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  • Writer's pictureRobert Sproul-Cran

Reading the stones

So now we have uncovered part of the facade of the Old Scottish Parliament building. But what can we read into the stones?



The pattern is partly obscured by layers of whitewash, perhaps where there might have been cupboards in the 1800s. But there are some traces of patterns which seem older. And the one thing which we can rely on is the disruption to the regular courses of masonry. I have outlined in yellow all of the uninterrupted courses of mortar. Then I have picked out changes in pattern in different colours. The main clue in the red outline on the left is the diagonal line at the top. This is almost certainly one of the upper windows seen in contemporary illustrations.



At the bottom, in orange, is what must be the top left corner of the main door. That allows us to examine the pattern I'v picked out in red on the right. Here's a closer view.



On the right is a pattern which could be the marks left where the original crest was attached to the wall. That leaves the break in the regular pattern outlined in orange in my first photo. This would appear to be where the inverted conch shells were attached to shelter the statues standing below. Here is a shot of the conch shell sitting between the statues of Justice and Mercy kept to this day within Parliament Hall. If the conch shell is one of the original three which has been rescued then the block it is attached to would fit within the large orange slot above.



The crest above is not the one which was displayed above the doorway. The search for that one will take us on a remarkable journey, which will uncover more of the lost masonry of the Old Scottish Parliament. But in the meantime, here's a 3D reconstruction based on all of this evidence uncovered so far. It's still not the finished rendition, but it's a more accurate view of this grand old building than anyone has seen for almost two hundred years.



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