The Port Arch

Now it is installed and just awaits final landscape work

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The bronze for the Port Arch is now complete: Images taken at the Scottish Sculpture Workshop where most of the work on the piece was done

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Some parts were cast at SSW, some at Black Isle Bronze

  Casting part of the Port Arch at SSW

The Design

Gateway Sculpture for Port Elphinstone (renders from the design work on computer):

The design is a cast bronze arch, about 5 feet in height. The inspiration for the form is the semi-circular arch form found in several places around the remains of the Aberdeenshire Canal terminus in Port Elphinstone. The form is also apt in relation to the Don bridges, since the canal and the bridges were the reasons for the existence of Port Elphinstone in the first place.

The main arch stands on two plinths to give it greater presence. One is derived fom the general mass of a standing stone, inspired by those just across the road from the site at Broomend of Crichie, the other is a smaller arch, placing two arches in conjunction, as can be seen at the old port. The form is tapered and has a circular hole through the apex, to lighten and add interest to the structure.

The top surface of the form has a series of symbols cut into it, a Timeline depicting significant events in the history of Port Elphinstone. These are in the style of Class I Pictish carvings (as found on stones across the road) and the themes have been selected in consultation with local groups and individuals. The designs are worked up with as much input as possible from local young people, and it is hoped that they will participate right through to carving the symbols into the pattern for casting, which will be done at the Scottish Sculpture Workshop at Lumsden, who are very supportive of the project.

The bronze will stand on Kemnay granite in approximately the location shown below, which is on the way in to Port Elphinstone, shortly after turning off the A96.

Click here for an interactive 3D view

The Story Depicted by the Sculpture “The Port Arch”

The main form of the two arches is inspired by the semicircular arches typical of the remaining evidence of the Aberdeenshire Canal at Port Elphinstone, its terminus being the reason for the existence of the town, and also representing the Don bridges.

The Incised Carvings on the Arch (in Pictish Class I style)

The series of symbols is intended to represent a Timeline, showing important events in the history of Port Elphinstone, from pre-history right up to 2004.

Narrow side facing the road pointing at the stone circle

The pedestal below the narrow end of the arch represents the most ancient theme, a standing stone, representing the important stone circles and avenue close by at Broomend of Crichie 

From the bottom up:

1.     On it is carved a Z-rod and double disc, typical enigmatic abstract Pictish Class I symbols.

2.     Above this there is a representation of the Bass, with a tower on top. The fortification on the Bass was the focus of habitation in the area in the Middle Ages before Port Elphinstone existed. The tower refers both to the one which once existed on the Bass and to the reference to this on the Inverurie coat of arms.

3.     Finally on this side of the Arch, a spider and its web represents the impact of Robert the Bruce on the area in the early C14th.


Wide side facing the building and the pavement

The pedestal is an arch, water and bridges being fundamental to the town. A large and small semicircular arch, as on the sculpture, exist in the canal remnants.

NB symbols are drawn as rough indicators
only at this stage of planning

The symbols sketched in the above drawings indicate roughly, from the top down:

1.     The old stone bridge.

2.     The canal: horse-drawn barge

3.     Within a cartouche: symbols representing products traded in port Elphinstone in the C18th (corn, livestock, coal, fertilizers, household goods etc)

4.     The meal mill and early paper mill: represented by a water wheel

5.     The railway comes: a steam locomotive

6.     The new school: represented by its bell

7.     Pittendrigh Macgillivray : represented by a bust on pedestal

8.     The brewery and distillery: represented by barrels

9.     The 1925 Don bridge

10.  The bulb farm: represented by daffodil, tulip and bulb in a cartouche

11.  Aberdeenshire County Council Depot: A snowplough?

12.  Wildlife: birds (swan and heron, sand martin over)

13.  The new paper mill: symbol derived from a distinctive photograph of some details

14.  Peter Nicol: squash racquet.

15.  Thainstone market: representation?

16.  The bypass: the new bridge

The symbol designs are being worked up by young people from Port Elphinstone:

Click here to see the Port School P7 designs