Conservation plan delayed at Carloway Broch

Visitors are making a return to the Islands and local businesses are set to offer a warm welcome even within the constraints of social distancing rules.

Friday, 31st July 2020, 4:05 pm

Making the best of the new-normal is the mantra and with tourism on the rise again the Islands’ landmarks will soon be hosting groups of people eager to enjoy the history and culture of the region.

However, one such landmark - the Carloway Broch - is still languishing under scaffolding because of much-needed repairs, identified almost a year ago.

Concerns about the management of repairs to the Broch was first raised in early August 2019 by Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron, who highlighted local worries about the impact of the site’s closure on tourism to the area.

At that time Historic Environment Scotland (HES) said they would be: “Conducting a detailed inspection of the site in the next few weeks to determine the extent of the associated issues and fully assess the works required.

“Following this inspection we will be able to determine the appropriate course of action for the conservation of the site.”

HES were not able to confirm a firm date for that inspection, but reassured that it would happen soon.

But, almost 12 months on from that statement the historic site is still covered in scaffolding.

The Gazette asked HES for an update on repairs to the Carloway Broch this week and not much has changed for the landmark from last August.

It is not clear if the “detailed inspection” planned last year was carried out and it seems that Covid-19 has also played its part in the delay to repairs.

A spokesperson for HES, told the Gazette this week: “The interior of Dun Carloway Broch remains closed due to conservation works.

“However visitors can still access the grounds to explore the exterior of the ancient structure.

“Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we are reviewing the planned programme of conservation works across our estate. Therefore, we are unable to confirm timescales for the completion of these works at this time.”

Talking about the matter this week, Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron, said: “It is disappointing that little progress has been made to restore the broch since I first raised local concerns with Historic Environment Scotland and the Culture Secretary last August.

“Covid-19 may have played a role in delaying action on this issue, but Historic Environment Scotland have had months to prepare the site and carry out restorative works.

“Once it is safe to do so, Historic Environment Scotland must make the repair of the broch a top priority.”