Edinburgh World Heritage - News Article


Jawbone Arch removed for restoration

The Jawbone Arch on the Meadows was removed for conservation at the end of July.

Aug 27, 2014

In a delicate operation, the four bones were carefully removed from their concrete bases over the course of seven days. The first stage was to apply a bleach-free tissue membrane, overlaid with a latex membrane, to the whole structure to protect it ready for lifting. A set of tailor made stainless steel braces, fitted to the contours of each jawbone, were also used to support each of bones as they were lifted. They are now held in secure storage, where they will begin to dry out over the next few months.

The Jawbone Arch has stood in the Meadows for over 100 years, and was originally brought to the city by the knitters of Shetland and Fair Isle. They were invited as part of the International Exhibition of 1886, and used four whale jawbones to form a decorative arch over their display.

Six craftswomen – three from Shetland, three from Fair Isle – operated in relays on their stand, demonstrating dyeing, spinning and knitting with the backing of the then-Sheriff and Vice-Admiral of the County of Zetland. At the end of the exhibition the bones were gifted to the city,

Overall the bones were found to be in good condition, although the lower ends fixed into the concrete supports had begun to deteriorate.

The sponge-like cellular structure of the bones is inherently waterproof, but the concrete bases did not allow moisture to evaporate, causing damage over time to its structure. After six months conservators will inspect the bones in detail, before conserving and stabilising the bones so they can be returned to the Meadows.

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.

Local community groups are also supporting the project, but there is still a fundraising total of £20,000 needed to complete the project.

Help secure the future of the Jawbone Arch
For those who may wish to make cash donations to the fundraising appeal for conservation work to the Arch, this can be gifted:

Online: Just Giving - You can give by credit or debit card and if you are a taxpayer your tax can be reclaimed.

By cheque: Please post or hand in to Edinburgh World Heritage, 5 Bakehouse Close, 146 Canongate, Edinburgh, EH8 8DD. Please mark the envelope 'Jawbone'.

Follow the campaign on Facebook: Save the Jawbone Arch

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