Scott Monument

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Not to be confused with Scott Statue.
The Scott Monument
Statuary detail Scott Monument, Princes Street, Edinburgh

The Scott Monument is a Victorian Gothic monument to Scottish author Sir Walter Scott. It is the largest monument to a writer in the world.[1] It stands in Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh, opposite the Jenners department store on Princes Street and near to Edinburgh Waverley Railway Station, which is named after Scott's Waverley novels.

Design and Concept[edit]

The tower is 200 feet 6 inches (61.11 m) high, and has a series of viewing platforms reached by a series of narrow spiral staircases giving panoramic views of central Edinburgh and its surroundings. The highest platform is reached by a total of 287 steps (those who climb the steps can obtain a certificate commemorating their achievement). It is built from Binny sandstone quarried near Ecclesmachan in West Lothian.

In terms of its location, it is placed on axis with South St David Street, the main street leading off St Andrew Square to Princes Street, and is a focal point within that vista, its scale being large enough to totally screen the Old Town behind. As seen from the south side, Princes Street Gardens, its location appears more random, but it totally dominates the Eastern Section of the gardens, through a combination of its scale and elevated position relative to the sunken gardens.

History[edit]

Scott's Monument as it appeared when nearly finished, in October 1844.
Masons working on the Monument, photographed by Hill & Adamson in the early 1840s
The Sir Walter Scott statue designed by John Steell, located inside the Scott Monument

Following Scott's death in 1832, a competition was held to design a monument to him. An unlikely entrant went under the pseudonym "John Morvo", the name of the medieval architect of Melrose Abbey. Morvo was in fact George Meikle Kemp, forty-five-year-old joiner, draftsman, and self-taught architect. Kemp had feared his lack of architectural qualifications and reputation would disqualify him, but his design (similar to an unsuccessful one he had earlier submitted for Glasgow Cathedral) was popular with the competition's judges, and in 1838 Kemp was awarded the contract to construct the monument.

John Steell was commissioned to design a monumental statue of Scott to rest in the space between the tower's four columns. Steell's statue, made from white Carrara marble, shows Scott seated, resting from writing one of his works with a quill pen and his dog Maida by his side. The monument carries 64 figures (carried out in three phases) of characters from Scott's novels by a variety of Scots sculptors including, Alexander Handyside Ritchie, John Rhind, William Birnie Rhind, William Brodie, William Grant Stevenson, David Watson Stevenson, John Hutchison, George Anderson Lawson, Thomas Stuart Burnett, William Shirreffs, Andrew Currie, George Clark Stanton, Peter Slater, [2] and two female representatives, Amelia Robertson Hill (who also made the statue of David Livingstone immediately east of the monument), who contributed three figures to the monument,[3] and the otherwise unknown Katherine Anne Fraser Tytler.

The foundation stone was laid on 15 August 1840. Following permission by an Act of Parliament (the Monument to Sir Walter Scott Act 1841 (4 & 5 Vict.) C A P. XV.), construction began in 1841 and ran for nearly four years. The tower was completed in the autumn of 1844, with Kemp's son placing the finial in August of the year. The total cost was just over £16,154.[4] When the monument was inaugurated on 15 August 1846, George Meikle Kemp himself was absent; Kemp having fallen into the Union Canal while walking home from the site on the foggy evening of 6 March 1844 and drowned.

Statues and locations[edit]

See[5][6]

In total (excluding Scott and his dog) there are 68 figurative statues on the monument of which 64 are visible from the ground. Four figures are placed above the final viewing gallery and are only visible by telephoto or (at a very distorted angle) from the viewing gallery itself. In addition, eight kneeling Druid figures support the final viewing gallery. There are 32 unfilled niches at higher level.

Sixteen heads of Scottish poets and writers appear on the lower faces, at the top of the lower pilasters. The heads (anti-clockwise from the NW) represent: James Hogg; Robert Burns; Robert Fergusson; Allan Ramsay; George Buchanan; Sir David Lindsay; Robert Tannahill; Lord Byron; Tobias Smollett; James Beattie; James Thomson; John Home; Mary, Queen of Scots; King James I of Scotland; King James V of Scotland; and William Drummond of Hawthornden.

In total, 93 persons are depicted, plus two dogs and a pig.


(S) represents a small figure
Location Figure Scott Novel associated Sculptor
North-East Buttress, lower tier, east Jock Dumbie, The Laird O’ Dumbiedykes The Heart of Midlothian William Brodie
North-East Buttress, lower tier, north-east Jeanie Deans The Heart of Midlothian William Brodie
North-East Buttress, lower tier, north Flora MacIvor Waverley John Hutchison
North Face, lower tier Ravenswood (S) The Bride of Lammermoor John Rhind
North Face, lower tier Lucy Ashton (S) The Bride of Lammermoor John Rhind
North Face, lower tier Caleb Balderstone (S) The Bride of Lammermoor William Grant Stevenson
North Face, central figure over arch Charles Edward Stewart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) Waverley and Redgauntlet Alexander Handyside Ritchie
North Face, lower tier Madge Wildfire (S) The Heart of Midlothian William Brodie
North Face, lower tier Davie Deans (S) The Heart of Midlothian Thomas Stuart Burnett
North Face, lower tier Effie Deans (S) The Heart of Midlothian Thomas Stuart Burnett
North-West Buttress, lower tier, north Louise, The Glee Maiden, playing a mandolin The Fair Maid of Perth John Hutchison
North-West Buttress, lower tier, north-west Hal O’ The Wynd The Fair Maid of Perth John Hutchison
North-West Buttress, lower tier, west Edith of Lorn The Lord of the Isles (poem) William Brodie
West Face, lower tier George Buchanan (S) Buchanan is a true historical figure referenced in many Scott novels John Rhind
West Face, lower tier Julia Mannering (S) Guy Mannering George Webster
West Face, lower tier Dirk Hatteraick (S) Guy Mannering William Birnie Rhind
West Face, central figure over arch The Harp O’ The North The Lay of the Last Minstrel James Ritchie
West Face, lower tier Rose Bradwardine (S) Waverley D. Buchanan
West Face, lower tier Dougal Cratur (S) Rob Roy Charles McBride
West Face, lower tier Catharine Glover, The Fair Maid of Perth (S) The Fair Maid of Perth David Watson Stevenson
South-West Buttress, lower tier, west Minna Troil The Pirate Amelia Robertson Hill
South-West Buttress, lower tier, south-west George Heriot (holding a model of George Heriot’s School) The Fortunes of Nigel Peter Slater
South-West Buttress, lower tier, south Baillie Nicol Jarvie Rob Roy George Anderson Lawson
South Face, lower tier Peter Peebles (S) Redgauntlet William Grant Stevenson
South Face, lower tier Constance (S) Marmion (poem) Katherine Anne Fraser Tytler
South Face, lower tier Wayland Smith (S) Kenilworth J.S. Gibson
South Face, central figure over arch Ellen Douglas, The Lady of the Lake The Lady of the Lake (poem) Peter Slater
South Face, lower tier Gurth the Swineherd, with a pig at his feet (S) Ivanhoe William Shirreffs
South Face, lower tier Queen Elizabeth I (S), originally holding an orb and sceptre Kenilworth William Walker
South Face, lower tier Claverhouse (S) Old Mortality William Birnie Rhind
South-East Buttress, lower tier, south Rebecca Ivanhoe George Clark Stanton
South-East Buttress, lower tier, south-east Diana Vernon Rob Roy George Anderson Lawson
South-East Buttress, lower tier, east Mary, Queen of Scots The Abbot David Watson Stevenson
East Face, lower tier Dugald Dalgetty (S) A Legend of Montrose John Rhind
East Face, lower tier The Abbess (S) Marmion (poem) William Grant Stevenson
East Face, lower tier Montrose (James Graham) (S) A Legend of Montrose David Watson Stevenson
East Face, central figure over arch Meg Merrilees, the gypsy (originally holding a green bough of copper, now missing) Guy Mannering Alexander Handyside Ritchie
East Face, lower tier Richie Moniplies, a well-dressed servant (S) The Fortunes of Nigel John Rhind
East Face, lower tier The Lady of Avenel (S) The Monastery and The Abbot Thomas Stuart Burnett
East Face, lower tier Sir Piercie Shafton (S) The Monastery George Clark Stanton
North-East Buttress, upper tier east Old Mortality (Robert Paterson) leaning on a walking stick Old Mortality Andrew Currie
North-East Buttress, upper tier, north-east Robert the Bruce The Lord of the Isles (poem) George Anderson Lawson
North-East Buttress, upper tier, north Edie Ochiltree The Antiquary George Anderson Lawson
North Face, upper tier, left of window Charles I Mentioned in several Scott novels David Watson Stevenson
North Face, upper tier, right of window John Knox, holding an open Bible towards the street Mentioned in several Scott novels John Rhind
North-West Buttress, upper tier, north Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester Kenilworth William Brodie
North-West Buttress, upper tier, north-west Amy Robsart Kenilworth William Brodie
North-West Buttress, upper tier, west Baron Bradwardine Waverley John Hutchison
West Face, upper tier, left of window Helen MacGregor holding a sword and targe Rob Roy William Brodie
West Face, upper tier, right of window Rob Roy MacGregor Rob Roy John Rhind
South-West Buttress, upper tier, west Magnus Troil The Pirate Amelia Robertson Hill
South-West Buttress, upper tier, south-west King James VI The Fortunes of Nigel David Watson Stevenson
South-West Buttress, upper tier, south Halbert Glendinning The Monastery and The Abbot David Watson Stevenson
South Face, upper tier, left of window Balfour of Burley Old Mortality William Birnie Rhind
South Face, upper tier, right of window Oliver Cromwell Woodstock William Brodie
South-East Buttress, upper tier, south Saladin The Talisman George Clark Stanton
South-East Buttress, upper tier, south-east Friar Tuck Ivanhoe George Clark Stanton
South-East Buttress, upper tier, east Richard the Lionheart Ivanhoe, The Talisman and The Betrothed Amelia Robertson Hill
East Face, upper tier, left of window Ivanhoe, in chainmail and plumed helmet, visor dropped, holding a heavy lance Ivanhoe John Rhind
East Face, upper tier, right of window Brian de Bois-Guilbert, Knight Templar Ivanhoe William Birnie Rhind
Head of North-East Buttress, attaching main spire Wamba the Jester Ivanhoe unknown
Head of North-West Buttress, attaching main spire Crusader Tales of the Crusaders unknown
Head of South-West Buttress, attaching main spire The Abbot, holding a staff and rosary (nose missing) The Abbot unknown
Head of South-East Buttress, attaching main spire Nun clasping a cross Appear in several Scott novels unknown
Pinnacle, above upper gallery, north Meg Dods St Ronan’s Well unknown
Pinnacle, above upper gallery, west Dominie Sampson (fingers restored 1999) Guy Mannering unknown
Pinnacle, above upper gallery, south Mause Headrigg Old Mortality unknown
Pinnacle, above upper gallery, east Dandie Dinmont with his terrier at his feet Guy Mannering unknown

Modern administration[edit]

In the early 1990s it was proposed that the stonework should be cleaned. There were views for and against cleaning and a scientific/geological investigation, including cleaning trials on samples of stone, was carried out. It was decided not to clean the stone due to the damage it would sustain. A restoration programme was undertaken involving replacing old repairs and damaged areas with Binny stone for which purpose the original quarry was re-opened.[7] The fresh stonework contrasts with the smoke-darkened original.

The overall cost of the restoration was £2.36 million and was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Scotland and the City of Edinburgh Council.[8]

The monument is now administered by the Culture and Sport division of the City of Edinburgh Council. (See External Links for visitor information.)

A panorama of Edinburgh, seen from the Scott Monument

In popular culture[edit]

The monument is featured prominently in the movie Cloud Atlas, as a location which the character Robert Frobisher frequents.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Museums and galleries - Scott Monument". The City of Edinburgh Council. 
  2. ^ "The Character Statues". 
  3. ^ Buildings of Scotland:Edinburgh by Gifford McWilliam and Walker
  4. ^ "The Scott Monument". 
  5. ^ http://orapweb.rcahms.gov.uk/wp/00/WP000440.pdf
  6. ^ http://sites.scran.ac.uk/scottmon/pages/hisnovels/hisnovels_list.htm
  7. ^ "The Monument". Retrieved 31 January 2012. 
  8. ^ As stated on an information panel in the monument

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 55°57′8.7″N 3°11′35.8″W / 55.952417°N 3.193278°W / 55.952417; -3.193278