Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Call to fix Edinburgh's historic signless buildings

Old Fishmarket Close
Image caption Prof Charles McKean believes Edinburgh closes and buildings need to have information plaques

Historic buildings in Edinburgh are as good as "derelict lumps of masonry" without signs to explain what they are, according to a leading historian.

Charles McKean, Edinburgh World Heritage chairman, said the capital was being let down by a lack of historic interpretation and unwelcoming closes.

Professor McKean said those who knew about the city's buildings were being "selfish" keeping it to themselves.

He is now calling for information plaques and signs on buildings.

Professor McKean, who has also announced he is leaving the voluntary post in August, said it was "tragic" locals and tourists were not being able to satisfy their "hunger" for knowledge about the city's buildings.

He told the BBC Scotland news website: "I think there is a huge curiosity in Edinburgh's architecture which is not being satisfied and it is not just the tourists who don't know about the buildings but the natives as well.

"It is tragic and rather like a man with amnesia.

Image caption Prof McKean said: 'How can you value a building if you don't know what it is?'

"How can you value a building if you don't know what it is or anything about it?

"I think there is a hunger from locals to know about their buildings, as well as tourists who you see wandering about looking but not knowing what the buildings are."

He added: "We need to get rid of some of the traffic signs on the pavements and instead have little cast iron signs in two languages, like they do in Paris, telling people about nearby closes and buildings.

"There is an issue that if you do it badly it can be an impediment but it can be done with grace and style without ruining the streetscape.

"There needs to be signs in closes, not paper the place, but put them where relevant."

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