Scots stone to be used for Australian statue repairs

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Robert Burns
Image caption,
The statue is the oldest existing monument to Robert Burns

Stone from a Scottish quarry is to be sent to Australia to repair the oldest existing statue of Robert Burns.

The sculpture, carved by John Greenshields in 1826, was shipped to Australia in the 1850s.

It has been in poor condition for a number of years and experts have been trying identify the stone and locate the best type for repairs.

The closest match was found at the Drumhead Quarry in Denny, Stirlingshire.

Although the quarry is not currently operational, an application for planning permission to reopen it is about to be submitted.

Stone for the repairs will come from the initial excavations which have been carried out.

The British Geological Society found the quarry after a request from the Australian National Trust.

Writer Gordon Ashley discovered the significance of the statue, on display in the Botanical Gardens in Camperdown, Victoria, while carrying out research for a novel set in Scotland.

He said: "I came to the conclusion that this statue in Victoria was older than previously thought. I contacted the local council to let them know what I had found."

But after the discovery was announced, the statue, which had already been partially damaged, was further vandalised.

'Thrilling opportunity'

Mr Ashley visited the quarry last week with Kirsty James from the National Trust of Australia.

She said: "At the moment we are trying to raise public awareness of the statue in Victoria, and collect funds for the repair, which we think will cost around £60,000.

"There has been restoration work carried out previously on the statue but it has been done using inappropriate stone and techniques.

"It's quite thrilling to have the opportunity to restore it using the correct stone, and we are delighted to be working with the Denny community to do this."

Dr Ewan Hyslop from the British Geographical Society said: "In comparison to other sandstones currently quarried throughout the UK, the Drumhead sandstone ranks as one of the higher quality stone types.

"It is a good match for historic buildings in Falkirk, Stirling, Linlithgow, Glasgow and Kilmarnock, where no other quarries can supply stone that is a closer match.

"We consider that the Drumhead sandstone has unique characteristics which make it important for the repair and maintenance of Scotland's built heritage."

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