News

Landmark Mausoleum Restored in Scottish Borders

01/07/2019

The Friends successfully achieved their funding target last year by winning a total of £128,000 in funding from Fallago Environment Fund, FCC Communities Foundation Ltd. and BCCF Environmental. The restoration of the mausoleum adds to a number of significant hilltop monuments in the Borders, including Peniel Heugh, Fatlips Castle and Smailholm Tower.

The restoration of this remarkable 1864 building has involved a variety of specialist tasks. Sandy McLean & Co. of Duns undertook the major building restoration works, with six stories of scaffolding required to reach the top of the dome. Craftsmen stonemasons repointed the beautiful curved stone dome, filling cracks often no larger than the thickness of a sheet of paper! The forty eight glazed stars of different sizes were surveyed, precision-cut and replaced, and a new lightning conductor was installed to protect the building from future lightening strikes.

At ground level part of the curved flank wall was rebuilt because of damage by intrusive ivy roots. New doors were crafted from green oak, and the existing iron bosses sandblasted and reused. The boundary wall surrounding the building was repaired, with seventeen new iron railings replacing missing or damaged originals. Finally, a new level pathway was made from the car park to facilitate disabled access to the enclosure.

The contractors completed their task in February this year. Volunteers from the Friends then undertook the onerous task of repainting the six hundred and seventy two railings which surrounded the monument. Each one had to be wire-brushed and double-painted, taking around twenty minutes per railing. In all, over two hundred volunteer hours! Meanwhile, interpretation boards were researched, designed and installed by the Friends, and the old quarry adjacent to the mausoleum was fenced off to improve safety for visitors.

The Marquess of Lothian will cut the ribbon to officially open the restored monument on Sunday 7th July, and it will be available for public access from Monday 8th. Walkers, cyclists and horse riders will have access throughout the year. Vehicle access will be enabled during the six Open Weekends each year, with a guide available to assist less-abled visitors and families enjoy the surroundings. While the views from the mausoleum are a reward in itself, visitors wishing to see the angel sculptures and star chamber inside the crypt can obtain a key from the Lothian Estates office in Bonjedward for a small fee.