Back on the Battlements: Restoring the Historic Handrail
For over 100 years, a handrail high upon the windswept battlements has held steadfast against a barrage of British weather. Torrents of rain, blistering heat and blankets of snow have all besieged this balustrade since the time of Lord Curzon's restoration.
A Time to Rest
Installed for visitor safety when the castle was opened to the public in 1914, it has protected thousands of castle climbers - now it's time for a little TLC. As this important fixture of the tower prepares for repair, we look back on the restoration of the battlements from decaying ruin to top visitor highlight.
A State of Decay
When Lord Curzon rescued the castle in 1911, the Scottish architect and head of the restoration efforts, William Weir, was astounded by what he found lurking at the top of the tower;
" The years of exposure had told on the top of the walls, which were overgrown with vegetation, and the upper courses of the brick-work were considerably perished and dislodged"
Even the flooring had collapsed without due care, making accessibility poor. Ascending the tower stairway would have been rather difficult in itself. With so much to restore, Weir set out his conservation goals in a series of written reports, along with pictures which showed the desperate situation the battlements were in.
A New Beginning
By July 1912, work began in earnest along the battlements starting from the east, with over 16,000 bricks being delivered in order to completely repair each and every turret. Imagine hauling them to the top of the tower!
By the 18 October 1912, the battlements and turrets were complete. In order to improve conditions when the castle was opened to the public, Weir decided that the roof gallery needed additional fixtures, such as protective balustrades. This was completed at the end of 1913 just before the castle officially opened to the public.
A Time to Celebrate
When the work was complete, Lord Curzon evidently saw the battlements as an important expression of the castle's grandeur, giving a speech about the restoration on the roof just below the battlements during the official opening ceremony.
Now, this very spot is open to every single visitor, and it has aged remarkably well. The continued dedication of our conservation team ensures that as we repair our handrail, the battlements will continue to be open for generations to come.
We take inspiration from our friends Lord Curzon and William Weir, whose dedication and vision helped pave the way for conservation laws still used today. We follow in their footsteps, ascending the spiral staircase, up towards a feeling of reaching the sky itself.