Tayside and Central Scotland

Work to repair destroyed Scone Palace archway begins

Work has begun to restore an ancient archway at one of Scotland's most historic palaces.

The stone arch at Scone Palace in Perthshire was destroyed when it was struck by a van in September 2010.

Experts have said repairing the intricate monument will be like completing the ''world's largest jigsaw''.

The full restoration project is expected to last about 12 months and will be "weather dependent".

Scone Palace was the ancient crowning place of Scotland's kings.

Historical importance

The stone archway, which marked the approach to an Augustinian abbey which once stood in the grounds, was reduced to a pile of rubble when the van being driven by contractors crashed into it.

The central armorial panels, of major historical importance, were damaged beyond repair, with one thrown more than 15m on to the palace lawns.

The family which owns Scone Palace was devastated by the destruction of the arch and pledged to rebuild it.

The Honourable William Murray, a member of the family who owns the palace, said: "It was this very, very important archway - very significant to the family and also to Scottish history, primarily because of the timing of it.

"There were two crests that came tumbling down in the terrible incident last year and it's all to do with James I and the union of the kingdoms of England and Scotland, and of the imagery on these crests."

Within a day or two of the accident experts were already assessing the damage and making restoration plans.

After initial remedial work, a contract went out to tender to specialist masonry and building companies.

John Addison, one of Scotland's most prominent structural engineers, has been appointed to lead the project.

Palace administrator Elspeth Bruce said: "It is imperative to us that the archway matches the original and the techniques used to rebuild it are the same as those used back in the 16th Century - though clearly we will not be using horse-drawn carts to ferry the materials."

The destruction of the archway did reveal a stone crest dating from the 11th Century and oyster shells used in the original construction.

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