City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Jawbone Arch Set for Removal and Restoration


By Barnaby Miln - Posted on 18 July 2014

The City of Edinburgh Council has appointed conservators to undertake the careful removal of the Jawbone Arch in the Meadows so that the bones can be stored ahead of repair work.

In an effort to secure the future of the Jawbone Arch, which has stood in the park through all weathers for over 100 years, the bones will be removed later this month. They will be taken into storage for up to six months to allow them to dry. After that, experts will assess their condition before preserving and repairing the bones.

The area surrounding the Jawbone Arch will be cleared of fencing for easy pedestrian and cycle access through the Meadows in time for the Festivals season.

The total estimated repair work for the bones is £49,000, with just over half of the funding target being provided by the City of Edinburgh Council and Edinburgh World Heritage.

Additional support from the Marchmont and Sciennes Community Council, the Grange Association, the Friends of the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links, and a range of individuals has also been pledged. The shortfall in fundraising now sits at £20,000 to complete the project.

Councillor Richard Lewis, Culture Convener, said: “The Jawbone Arch is an iconic structure within the Meadows landscape but is in need of restoration following years of being exposed to the Edinburgh elements.

"It is fantastic that so many organisations and locals have pledged support of the project, and the removal of the monument is hopefully the first step in restoring it to its former glory.”

Adam Wilkinson, Director of Edinburgh World Heritage, said: "Conservation work is essential if we want the Jawbone Arch to survive and be enjoyed by future generations. Several places around the world have whale-bone archways, but Edinburgh's was a gift from the knitters of Shetland and Fair Isle, and is a rare example with formed of two pairs together.

"The response to the fundraising appeal has been very encouraging, but we need even greater generosity from the people and companies of Edinburgh to ensure the Jawbone Arch’s future."

Heather Goodare, Convener of the Friends of the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links, said: "It is very encouraging that over half of the total cost of the repair and re-installation of the Jawbone Arch has already been raised by Edinburgh World Heritage and the City of Edinburgh Council.

“Friends of the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links are fully supporting it and hope that their members will continue to donate, as they have done in the past. It is also great that at last the bones are to be removed and will be in the care of an expert conservator who will undertake the dismantling, repair, conservation and re-installation of the Arch.

“This means that the footpath underneath the Arch will once again be accessible, in time for the Festival, after the months when it has been fenced off owing to safety considerations. This really will be a cause for celebration."

Whalebone arches can be found in many places around Scotland, particularly in areas associated with the whaling industry. Edinburgh’s Arch is one of last relics of the International Exhibition of Science and Art which took place in the Meadows in 1886. The jaw bones of a whale formed part of the stand of the Shetland and Fair Isle Knitters, and after the exhibition they were gifted to the city.