Ancient Edinburgh Castle stone to be replaced

Students Kathryn Raybould and Katie Tillery admire the stone. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Students Kathryn Raybould and Katie Tillery admire the stone. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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A FORGOTTEN Nordic relic brought to the Capital in the 18th century is to be recreated in its original home.

The grey granite runestone – one of only three in the UK – sits in Princes Street Gardens in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle.

Swedish group Hebys New Runestone want to carve a replica of the 1000-year-old monument which will be found a home back in Sweden.

They have begun a drive to raise the 75,000 Swedish krona, around £7000, needed to do it.

Project leader Mats Köbin, 41, an amateur historian, said: “This stone is a part of our heritage. In Sweden, we have lots of runestones but this one has been missing. The plan is to put a replica of it back in its original site.

“The stone is almost forgotten and that’s a shame because it is a historical artefact – it’s older then the Castle itself.”

In addition to creating a carbon copy of the historic tablet, they want to see the little-known Edinburgh marker restored to its former glory.

Mr Köbin said: “We want the people of Scotland to recognise it – we want to see it painted again as it was originally and perhaps there could be information boards about it and where it came from.”

The stone, which features a serpent and a snake, was originally carved in 1040 and was shipped from Little Ramsingarde to Edinburgh in 1787 by Sir Alexander Seton, who had trade links with a Stockholm merchant. The engraving reads: “Ari engraved this stone in memory of Hialm his father. God help his soul.”

It was gifted to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, who placed it in the Canongate before it was moved to its present position in Princes Street Gardens in 1804.

The stone was one of the earliest acquisitions by the society, which had been founded just seven years previously.

Stonemason Kalle Dahlberg, 49, visited Edinburgh last summer to study the five-foot high object.

He said: “Here in Sweden, we have almost 2000 runestones. We thought this one was gone but, in 1950, somebody found it in the Gardens.

“We believe it will be there for the rest of time, but we also want it back home, so we’re going to make a copy.”

The tradition of making the stones began in the fourth century. They normally mark territory or tell of important events.

Runestones were usually brightly coloured when first erected but the paint fades over time.

Simon Gilmour, director of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, said: “We met with the group. They said they were interested in helping to promote the stone and were going to set up a fund to make a replica. It would be a really exciting venture.”

A spokeswoman for the city council, which owns the land on which the stone is found, said officials would be happy to liaise with the group.