‘Wallunteers’ embark on restoration work at Bannockburn House

A team of volunteers have been praised for helping to restore the ancient wall that surrounds the historic Bannockburn House.

Led by two retired stonemasonry experts, the 20-strong team – dubbed the ‘Wallunteers’ – are consolidating and restoring walls within the enclosed garden at the 17th century mansion, which Bonnie Prince Charlie made his HQ.

To date, the group has repointed more than 150 square metres of wall.

The Bannockburn House Trust completed a community buy-out in 2017 after raising funds to purchase the house and grounds for the local community.

The project is being showcased in the MyLand.Scot campaign, an online resource run by the Scottish Land Commission to highlight the benefits land can bring to communities.

Willie McEwan, one of the stonemasons leading the project, said, “By teaching these very dedicated volunteers traditional crafts, we are not only educating them on a prized set of skills but we are returning Bannockburn back to its former glory whilst using the land as a vehicle to teach others. The programme has been a massive success. To be able to teach the volunteers completely traditional methods of stonemasonry is very exciting for us to be a part of.

“It’s a pleasure to see such progress on the walls themselves, improving the land around Bannockburn House, but also in the skillset the volunteers are growing during the process. One volunteer is currently working on his garden wall at home thanks to the skills he’s developed here.”

Elsewhere, more than 200 volunteers are engaged in other projects within Bannockburn House, which has allowed them to connect to the history of the house and land learning about ancient architecture, horticultural and Jacobean engineering including how to restore 18th century sash and case windows using 100-year-old timber from the site.

Once home to the first Baronet of Bannockburn, the house is associated with Bonnie Prince Charlie and his stay there in 1746 at the time of the Siege of Stirling.

Jim Bennett, CEO at the Bannockburn House Trust, added, “The ‘Wallunteers’ are such a massive part of the overall project undergoing here at Bannockburn House. Thanks to everyone involved, especially Historic Environment Scotland which has provided funding, we are seeing what is an incredibly beautiful, ancient wall being brought back to its former glory.

“Our aim is to use the historical estate we have here at Bannockburn House as a vehicle to regenerate Bannockburn and people local to it, rather than using it solely as a heritage attraction.”

Hamish Trench, chief executive of the Scottish Land Commission, said the MyLand.scot campaign aims to highlight the potential that land can have around Scotland. He said, “The way in which land is used can impact everything from house prices to climate change. The Bannockburn House Trust and its great army of volunteers have taken a piece of Scotland’s history and turned it into a present-day benefit while respecting the building and grounds itself. They’ve well and truly built a community project from the land around them that is adding so many different strands of value to the area.

“It’s a stellar example and highlights the opportunities that Scotland’s land can bring.”