Edinburgh Castle will have to bolster its walls and reconsider the way it welcomes visitors in a new fight against global warming and erosion, world experts will hear at a conference next month.

Professor Robert Oram, of Stirling University, said “capping” walls under siege from increasing rainfall, storms, damp and flash frost as well as managing footfall will face the custodians of Scotland’s monuments while difficult decisions such as allowing Skara Brae to be reclaimed by the sea will also have to be broached.

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Edinburgh Castle - the jewel in the crown of Scotland's heritage which for the first time in its history last year had 1.7m visitors - is taking hits from storms as well as the legions of tourists who flock to the landmark.

HeraldScotland: Edinburgh Castle will not get new signageAlso under threat is Skara Brae, in one of Scotland's other World Heritage Sites in Orkney, and in hundreds off sites down the whole Atlantic seaboard "archaeology is literally falling into the sea", the professor said.

Experts from around the world will broach tackling the “common suite” of problems of more rain, storms, and higher humidity exacerbated by freezing conditions at night and ever more mild winters at the inaugural Global Challenges in Cultural Heritage Conference.

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Project partners include world leaders in their field from the Palace Museum Beijing, University of Stirling and Historic Environment Scotland.

Prof Oram, Dean of the host university’s faculty of Arts and Humanities, below, said: “We are facing exactly the same kind of problems that are being faced all around the globe.

HeraldScotland: Professor Richard Oram

"It is increasing rainfall, increasing humidity, changes in temperature, it is the deterioration of building structures, stone work is becoming more porous, brick is being affected in different ways."

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He continued: "With Edinburgh Castle, amongst the other challenges you’ve got there, is that you are getting more and more frequent instances of storm force winds, for example.

“So with buildings that are in an elevated exposed site there is a real threat of basic structural damage."

He also said: "So how would you then cap the walls in such a way that doesn’t detract from their value and cultural heritage that basically increases their resilience and long terms sustainability?.

"Some of it is straightforward, making sure that the material that we are using are best suited to this kind of weather related impact and how do you use traditional materials more adventurously.

HeraldScotland: SKARA BRAE   PUBL. 8.10.1

"We in Scotland have basically got a range of technology and Historic Environment Scotland are global experts at this."

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He said: "The other aspect is the fact that these places are hugely visitor-attractive.

"Every single person walking into Edinburgh Castle is doing damage to the structure, just by footfall.

"So you need to monitor that and you have to think ‘can we change the visitor flow’ so that you are spreading the threat, you are moving the pressure points, you are ameliorating as much as you can at the pressure points.

"This is the sort of stuff we are looking at and we are looking at sites from here in Scotland, and the Forbidden City in Beijing as our partners in the project, but some of the papers we have coming to conference are from the Philippines, North America, South America, the European mainland and various places in Asia, and there is a commonality of problems around the world.

HeraldScotland: The Forbidden City, Beijing

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"The materials may be different and the degree of threat may be different, but ultimately there is a common suite of problems that we are all seeing."

Another topic will be how to prevent the elements claiming structures like Skara Brae, or whether we should as the "rate has accelerated".

The professor said: "Coastal erosions are a big problem.

"It is a combination, you’ve got coastal erosion plus the marginal sea level change which is gradually creeping up.

"There is increased storminess, it is on the west side of mainland Orkney, so it is in the direction of storms coming in off the North Atlantic.

"It is on a sandy site, so it is just eroding.

"It is a high profile site and is part of one of our World Heritage Sites.

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"It tends to be forgotten that there are actually hundreds if not thousands of similar, but not of the sophistication and quality of Skara Brae, but similarly threatened sites right down the Atlantic seaboard of Scotland.

“The archaeology is literally falling into the sea.

"The kinds of places that we value are now being threatened.

"Skara Brae is an immensely iconic site, but due to the location, the nature of that site is changing by the year."

He said that it ould reach the stage "where Skara Brae ends up more or less as a ring-fenced island in isolation as everything else around about it gets eroded away".

"You get to the point where you say how much can you actually do to prevent this and how much should you do?.

"This is one of the things that we are going to be talking about at the conference, it may be that we just have to decide that there are some places that we just cannot save so what do we do to actually makes sure we understand them and record them the best we can."

The conference is being over September 1-2.