Edinburgh's famous Jawbone Arch could find new home at National Museum of Scotland

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
A much-loved piece of Edinburgh’s history could be given a new home in the National Museum of Scotland.

Let us know what you think and join the conversation at the bottom of this article.

The Jawbone Arch, which stood at an entrance to the Meadows for more than 120 years, has been declared too fragile to return to its traditional spot.

But the search is on for an indoor location where it could be put on display.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
The original arch is too fragile to return to the Meadows and will be replaced by a bronze replica.The original arch is too fragile to return to the Meadows and will be replaced by a bronze replica.
The original arch is too fragile to return to the Meadows and will be replaced by a bronze replica.

The famous landmark, which was dismantled for essential conservation work in 2014, will be replaced in the Meadows by a bronze replica.

But the plan is for the original arch – made up of four jawbones from a whale – to be preserved and kept in the city.

The city council’s culture committee approved the proposal for the replica and agreed explore options for a new home for the original.

Tory councillor Mark Brown suggested: “The National Museum of Scotland would probably be a suitable place for it to be, somewhere where people can learn more about its history. But it’s also such a magnificent structure, that would give it a place that was safe, in a controlled environment, and where it could be enjoyed by so many.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The council’s fine art curator David Patterson said the intention was to retain the original jawbones and try to find some suitable accommodation inside to re-erect them.

"That would preserve them in an environment that would be stable throughout the year.”

On the National Museum suggestion, Mr Patterson said: “That would certainly be one of the options we would like to explore. Certainly the National Museum has the space to display it and clearly with the throughput of visitors it would be seen by a lot of people.”

Committee convener Donald Wilson said: “It needs to be displayed in a place where it will be seen because it is such an iconic structure.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

And Tory councillor Max Mitchell said: “The replica will be exciting but it will be nice to have the real one as well.”

The original arch formed the Orkney and Fair Isle Knitters' stall at the International Exhibition on the Meadows in 1886. It was gifted to the city by the people of Shetland the following year.

The arch was taken down from its place at the entrance to Jawbone Walk in July 2014 after being declared a risk to pedestrians due to its deterioration.

But Mr Patterson told the committee: “The restoration of the Meadows jawbone has been a very turbulent journey thus far.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Those working on the conservation found there had been previous attempts to repair the bones using car body filler and cement.

A report to the committee said the conservator carrying out the project had gone into administration and the conservation work was subsequently changed without the council’s consent.

The bones had been stored in several locations for about three years while the restoration project was reassessed due to financial and legal considerations and a change in personnel.

And when they were eventually returned to Edinburgh, it was decided they would need a full frame to support them in position.

Read More
Famous Edinburgh landmark Jawbone Arch 'too fragile' to return to its place in M...

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.