Scott Monument

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! We’re too far removed from the holidays now to bask in the nostalgia and still a few weeks away from the the warmth and beauty of a new season. We’re caught in that yucky in-between time where winter feels unrelenting. Hurry up spring!

Friends, today I want to take a look at an iconic feature of Edinburgh’s skyline. When you visit the city, you notice right away that the landscape is dotted with spires. Perhaps the most recognizable among them is the awesome, gothic tower that looks as if it could have come straight out of J.R.R. Tolkien’s imagination.

This is the Scott Monument, erected to honor the memory of one of Scotland’s beloved literary sons, Sir Walter Scott.

Doesn’t it make you think of the Tower of Orthanc?
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.  

Construction of the monument began in 1840 and was completed within four years.  But sadly, Mr. Kemp never saw the completion of his vision.  Tragically, 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.

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 1990’s, 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 personally have not been inside the monument, but the views of the city from up there must be just incredible!

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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