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Scott Monument Tips (62)

Elegant but dark

The cultural reference to Scotland, Walter Scott, couldn't pass without a significant monument in the capital.

Soon after his death, in 1832, the movement began, and in 1844 was finished this elegant tower 60 meters high. The statue in Cararra marble is a small white detail in the dark structure.

solopes's Profile Photo
Mar 21, 2016

Scott Monument

We build statues out of snow, and weep to see them melt.
Walter Scott

I got out of Princes Street Gardens at 8.45am and walked along Princes Street trying to kill some time until the Tourist Centre open (9.00am) so I decided to spend those 15minutes at the Scott Monument which is located just opposite Jenners department store dominating the south side of Princes Street.

Not really attractive for my personal taste, this Victorian gothic monument was made by Binny sandstone and it is dedicated to the Scottish author Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832). Although famous with many classics I must admit I’m familiar only with his historical novel Ivanhoe(1820).

Anyway the 61.1meters high was designed by George Maikle Kemp and it is by far the largest monument to a writer in the world. It was completed in 1844, twelve years after Scott’s death. At its base is the monumental statue of seated Scott and his dog Maida, designed by John Steel that used Carrara marble. Have in mind that the monument houses many smaller statues and busts of other poets, writers, characters in Scott’s novels plus two dogs and a pig! There are numerous viewing platforms that offer panoramic views of the town but it was closed at that time so I never climbed the narrow spiral staircases. I was taking photos of this space rocket-like monument when a homeless man approached me and we had some chat, I didn’t give any money but we shared some snacks I had with me that morning (some black chocolates)

From April to September it is open mon to Sat 10-19.00, sun 10-18.00
From October to March it is open mon to Sat 9-16.00, sun 10-18.00

The entrance fee is £4 if you decide to walk up the 287 steps (if you are claustrophobic skip it anyway)

mindcrime's Profile Photo
Jan 27, 2016

Mr Scott's rocket.....

The enormous sandstone memorial to Sir Walter Scott soars above Princes Gardens and is one of the first things which catches the eye when you emerge from Waverley railway station.

Sir Walter Scott: 1771 - 1832, was a massively popular Scottish novelist whose works are still read today (though I have to admit that his novels do nothing for me). He was born in Edinburgh (in a house on College Wynd) and attended university there. He practised as a lawyer, publishing his first works (poetry) in 1796 and his first novel in 1814. That novel was 'Waverley', for which Edinburgh's railway station is named.

Scott's tomb is in Dryburgh Abbey, near St Boswells in Roxburghshire, a ruined building he had long wanted as his last resting place.

His massive monument, is the largest to a writer in the world. It stands more than 200 feet high and is accessible to the public (287 steps!), with a series of viewing areas from which you can look across the city. the sandstone exterior, much blackened by 150+ years of Edinburgh smoke, was designed by one George Meikle Kemp. In 1838 he won the competition held to determine what the monument would look like.

Scott himself is tucked away at the base, a sculpture made of white Carrera marble created by John Steell. The writer is wrapped in a traditional shepherd's plaid and has his dog at his side.

Kemp's design included 90+ statues of both real people and characters in Scott's novels, only 64 of which can be seen from the ground.

The monument was formally dedicated in 1846 though Kemp, unfortunately, did not live to see it. He drowned in the Union Canal in 1844.

The monument has a rather patchy appearance now because, after much discussion, it was decided not to clean the whole thing. So the cleaner stone is evidence of where repairs and restoration have taken place, the dirty stone is the original.

Open year-round, though times vary and monument may be closed in adverse weather conditions. Entrance fee.

leics's Profile Photo
Nov 27, 2015

Scott Monument

This monument in the Prince Street garden is dedicated to the famous author, Sir Walter Scott. It was built in 1844 and besides Scott, 16 other Scottish writers and poets are honored in this monument.

Jim_Eliason's Profile Photo
Oct 18, 2015
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Scott Monument dominates the skyline in Princes Street, the largest monument anywhere in the world for a writer stands over 60 m high. I did not climb the 287 steps to the top on this occasion as i had been up to the top several times before. It is a Victorian Gothic monument with spiral staircases that has several viewing platforms on the way up where you can have some magnificent views over the city. The foundation stone was laid in 1840 but construction did not begin until the following year and it was 1845 when it was completed at a cost of 16,000 pounds. On the monument there are 68 figurative statues, all of which can be seen from the ground except for 4 that are above the viewing gallery that are almost impossible to see(use a telephoto lens to see them ). Eight kneeling Druids support the top viewing gallery. 16 heads of Scottish poets and writers are at the lower faces, top of the lower pilasters. All in all 93 people, two dogs and a pig are depicted

Sir Walter Scott's statue is actually inside the monument at the bottom and he can be seen sitting with his dog. Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) was a historical novelist, playwright , advocate and judge, but will be best remembered for his books, Rob Roy, Ivanhoe, Old Mortality and many more.

In 1832 a competition for the design of the monument was held and a guy named John Morvo, which was actually a pseudonym for George Melkie Kemp who was a joiner draftsman and architect but lacked qualifications, but his design was popular with the judges so in 1838 he was awarded the contract. Unfortunately he was absent for the inauguration as one night he was walking home from the construction site, fell into Union Canal and drowned.

davidjo's Profile Photo
Aug 10, 2015

A huge monument to one of Scotland's great writers

The high esteem in which Sir Walter Scott is held by the Scottish people is shown by this huge monument to him in East Princes St Gardens.
He is regarded as not only the first writer of historical novels but also arguably, the best. Born in Edinburgh in 1771, his poems and books brought him world wide acclaim during his lifetime and when he died in 1832 it wasn’t long before enough money was collected to build this 200ft Gothic tower.
Claimed to be the largest monument to a writer anywhere in the world, the foundation stone was laid in 1840 and completed by 1844. It was built of Binny Sandstone from Linlithgowshire (West Lothian today), but unfortunately Old Reekie has done its worst over the years and by the 1990s the stone was in need of some urgent attention. After close examination, it was felt that cleaning would do more harm than good and so it was decided to just carry out essential repairs with stone from the original quarry. The differences can clearly be seen.
The space rocket-like monument is richly decorated with characters from his novels and underneath the canopy is a statue of the man himself with his dog Maida.
For those of you who are slim, fit or just plain masochistic there are 287 steps to the top of the monument. I’m none of these and so I opted to just climb up to the 2nd level and call it a day. Back at ‘Ground Control’ you are presented with a certificate to say that you’ve climbed to the top, but really as far as I was concerned, it was just a receipt to say that I’d coughed up the 4 quid to get in.
There are still some decent views from the 2nd level but I’m sure they would be better still from the top, but it will depend on what time of day you go up. I would suggest that the morning would be best.

EasyMalc's Profile Photo
Mar 22, 2015

Scott Monument

If the Scott Monument looks like the spire of a church that's buried under Princes Street, that's because it basically is. Well there's no church, but the monument was designed by an architect who took his failed proposal for Glasgow Cathedral and built it partly in Edinburgh as a homage to one of Scotland's greatest writers - Sir Walter Scott. The design was a real hit with the judges, and it's hard to deny it's not one of the most striking monuments you will see. It's also the biggest monument to a writer in the world, so they say.

You can also climb to the top for some of the best views in Edinburgh, but the visit should come with some serious warnings before you hand over your money. I'm very thin and pretty fit, and even I struggled to squeeze through the ever narrowing staircases. They also spiral up so tightly you can get dizzy even without looking over the side. You might not want to risk it if you think you are so wide you might get stuck, and it's possible many people are.

antistar's Profile Photo
Oct 31, 2014

Why a monument to Scott but no one to Stevenson?

Works on the Scott Monument was begun in 1841 and only completed in 1845. It is 61 meters of hight with 287 steps inside to climb if you have payed the fee of 3£.

Askla's Profile Photo
Dec 20, 2012

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Scott Monument

This Victorian gothic monument is dedicated to the Scottish author 'Sir Walter Scott'.It stands in Princes st.Gardens in the city centre.The tower is 200ft,6 inches high,and has a series of viewing decks reached by a series of narrow spiral staircases giving panoramic views of the city and its surroundings.It is built from Binny sandstone quarried in nearby 'Ecclesmachan'.Bill Bryson described it as a giant Gothic rocket ship.
The monument was designed by 'George Meikle Kemp' a self taught architect who laid the first foundation in 1840,eight years after 'Scotts' death.It was restored in the mid 1990's with a cost of over 2 million funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the city of Edinburgh Council.

mickeyboy07's Profile Photo
Nov 10, 2012

Scott Monument

I climbed up Scott Monument in September 1999 and it was worth the climb for the great city views at the top. The monument is named after the famous writer, Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832), whose was know for his popular novels in Europe. George Meikle Kemp designed the monument and he was inspired by the Gothic designs of Melrose Abbey and Roslin Chapel. Sadly he did not live to see the completion of the monument and Sir John Steell added the marble statue of Scott and his dog, Maidan, on the platform before the monument structure.

The monument is 200 feet (or 61 metres) high with four levels made up of 287 steps. The monument was completed in 1946 and an inauguration ceremony too place on Scott's Birthday, 15th August 1840.

It cost 3.00 gbp (September 2012) to climb up the monument and is opened daily.

spidermiss's Profile Photo
Oct 15, 2012

The Scott Monument and Statue

On Princes Street in the center of Edinburgh there is a tall (200 feet 6 inches = 61.1 meters) monument to the Scottish author Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832).

Scott was the author of numerous books including the novel The Bride of Lammermoor, published in 1819. It is the story of a young woman, Lucy Ashton, who is forced by her family to marry a man she detests. She is driven to insanity, and stabs her husband on their wedding night.

This story formed the basis of the opera Lucia di Lammermoor by Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848), with its famous "mad scene" which goes on for about twenty minutes (after the stabbing) with mainly just the soprano and a haunting flute accompaniment. When people ask me what my favorite opera is I usually say this one, which I have seen in Hamburg, Hannover, Berlin and Darmstadt at various times. (I'm listening to Edita Gruberova sing it as I write this.)

Nemorino's Profile Photo
Jan 27, 2012

View from the Scott Monument

If you are not claustrophobic or afraid of heights you can pay three euros and climb a narrow winding staircase (287 steps according to the certificate they give you) up to the top of the Scott Monument, where you have fine views in all directions.

This particular photo shows the view looking more or less Northeast or East-Northeast at Calton Hill, and beyond that the Firth of Forth.

The monument was built starting in 1840, and was completed in 1844.

About halfway up (or down) there is a room with some information, also in audio form in several languages, about Scott's life and writings.

For some more views, please see my Views of Edinburgh travelogue.

Nemorino's Profile Photo
Jan 27, 2012

Things To Do Near Scott Monument

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Getting to Scott Monument


Princes Street Gardens East


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