Work to be carried out on damaged Edinburgh Castle flagpole

Edinburgh Castle's flagpole is out of action. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor
Edinburgh Castle's flagpole is out of action. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor
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The union flag will not be flown at Edinburgh Castle during this year’s royal military tattoo after heritage bosses revealed extensive repair works to the main flagpole would continue into September.

The 27-metre (90ft) pole, which is visible from across the city, is currently surrounded by scaffolding as workers attempt to fix problems with the flag-raising mechanism.

Scaffolding is put up around the broken flagpole. Picture: Andrew O'Brien

Scaffolding is put up around the broken flagpole. Picture: Andrew O'Brien

The flagpole, maintained by the MoD, usually flies the union flag during the spectacular performance in August.

However under current plans, the mechanism issues are not expected to be properly addressed until mid-September, meaning it will be bare during the showcase of British, Commonwealth and international military bands that hits the Castle every 
year.

Other visitor attractions are not expected to be affected by the work.

In a statement, the MoD said: “Work is being carried out to replace the Crown Square clock tower flagpole, which as a flag-flying station the MoD are responsible for, in the upper ward area of Edinburgh Castle.

“This is due to a failure in the flagpole mechanism.

“Temporary high-level scaffolding will be in place for this project, which is expected to finish in September.

“All areas and exhibits within the Crown Square area of the Castle will remain open to visitors as normal throughout the duration of the works.”

Alternate flags are often used at the Castle depending on wind speed, with a larger version used for calmer days and a smaller one used for more blustery conditions.

A row over the use of the flagpole erupted in 2010 when campaigners called for a second pole to be erected in Crown Square to fly the Saltire at an equal or greater height.

They argued that giving the Saltire the most prominent spot would help tourism, however Historic Scotland rejected the plans on health and safety grounds.

Heritage chiefs eventually agreed to a second pole, however said they were unable to demote the union flag due to the Castle’s status as a designated flag-flying station for the British Army.

In 2012, the argument was reignited when Historic Scotland decided to move the Saltire to a new location alongside the One O’Clock Gun, making it easily visible from Princes Street.

Historic Scotland said the new flagpole would be an “enhancement to what we believe is one of the best city skylines in the world”.

“Though the Saltire does already fly at the Castle, it wasn’t visible from one of the major tourist routes.”

However, the decision raised the ire of campaigners who were furious about its new placing nearly 30 metres (100ft) below the union flag.