Project Update: The Calder Stones begin their conservation journey

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It’s been a big month for the refurbishment project as the Calder Stones set off on their conservation journey, Calderstones Development and Heritage Manager George Hawkins shares an update:

This month saw a long-awaited milestone in The Reader’s project at Calderstones: the moment the Calder Stones themselves, the beloved Stone Age monuments which give the park its name, left on their travels down to London for conservation work which will see them return in Spring 2019.

Our conservators Orbis Conservation spent the week carefully de-installing the stones from their previous home in the glasshouse known as Harthill Vestibule. Digging them out one at a time, painstakingly supporting their weight on a large lifting gantry, and very slowly, inch by inch, lifting them out, being careful not to damage the precious rock art on their surfaces, the team from Orbis were often working under the curious eyes of members of the public.

In fact, the work created a great deal of interest from passers-by and park users, hardly surprising given the fact that the glasshouse has been mostly closed since the 1980s, and it has been unusual to see any kind of activity taking place. Members of the public were generally delighted to hear the Stones are to be conserved and were often particularly pleased that they would certainly be returning to Calderstones in short order.

Highlights included the confirmation of a long-standing theory that one of the stones had been deliberately mounted upside down in the 1960s when it was emplaced in the glasshouse, and the delightful labrador who launched a raid on the work-site in order to steal the remaining slice of cake that was keeping the Orbis Team going!

The process of conservation is going to be as delicate as the lift, but we are confident we will be able to at the very least stop the progress of the deterioration the stones have had in the glasshouse. Each of the six stones will also be cleaned of surface discolouration as much as possible, to reveal as much of the enigmatic Calder Stones rock art as can be.

At 5,000 years old the Calder Stones were this year’s oldest heritage site participating in Heritage Open Days. Throughout the week we had visits from groups from Pleasant Street Primary School, Merseyside Archaeological Society, National Museums Liverpool and the Young Heritage Champions. We also welcomed BBC’s Jenny Lee Summers who reported from Calderstones Park for Radio Merseyside.

Over 70 members of the public also visited the park to join our Heritage Open Days walking tours, starting with the Calder Stones and taking in sites in the park including the Jet Memorial, gardens, Mansion House and Allerton Oak. It was lovely to see so many visitors coming to learn about the heritage of Calderstones, from both the local area and further afield.

Particular thanks are in order to our wonderful volunteers, Anthony, Andrea, Catherine, David, Karen – leading tours, giving out fliers, interacting with the public, feeding the Orbis Team cake and generally being fantastic. We got great feedback from the public and it was lovely to have such a supportive team.

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