What’s the problem?
Whilst visiting the castle today, you may have noticed areas where seagulls nest.
The gulls collect grass, seeds and twigs to build their nests at the highest part of the castle.
This creates the perfect environment for new vegetation to grow into the joints in the stonework and, over a period of time, push out the mortar and loosen the stones.
Once the joints have opened up, the rain gets in, causing more damage.
So what did we do?
We employed a specialist conservation architect who recommended work to fix the problems — there’s usually more than one problem!
We chose to work on the walls that face the town first; not only to keep the works to one distinct area but also on those seen the most.
We have built a specially designed scaffolding platform — 200 tonnes of it — so we can access the sides as well as the tops of the walls and around the towers themselves.
How did we fix it?
As well as working off the scaffolding platform, we have a specialist team of stonemasons working off ropes so that the conservation work can be carried out to a number of sections of the castle at the same time.
The stonemasons are raking out the vegetation and brushing off the moss. At the same time, loose mortar is chased out using hand tools and any hard cement based mortar is carefully picked out by hand. Once the stonework is clean, the joints are washed out and re-pointed with traditional breathable lime mortar.
Not only should this prevent vegetation taking root again for some time but the castle should look a lot better.
Whilst we have the scaffolding in place, we also check on the finely detailed stone surrounding to the windows and point-up any joints.
We also try and encourage the seagulls to nest elsewhere (they do have a tendency to come back) so the conservation works are carried out around them.