Climbers’ concerns over graffiti removal at Dumbarton Rock
No one likes ad hoc graffiti and it seems the paint spray mess at climbing Mecca Dumbarton Rock has become a little unsightly. So much so that Historic Scotland are planning to do a clean up. But this has raised alarm bells among climbers, who are worried that the clean up will damage vital holds on the rock, made famous by top Scottish climber Dave MacLeod.
Now the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS) has contacted Historic Scotland in a bid to resolve the issue.
Dumbarton Rock, known as Dumby to the climbing fraternity, offers some of Scotland’s finest bouldering and has a long history of climbers, who have achieved some of the hardest and most challenging boulder problems in the UK, if not the world.
The main crag above the boulders has some of Scotland’s hardest traditional climbs including the first ever E8 in the UK, which was probably the hardest climb in the world at the time, and the first ever E11 in the world. This was the one that Dave MacLeod completed.
David Gibson, MCofS Chief Officer, said: “We contacted Historic Scotland after we received a number of emails from climbers expressing concerns that there are plans to clean the boulders of graffiti, with possible implications for boulder problems which clearly could be affected by abrasive treatment.”
The spokesperson for Historic Scotland stated: “Following considerable local concern regarding the amount of graffiti and litter that has accumulated in recent years, Historic Scotland are in the early stages of scoping out cleaning methods to remove the graffiti from the lower reaches of the rock cliff and boulders on the north west face of Dumbarton Rock.
“In carrying out this work we have taken the advice of our stone conservation specialists and scientists. They have had considerable experience in removing graffiti from softer porous sandstone, often delicately carved historic stone, using gentle non-chemical methods, with no resultant damage to the stone.
“The dense igneous stone of Dumbarton Rock means that there should be little penetration of the stone matrix by the paint, which should help successful paint removal.”
The area of Dumbarton Rock is Crown Property and a Scheduled Ancient Monument under the care of Historic Scotland. The Rock is also designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest by Scottish Natural Heritage.
However, the MCofS is still not satisfied. Gibson added: “We recognise that Historic Scotland has the highest levels of expertise in the restoration of monuments, however the nature of some of the holds on the boulders may mean that even minimal abrasion could result in damage that would be irreversible.
“We believe the best solution would be for a MCofS representative and a climber who knows the bouldering problems in the area to be present at a test and to confirm that no damage to the holds would be possible as a result of the planned treatment.
“The MCofS looks forward to further discussion with Historic Scotland prior to any work being undertaken on site.”