“HES’s new conservation study gives us a detailed understanding of the impact on our own heritage sites and tells us what is required to protect and preserve them for the future.”David Mitchell, director of conservation at HES, said the much-needed funds will be invested in conservation work across the country, including, potentially, repairs at Edinburgh Castle, where an increase in precipitation has damaged masonry and been blamed for a series of rock fall incidents. “We will be planning the allocation to specific projects in the coming weeks in line with our conservation report,” he said. HES estimates that conservation and repair work to the value of £65 million is required over the next decade to restore and protect Scotland’s heritage sites.Yesterday the culture secretary, Fiona Hyslop, announced £6.6 million of funding to support repairs at Scotland’s most threatened attractions.“It is well understood that climate change is speeding up the natural process of decay at heritage sites across the world,” said Hyslop, speaking at Doune Castle, a medieval stronghold in Stirling, yesterday. Perched atop an extinct volcano in Scotland’s medieval capital, Edinburgh Castle is the country’s most popular paid-for attraction, pulling in roughly 1.4 million visitors a year. However, like a growing number of heritage sites across Scotland, this landmark attraction is under increasing threat from a range of factors, particularly climate change.At least that’s according to a new report compiled by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) – a public body set up to care for the nation’s historic monuments – which claims 53 per cent of the 352 sites it assessed are currently “at risk”. Glenbuchat Castle is one of Scotland’s most threatened historic sites, according to the reportCredit:ALAMY “As a result, both original and previously modified architectural detailing can sometimes struggle to deal with the demands of today’s climate.”The report warns that rising sea levels will pose an increasing threat to Scotland’s coastal sites in the coming years. “The changes to our weather patterns observed over previous decades are set to continue and accelerate, and related issues such as rising sea level will have a more significant impact on parts of the estate,” it says. Rising sea levels pose a danger to one of Orkney’s most treasured sitesCredit:ALAMY “Scotland’s climate is changing,” warns the report. “The last century has been characterised by overall warming with altered precipitation patterns leading to wetter winters, drier summers and increased frequency of extreme and unpredictable weather.”The report adds that many of Scotland’s historic monuments – including the Links of Noltland, a neolithic village in Orkney – are struggling to deal with climate change.“These altered precipitation patterns and increased frequency of extreme and unpredictable weather events impose additional stresses on buildings that could not have been foreseen during the construction or subsequent consolidation of historic monuments,” it says. Records show that average precipitation in Scotland has increased by 21 per cent since the Sixties, while annual snow cover has reduced by an average of 32 days in the same period.“These changes are predicted to continue and intensify through the present century, accelerating damaging impacts on Scotland’s environment and infrastructure, with significant consequences for economy and society,” concludes the report.