THE CASTLE to which William Wallace was taken after his capture in 1305 will finally reopen after being identified as one of a series of crumbling historic buildings that were dangerous to staff and the public.
Heritage agency Historic Environment Scotland said the restrictions were introduced early last year as a precaution while it introduced new measures to deal with the impact climate change on his heritage assets, a problem that affects heritage owners worldwide.
Dumbarton Castle will now reopen before the start of spring following the completion of high-level inspections of the masonry, said HES, which manages the landmark attractions, which attract millions of tourists each year.
In December, ZHE was accused of hacking the right failing to take immediate action to close some of its dilapidated historic buildings that have been deemed unsafe for staff and the public internally.
HES has received internal professional advice that a number of facilities need to be closed immediately so that a practical review can be carried out.
It is understood that a number of buildings have been of particular concern since the inspections.
The Prospect union expressed its dismay as a whistleblower account revealed concerns that HES was committing a criminal offense by failing to take immediate action to close a number of sites.
There were concerns that some actions would take weeks to complete.
Other staff expressed concern about the depth of any repairs due to lack of funding.
HES denied the allegations, insisting it had “always put the safety of our staff, visitors and contractors first and ensured they were not put at risk”.
In April last year, HES began a nationwide program of inspections of around 70 of their historic sites, surveying the elevated sites of the monuments and checking the stonework by hand.
According to the HES website, around 64 of the 336 sites managed by HES, which attract millions of visitors, remained “closed or partially closed” after inspections revealed a risk of “unstable masonry at a high level” associated with deterioration. caused by factors including climate change. HES said in November that it is now actually 44.
Since May, HES has been carrying out “touch” inspections at 25 sites across the country, with a further 13 due to be completed by spring 2023.
HES said work on the sites could take more than a month due to the scale of the task and the varying characteristics of the buildings, many of which date back hundreds of years and were built using the conventions and materials of the time.
A tactile inspection of Dumbarton Castle, which took 20 working days, was completed at the end of last year.
Some necessary repairs and inspections will now be carried out before the site reopens in March.
Once it reopens, visitors will be able to explore much of the 800-year-old monument, including the Governor’s House, the Guard House and the Portcullis Arch, the remains of the White Tower, which sits atop the site’s highest point. , French Gaol, Wallace Tower, Store and Crane Bastion.
One minor access restriction will remain in effect at Speer Battery, which will exclude access to Spain and Bauer batteries.
Ground level restrictions also remain in areas around the base of the Rock, however, HES says this is managed as part of normal rock risk and is not part of the High Level Masonry Programme.
Dumbarton Castle will be the latest site to reopen as part of the priority inspection programme, after sites such as Doon Castle, Burleigh Castle, Dunonold Castle and St Andrews Castle have reopened following investigations.
HES said access to more than 30 sites has now increased since inspections began in May last year.
Craig Mearns, HES Chief Operating Officer, said: “I am delighted to announce that we will soon be re-opening Dumbarton Castle to visitors. We are working as quickly as possible to reopen our historic sites, and we appreciate the public’s patience while we carry out the necessary inspections and subsequent repairs.
“Dumbarton Castle is one of Scotland’s most important landmarks, and climate change is another part of its long and varied history. We look forward to welcoming visitors back to the iconic location once we have completed final checks and put in place additional security measures. For more details on when tickets go on sale, please visit our website and social media channels, where more information will be posted soon.”