The £1.7 million project to restore Stirling’s Old Town Cemeteries was recently completed. Work on the project involved bringing the physical infrastructure of the cemetery back to the original Victorian style, with restoration of stonework, ironwork, and, hard and soft landscaping.
The restoration of the stonework formed a critical part of the overall project. Stone copes formed the basis for the iron railings at the perimeter of both the Valley Cemetery and the Drummond Pleasure Ground. Many copes had been shattered by corrosion of the iron bars and required replacement. As many as possible of the original stones have been retained and re-used. More specialist works were necessary to conserve the Sconce Monuments, six sandstone Reformers Statues and the marble figures of the Virgin Martyrs’ Monument. Missing limbs and heads on all these sculptures have been replaced, following the research of archives and close studies of the remaining sculptures.
19th century photographs of the Cemetery show that it was originally planted extensively with trees and shrubs. By the 20th century, much of the shrub planting had been lost by an increasing provision of lairs and also the fact the many tree species were reaching maturity. The removal of these trees as part of the renovation works and reintroduction of shrub planting in a style appropriate to the original design now enhances the restored monuments and overall provides a respectful setting to this unique Cemetery. Pathways and roads have been restored and resurfaced to reflect the gravel surfaces of the original layout.
The iron railings are another important part of the conservation and restoration project. Railings to the perimeter of the Valley Cemetery, made of a combination of cast iron and wrought iron, had been damaged over many years by corrosion and vandalism. Each individual railing was surveyed along with its corresponding stone cope and either repaired in situ or replaced in cast iron, matching the original detail exactly. Gates to the Cemetery were repaired and the missing side gate was replicated accurately, and replaced. The railings to the Drummond Pleasure Ground, fabricated at a later date, required less work.