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Contact Info

Arklow, County Wicklow

Info@classicconservation.ie

(+353) 83 026 9045

Justice Arch

The Justice Arch was Built around 1753 and is a located at the Cork Gate entrance to the castle’s Upper Yard. A neo classic structure containing a unique mix of different orders (Tuscan & Doric in particular). The structure consists of a main archway to provide access for vehicles and is flanked on each side by pedestrian entrances. The archway is supported by large Doric columns, rising up from plinth with moulded coping, and surmounted by entablature with a moulded stringcourse.

Above the arch is an open-topped segmental pediment containing a concave tapered pedestal carrying cast lead statue. The cast-lead sculpture was created by artist John Van Nost, providing a
visual contrast between the soft sculptural form of the figure and the robust rusticated nature of the gateway. The statue represents the concept of justice and is depicted as a woman holding a set of
scales in one hand and a sword in the other.

Prior to works commencing a detailed survey was carried out on the structure to best judge its condition.Upon initial review, it was found that two pieces of the stone work from the arch had broken off from the bed mould course of the entablature, resulting in the stone becoming loose and falling to the ground. 

Upon further inspection, it was concluded that the stone had deteriorated to such a high degree that it could no longer sustain the weight of the stones above the archway therefor no comfort could be taken in the overall integrity of the structure. This was evidenced further by the discovery of structural cracks in several locations. A decision was agreed that the broken pediment would be disassembled to further investigate why the archway failed. Following this the archway would be rebuilt & repaired to best ensure its longevity into the future.

 

 

 

Phase one of the works to the archway began in earnest with the disassembly of the broken pediment. A detailed sketch was produced of the archway, numbering and referencing each
individual stone and its location. Photos of each section were also taken to correlate to the detailed sketch. Beginning at the top and working down, each layer of the pediment was carefully removed. All individual stones were removed using hand tools by gently tapping around each stone to loosen the joint surrounding it. Hand tools were then used to gently remove redundant mortar still attached to the stone. This was done to best protect the condition of the original stone ensuring that no additional damage was caused to the stone during their removal.The removal for storage of the cast lead statue of Lady Justice posed a unique obstacle to overcome. This was done utilising a crane to carefully lower the statue to the ground with the highest level of care possible. The archway was continually assessed throughout the disassembly process. The findings included the discovery of significant water damage/rot to the supporting wood beam running through the archway. Similarly, wrought iron steel corrosion throughout the structure had resulted in the swelling and splitting of areas of the stone. The disassembly process concluded when a point was reached where a high degree of comfort could be taken in rebuilding on top of the original structure.

 

 

 

Instruction was given to have new stone cut to best match the original. Collecting several samples, we attended several quarries in order to best gauge a suitable replacement stone that would best match the original. McEvoy’s, a family run quarry in Ballyknocken Co. Wicklow was deemed to be the best and most suitable option. The beginning of the repair works to the archway commenced with the removal of the original wooden ring beam and installation new of a ring beam comprising of a stainless steel RSJ beam and limecrete. The limecrete was produced using a mix of NHL lime and high-density aggregate. The limecrete was then left to set & cure to provide a solid base for the pediment to be rebuilt upon. Once the newly constructed ring beam was installed, works commenced on the rebuilding the pediment using a mix of the original stone as well as the new stone sourced from the quarry. Indents were installed where required and each stone was carefully cramped using stainless steel bedded in molten lead (the same method in which was used in the original creation of the Archway). Cuts in the stone to receive the cramps were achieved using a mix of hand tools and drills to ensure optimal efficiency and stability. The stones were then bedded using a mix of NHL lime & sand. This process continued until the
entablature and broken two pediments were repaired and replaced. At this point the cast lead statue was carefully lifted and reinstated to its original position on the open-topped segmental pediment.

 

 

 

Much of the damage to the original stone on this project was caused by structural failure as well as wrought iron steel corrosion throughout the structure which had resulted in the swelling and
splitting of sections of the stone. This repair of these areas was achieved via a combination of stone graft repairs & brick repairs across various locations. Stone graft repair is a technique was used to repair and restore damaged or deteriorated stone surfaces via the insertion of new stone material into the existing stone to strengthen and stabilize it. Following the conclusion of the stone repair works to the main structure of the archway, the final process remaining was the re-point the Arch and all its components. Upon completion of all works, the site area and surrounding pavements were cleaned and washed to bring the surrounds back to its original state in preparation for handover to the client.

 

 

 

The restoration of the Justice Arch at Cork Gate Dublin Castle was one the most rewarding projects which we have been involved, encompassing all elements of the traditional methods of
conservation. Following its completion, the restoration of the Justice Arch was the recipient of being highly commended in the Irish Georgian Society Conservation Awards 2022.