On the death of Sir Walter Scott in 1832, the great and good of the city came together to agree on a fitting monument to this outstanding Scottish literary figure.
In 1836, an architectural competition was launched, inviting designs for an appropriate memorial. Two years later, the trustees approved the design submitted by George Meikle Kemp, and construction began in 1840.
The Scott Monument, the largest monument to a writer anywhere in the world, is a truly unique building.
Since the day the competition to design it was announced, the monument has been the subject of much controversy. The gothic masterpiece we see today was chosen from a long list of entries by some of the leading architects working in Britain.
The winner was completely unknown, with no track record of designing anything on this scale. And although his design is now celebrated throughout the world, he never lived to see it completed.
The story of the monument, and much more, is told within the monument’s Museum Room on the first floor. Visitors can discover more about Scott himself, his tumultuous life, his legacy on international literature, as well as the memorial built in his honour. Sound points enable visitors to listen to extracts from his writings.
The Museum Room is also the best place to view four magnificent stained-glass windows, designed by leading 19th century Scottish artist David Roberts and made by James Ballantine. They feature two saints, Andrew and Giles, as well as the coat of arms of the City of Edinburgh and the coat of arms of Scotland. The room also provides a welcome pause before embarking on the climb to the top.
Sitting proudly at the base of the monument is Sir Walter himself, carved in Carrara marble by Sir John Steell. This monumental statue, fashioned from a single piece of marble weighing 30 tons, took the sculptor six years to complete. It features Scott and his beloved hound Maida.
Visitors can find out more about Sir Walter Scott by calling into another of our city museums. The Writers' Museum, just 7 minutes’ walk from the monument, is free to enter and is open from Wednesday to Sunday each week. The museum includes a display on Scott, with original artefacts that belonged to the great writer.
Undeniably cool... Sir Walter Scott's monument is an amazing Gothic structure. The views are fantastic from all four levels you can climb to, and it's fun to be able to say you got to the top! I'm glad I did it. Ridgewood, New Jersey
The Scott Monument is a 2 Star Attraction