Edinburgh's oldest statue removed for conservation work

Image caption,
The monument is the UK's oldest equestrian statue to be made of lead

Edinburgh's oldest statue has been removed from its plinth in Parliament Square for conservation work.

Cracks have appeared on the 325-year-old Charles II, thought to be the work of the Dutch sculptor Grinling Gibbons.

The monument, which is made of lead, depicts the King of England, Scotland and Ireland as a Roman general.

The lead will be cleaned and missing parts like the sword and scabbard will be replaced, modelled on a similar statue at Windsor Castle.

The work is needed because the statue's internal framework, which is made from oak and mild steel, has deteriorated over time, causing cracks.

After being taken down, the sculpture was due to be transported to Hall Conservation's studio in Rochester, where it will be taken apart and rebuilt, supported by a new internal stainless steel frame.

The piece was completed the year of Charles II's death in 1685. His restoration to the throne in 1660 marked the end of republican rule in England.

Adam Wilkinson, director of Edinburgh World Heritage, said: "The statue of Charles II is utterly beguiling, far from the pomposity of his father's statue in Trafalgar Square in London.

"This is the monarch of a different kind of a nation, following the trauma and upheaval of the Commonwealth, seeking calm authority.

"Statuary is one of the aspects of the World Heritage Site that is easily forgotten, yet which plays an important part in creating the drama of some of our public spaces, in this case Parliament Square behind St Giles."

The conservation work is the latest instalment of the Twelve Monuments Restoration Project, a joint initiative by Edinburgh World Heritage and the city council.

The conservation work is expected to take six months, at a cost of nearly £60,000.

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