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Easter Care for Warrior Archangel

10 April 2009


A careful conservation cleaning operation has been carried out on the ornate figure of St Michael which hangs in the shrine of the Scottish National War Memorial.

The beautiful timber carving – which symbolises hope for mankind’s eventual triumph over the evil of war – is suspended from the vaulted ceiling 9.3m (approx. 30 feet) above the casket which holds the Roll of Honour of the Scottish war Dead.

Historic Scotland, which maintains the war memorial which is located at Edinburgh Castle, has completed the week-long job ahead of the Easter weekend and the start of the main tourist season.

The work is being carried out on behalf of the monument’s board of trustees.

Members of the castle’s Monument Conservation Unit (MCU) used hand-held vacuum cleaners, soft brushes and cloths to remove several years’ build-up of dust and cobwebs from the archangel.

David Storrar, Historic Scotland regional architect, said: “The figure of St Michael is one of the most magnificent features of the war memorial.

“When visitors first go inside and see him soaring above the shrine casket, you can see it sometimes just about takes their breath away.

“From a care and maintenance point of view the figure is quite a challenge – as we need to put up special scaffolding to reach him.

“But it’s quite a privilege to be able to get a close-up view of such a wonderful piece of craftsmanship.”

The carving, in which the armoured archangel is seen brandishing a sword, is made of Scottish Oak and was created by the Clow brothers from a design by Alice Meredith Williams.

The figure itself is 3.3 metres (approx. 11 feet) tall and the entire carving, which also features a large medallion engraved with a cross, is 5.4 metres (approx. 17 feet) tall.

The Scottish War National Memorial is cared for on behalf of the nation by a charity that is administered by a board of trustees.

Colonel Ian Shepherd, secretary of the trustees, said: “The figure of the Archangel Michael is a tremendously important feature of the memorial.

“He personifies the soldier fighting in a just cause, but he does not stand for temporal victories – he is an expression of hope that mankind will one day triumph over war itself.”

For pictures

A selection of pictures of MCU staff member Jimmy Graham high on the scaffolding inside the shrine, cleaning the oak carving of St Michael, are available by contacting Rob McDougall on or 07856 222 103.

Notes for Editors

  • St Michael was the leader of the Heavenly Host in the overthrow of the rebel angels when Satan was cast out of Heaven. The carving is the only free-standing sculpture in the memorial.

  • The Scottish National War Memorial commemorates nearly 150,000 Scottish casualties in the First World War, 1914-18, more than 50,000 in the Second World War, 1939-45 and the campaigns since 1945, including the Malayan Emergency, the Korean War, Northern Ireland, the Falklands War and the Gulf War and the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • The Memorial is in Crown Square at the very top of the rock on which Edinburgh Castle stands.

  • It originated in 1927 when the architect Sir Robert Lorimer and 200 Scottish artists and craftsmen created a serene Hall of Honour and Shrine where the names of the dead are contained in books that are on permanent display.

  • Entry to the memorial is free for Edinburgh Castle ticket holders. The castle is in Edinburgh at the top of the Royal Mile. Telephone 0131 225 9846.

Historic Scotland is delighted to be supporting the 2009 Year of Homecoming with a series of initiatives including family trails, spectacular events and the creation of a Homecoming Pass for heritage attractions in association with other heritage organisations.

For further information

Rebecca Hamilton
Marketing and Media Manager
Marketing and Media
0131 668 8685 / 07788 923871