Edinburgh World Heritage - News Article


Jawbone Arch Progress

Conservation work on the historic Jawbone Arch is about to begin.

Dec 8, 2014

The Jawbone Arch was carefully removed from the Meadows in July, and taken to storage to allow the bones to dry out and stabilise.

The archway of whale jawbones has been a feature of the area since 1886, when it was brought to Edinburgh by Shetland and Fair Isle knitters, as part of their display for the International Exhibition.

The conservation specialist Nic Boyes, whose firm is undertaking the work commented: “The jawbones have been stored in a controlled environment for a period of four months during which time we have been monitoring any changes. We are now moving from this passive phase of conservation to further intervention. Our next challenge is to conduct works to remove soiling and biological material and consider the structural matters related to eventually re-erecting the Jawbone Arch.”

Before conservation works can take place, the jawbones will be inspected in detail. This will look for evidence of past damage and repairs, and carefully analyse the material, so that informed decisions can be made about its preservation. A key consideration will be the structural supports, to ensure the arch is stable but that the weight is not carried by the bones themselves. As well as supporting the structure, the fixings must complement the historic design and not cause any long-term damage.

The fundraising campaign for the Jawbone Arch has progressed well, with only a further £8,500 still needed. Many local community groups have donated, such as the Friends of Marchmont and Sciennes Community Council, the Grange Association, the Friends of the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links and Merchiston Community Council, along with many gifts from private individuals. The rest of the project, over half of the total cost, is being funded by the City of Edinburgh Council and Edinburgh World Heritage.

Donate to the Jawbone Arch project and learn more of its history
The author Paul Sutherland has kindly donated a signed copy of his book 'Mirth, Madness & St Magnus' to the fundraising appeal. It tells the story of the highly eccentric Sheriff George Thoms, who was instrumental in sending the Jawbone Arch to Edinburgh in 1886.

Thoms was an extraordinary character who left a fortune in his will to restore St. Magnus Cathedral, but was also known to serve champagne and laxative cocktails to guests, imagined himself a Highland Chief called 'Ye MacComish' and once fined his cat. To learn more of the life of this truly extraordinary man and donate to the Jawbone Arch project please contact Edinburgh World Heritage at info@ewht.org.uk.

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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