Scott Monument-Edinburgh’s Iconic Gothic Spire

Hi friends. I have a case of the glooomies. I can think of no other reason except that it’s the end of February, which here in Virginia feels like the purgatory of months. It may be the shortest month, but somehow it feels like the longest! Hurry up, spring!

Decorative image.

Today we’re going to take a look at one of Edinburgh’s most iconic structures – the Scott Monument.  

The Scott Monument with the buildings of New Town behind it.

The Scott Monument is an awesome, gothic tower built as a tribute to one of Scotland’s most beloved writers, Sir Walter Scott. I think it looks as if it could have come straight out of J.R.R. Tolkien’s imagination! 

A painting of Walter Scott.
Sir Walter Scott, 1771-1832

Sir Walter Scott was a poet and novelist who authored such works as “Lady of the Lake” and “Ivanhoe.”  He is credited with having created the historical novel, upon the publication of  “Waverly” in 1814.


In 1836, four years after Scott’s death, the city of Edinburgh announced an architectural competition, by which individuals were encouraged to submit proposals for a monument befitting the deceased writer. In 1838, George Meikle Kemp, an unknown carpenter and self-taught architect was chosen as the winner of the competition. Additionally, a gentleman by the name of Sir John Steell was chosen to sculpt the marble carving of Scott and his dog Maida that lies at the base of the tower.

Scott Monument in black and white.

Construction of the monument began in 1840 and was completed within four years.  Sadly, Mr. Kemp never saw the completion of his vision.  He drowned in March 1844, just a few months before the project was finished. Such a sad ending for a man who must have felt so proud of what he had accomplished.

The Scott Monument and Princes Street Gardens.

At one time, Edinburgh’s air hung heavy with thick, choking smog caused by chimney and coal fire.  As a result of the soot, many of the buildings took on a black appearance.  Despite an effort to clean the Scott Monument in the 1990s, it still retains a dark complexion.

It is one hundred seventy-five years later, and George Meikle Kemp’s legacy remains alive. Today, visitors to the Edinburgh monument can learn about its story as well as the life of Sir Walter Scott when they visit the Museum Room on the first floor. Or, for panoramic views of the city, climb the narrow spiral staircase to the top. I have not been inside the monument, but the views of the city from up there must be just incredible!

Edinburgh, Scotland and the Scott Monument.

Have you climbed to the top of the Scott Monument? If you are a fan of Walter Scott, what are some of your favorites among his works? Leave a comment and let me know.

Well, that’s it for today, folks. I’ll see you again next time, and hopefully, by then, I’ll have a little more “spring” in my step. 😀


*black and white photo courtesy of Pixabay

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