The history of the monument

A couple enjoying the view from the Scott Monument towards east Princes Street and  Calton HillSir Walter Scott (15 August 1771 - 21 September 1832) was a best selling novelist. His Waverley novels were hugely popular all over Europe, though he didn’t say publicly that he was the author until 1827.  Trained in the law, he was a leading Edinburgh citizen who re-discovered the hidden Royal Scottish Regalia in Edinburgh Castle and organized  the visit by King George IV in 1822  (the first British monarch to visit Scotland since Charles II in 1650). This event led to a  revival of wearing previously banned tartan.

George Meikle Kemp (1795 - 1844) a carpenter from Midlothian, designed the monument. He was much inspired by Melrose Abbey, and won the design competition over many established architects. Kemp drowned in the Union Canal before the monument was finished.

Sir John Steell (1804-91) sculpted the Italian Carrara marble statue of Scott with his deerhound, Maida, on the platform up seven massive steps. Steell set up the first 'art bronze' foundry in Scotland, and cast several other statues for the city.

'I am sorry to report the Scott Monument a failure. It is like the spire of a Gothic church taken off and stuck in the ground.' Charles Dickens,1858.

‘The finest…which has been raised anywhere on the earth to the memory of a man of letters
.’ Professor David Masson,1889.

More information about the Scott Monument and other aspects of industrial and urban Scotland can be found on the Learning and Teaching Scotland website.