VITAL restoration work on the 132-year-old William Wallace statue - which towers over the entrance to the world-famous monument honouring the Scottish hero - is underway.

The bronze 14ft figure of Wallace will be carefully dismantled in sections and removed from the iconic landmark in Stirling for the first time since it was unveiled in 1887.

It will then undergo specialist restoration off site before being returned to take pride of place on the popular attraction ahead of its 150th anniversary celebrations in September.

The cost of this challenging project is estimated to be £260,000 and will be completed over the next 10 weeks.

The work will involve: repairs to the structural casting failures on the statue; cleaning, stabilisation and re-patination of the bronze to halt decay; cleaning out the internals of the statue; designing and inserting a new armature (skeleton); assessing and repairing the shield and sword.

The painstaking, expert work forms part of the overall restoration project at the National Wallace Monument, which is being funded by Stirling Council and is expected to total £515,000. 

The Monument was last year prioritised for restoration works by the Council and Stirling District Tourism – an independent charity which manages and operates the Monument – following a building and condition survey.

Stirling Council Leader Scott Farmer said: “We agreed this investment at a full Council meeting to safeguard the future of the National Wallace Monument, which is one of Scotland’s most iconic landmarks and one of Stirling’s most popular attractions.

“These essential repairs to the stunning statue of Wallace are hugely challenging and complex, but they will ensure this unique, global attraction is back in peak condition for the Monument’s 150th anniversary celebrations and for years to come.”

Stirling Council Deputy Leader Danny Gibson said: “It was critical we intervened as a Council to preserve this iconic statue, which is one of the first sights thousands of visitors see when they arrive at the Monument entrance. 

“I am delighted we are now progressing with the restoration and I’m looking forward to seeing the statue once it has been returned to its former glory.”

The William Wallace statue was created by renowned Edinburgh sculptor David Watson Stephenson and was added to the Monument in 1887.

Prior to work commencing, specialists used the latest technology to analyse its condition, guiding how they would perform the intricate task of its removal and restoration.

This included an x-ray survey, an endoscopic survey and ultrasonic thickness-mapping. A sample was also taken of the casting bronze to identify a match for repair metal and brazing wire.

The 220ft high Wallace Monument is one of Scotland’s most popular landmarks, attracting 140,000 visitors a year.

Designed by Glasgow architect John Thomas Rochead, it was constructed between 1861 and 1869 at a cost of £18,000.