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Members of project team in front of obelisk

Pictured (left to right): Ruth Simpson, Planning Officer; Ali Davey, Historic Environment Scotland; Ruth Davies, of Pollock Davies, Project Pattern Maker and Woodcarver; Dominic Liptrot, Managing Director of Lost Art Limited, Main Contractor; Damien Woolliscroft, Project Conservation Architect, WSP Consultants.

The iconic Bruce Obelisk has been restored and returned to its original place atop the Bruce Family tomb in Larbert Old Parish Church graveyard with an official ceremony recently to mark its return.

Crafted by the Carron Iron Works, the Obelisk commemorates the life of the explorer, James Bruce of Kinnaird, who died in 1794 and his wife Mary, who died in 1785. After being relocated in 1993, the monument recently showed significant signs of ageing, making restoration necessary.

Falkirk Council has led the restoration, with consultants WSP managing the project and Lost Art Limited carrying out the intricate repairs.

The restoration included repairs to the original ironwork and replication of missing parts including decorative embellishments and a protective paintwork finish. The pathway around the tomb has also been renewed.


Funding was awarded to the project by Historic Environment Scotland and Avondale Environmental, part of the NPL Group, through the Scottish Landfill Communities Fund.

Other funds came from Falkirk Council itself, through their Bereavement Services and Place-Based Funding streams. Donations were also given towards the project from Falkirk Local History Society and Falkirk Preceptory and Priory.

Obelisk being lowered into position

Pictured: The obelisk being carefully positioned in its location.

Michael McGuiness Head of Growth, Planning and Climate said: "The work that has been carried out on restoring this great historical artefact has brought it back to pristine condition and will be there for many decades to come for visitors to admire.

He added: “This project has not only restored a significant historical monument but also united the community, emphasising the importance of our shared heritage and the world-leading craftsmanship of the Carron Iron Works during the Industrial Revolution."

Gail Williamson, Grants Operations Manager at Historic Environment Scotland, said, “It's wonderful to see the Bruce Obelisk return home to Larbert this week. Work to repair the Obelisk has provided the opportunity for the community to get hands-on with their local history and learn about vital conservation skills.

“The project has also brought wider awareness of the Carron Ironworks and their place at the heart of the industrial revolution in Scotland.

Community involvement

The local community has also played a significant role in the restoration. In 2022, teachers and students from Larbert High School's Art and English Departments created projects inspired by James Bruce’s legacy, mentored by local historian Geoff Bailey.

A One Day Skills Event for Schools took place at Larbert High School in February 2024, where pupils from both Larbert High and St Mungo’s High Schools were given an opportunity to try their hand at the traditional skills applied in this project, under the supervision of experts.

Local groups, including Falkirk Made Friends, Communities Along the Carron, Forth Valley Traditional Building Forum and Larbert Old Parish Church, supported the project.

Lord Thurlow, a descendant of James Bruce, also confirmed his family’s support for the project. He said: “I am sure everyone is proud of the craftsmanship and detail that has gone into the work.

“It is particularly pleasing to note that you have engaged with schools and interest groups locally to involve them in the learning and skills employed by a number of trades and specialists in the various processes involved in this complex extensive cast-iron restoration.

“On behalf of all Bruces, I send my sincere thanks to those involved. The resting place of this great man has been a place for me of quiet contemplation in the past, and will continue to be so with added pride."