HISTORIC whale bones which span the entrance to a path through the heart of the Meadows are going into storage ahead of major conservation work.
The Jawbone Arch was branded a risk to pedestrians after a survey in December found the structure’s condition had deteriorated.
Council chiefs were forced to close Jawbone Walk following the discovery, which has left a £49,000 repair bill.
The four bones will be stored for up to six months to allow them to dry before experts assess their condition and work can begin. It is understood the council aims to have the Jawbone Arch returned to its original location.
But there are fears it might never be seen again, after other Capital landmarks previously moved to “temporary” locations – such as Topshop’s globe – failed to reappear.
Marion Williams, director of the Cockburn Association, the city’s civic trust, vowed to make sure the arch did return, and warned the council it would need a good reason if it did not.
She said: “I trust them to do the right thing, but if they don’t we will need to know why. You have to keep your eye on things like this.
“The immediate thing that comes to mind is that globe on Princes Street. We had to do an awful lot of nagging to be assured that it was in safe-keeping.”
The area surrounding the arch will be cleared of fencing for easy pedestrian and cycle access through the Meadows in time for the Festival.
More than half of the funding is being provided by the council and Edinburgh World Heritage, with the shortfall sitting at £20,000.
Financial support has also come from the Marchmont and Sciennes Community Council, the Grange Association, the Friends of the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links.
Adam Wilkinson, director of Edinburgh World Heritage, said: “The response to the fundraising appeal has been very encouraging, but we need even greater generosity to ensure the Jawbone Arch’s future.”
The whale jawbones originally formed the Orkney and Fair Isle Knitters’ stall at the Edinburgh Exhibition in 1886 before being gifted to the city.
Councillor Richard Lewis, culture convener, said: “The Jawbone Arch is an iconic structure within the Meadows landscape. but is in need of restoration. The removal of the monument is hopefully the first step in restoring it to its former glory.”