b'ARCHITECTUREPrevious pages, from left: thistle detailing; one of Skibos ornate stone staircases. This page, from top: crow-stepped gables; Skibo in 1901. Opposite: the terrace stonework, featuring Psalm 121vulnerable to erosion, and a century of Highland winters has taken its toll on some of the more exposed parts of Skibos stonework. The question of how to respond to this issue fell to estate director Gary Gruber, who today oversees a programme of conservation, repair and restoration of the historic architecture that aims to retain and protect as much of the original stone as possible and, where it is not possible to retain it, to replace it in a sensitive and authentic way. When the project began in 2014, Gruber knew that two aspects needed to be considered: material and craftsmanship. The Evelix Quarry had long since closed, so62the question for Gruber was where he could source sandstone as similar to the original as possible. He commissioned a petrographic analysis from the British Geological Survey, which studied the Skibo sandstone in the hope of matching it to a commercially available stone. We were in luck, says Gruber. They discovered that Skibo sits at the north of the Raddery Sandstone Formation, that extends 30 miles south-east to Elgin, and so we now use a quarry there, which excavates sandstone geologically identical to that which was hewn here on the estate a century ago. With suitable replacement stone sourced, Gruber visited Culzean Castle and Dumfries House to investigate how they were responding to stone degradation. I found that they were facing the same problem we were at Skibo: whether it was caring for historic stonework, leaded windows or parquetry, there just werent enough craftspeople to cope with the demand. This skills shortage has been recognised by organisations such as The Princes Foundation, which operates a programme of'