Scaffolding by the sea
When we look at repairing Lindisfarne, there are some external areas of the building that are easy to access; whether it is the Upper Battery and its rows of windows or the lower level and the rooms that look onto the old gun battery there. Then there is the rest.
For small, short term jobs the only viable option is to use steeplejacks, who bravely abseil over the battlements and descend; checking the rocky crag and the building which sits solidly upon it, and occasionally doing a spot of weeding or repointing a stone or two. When it comes to a major project like that which we are currently undertaking then only scaffolding will do, and given the scale of the present work, it needed to be a substantial structure to say the least.
The highest point of the castle is about 140 feet above the sea crashing onto the rocks at the foot of the crag, but it isn’t necessarily the height of the building that is the biggest challenged which faced the contractors tasked with designing and constructing this colossal structure. Beblowe Crag is a volcanic extrusion, part of the Holy Island dyke (itself part of the Great Whin Sill) which sprang from the ground many millions of years ago and collapsed northwards. This gives us a crag with a steep southern slope and a more gradual northern slope, which means to even get a few working platforms against the walls, the full scaffold needs to stretch a long way back from the building in order to find firm, level grounding.
What results then is a scaffold which brings together the skills of the designer and scaffolders themselves – often working in terrible weather (although a remotely accessible weather station helped focus work to the calmer days) and against all the difficulties the site presents – with what we needed access to, and so what work could then be done. The fact we and our skilled contractors now have unprecedented access to almost every square inch of the building is a testament to how well the scaffold works.