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Historic Scotland makes call for more traditional tradespeople

Historic Scotland has warned of a looming shortage of stonemasons, plumbers and other tradesmen trained in traditional skills, who are able to carry out the delicate work needed on many of the country’s oldest buildings.

The director of conservation at Historic Scotland, David Mitchell, has said that they need to see more people learning traditional construction skills, either as dedicated historic restorers or existing modern tradesmen and women branching out from their conventional work.

“We have areas where we have lost those skills, particularly in some of our vernacular traditions,” he told the BBC. “Some of our thatching traditions have been lost unfortunately. But there are still some hanging on there very tenuously and it is really important that we preserve them or at least document them.”

Apprentice stonemason, Tony Walker, is one of the young people who are currently taking up the opportunities that are available in historic construction and restoration – and he said the job could hardly be more rewarding. He is currently working at the very heart of Scottish heritage and culture, in Edinburgh Castle.

“The first time I came here I was just looking over Edinburgh and said ‘Wow, I actually work here!’” he said.“The fact that we’re working on such old buildings and we’re doing the same type of work that they used to do back then, I think that’s really good.”

Historic Scotland is hiring14 apprentices this year to try to alleviate potential staffing problems in the future.