Harper & Allan Masonry was one of the first trades to be appointed to the restoration at Boleskine House, starting in the summer of 2020. Harper & Allan have worked all over the Highlands on repairing and preserving important historic sites.
Stone masonry is an ancient craft, and we have employed many of the same heritage skills that masons have used for hundreds of years. One of the key philosophies behind the conservation approach is to preserve at all costs stone where it is possible. If it can be repaired, it is better than it being replaced. While we have been able to save much of the historic fabric of Boleskine, a large percentage was far too damaged in the fires of 2015 and 2019 to be saved. The decorative sandstone that you see around the windows, and the impressive pillars in the courtyard elevation are among the elements that were needed to completely replace. This meant that we had to source the closest match and hand chisel by hand nearly everything that would need replacing. Do you see all of the small congregations along the windows? These were individually chiseled by hand by one of our masons in order to make this look like the original stone. Hundreds of hours have gone into this, even where the naked eye cannot see it, such as the chimney coping stones you see atop the roof. This is one example of the careful attention and detail that Boleskine House demands.
When you are facing the house looking at the courtyard, you will see a magnificent example of this of the left hand wing bay window. Can you guess how many individual hand chisel marks went into this? Try 19,600!
Now being here for four years and nearly completed with the masonry element, we can attest that Boleskine House is deserving of its status as a heritage conservation project. We have even been able to train some of our apprentices on site so we can ensure that these skills don’t disappear.