“ The Scott Monument is a victorian gothic monument to Scottish author Sir Walter Scott. It stands in Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh, opposite the Jenners department store on Princes Street and near to Waverley Station. The tower is 200.5 feet or 61.1 metres tall, and the small viewing deck near the top which gives a panoramic view of central Edinburgh and its surroundings is reached by a narrow spiral staircase with 287 steps. It is built from Binnie shale quarried in nearby Livingston; the oil which continues to leech from its matrix has helped to glue the notoriously filthy atmosphere of victorian Edinburgh (then nicknamed "Auld Reekie" old smokey) to the tower, leaving it an unintended sooty-black colour. It is often noted for looking like a 'gothic missile'. Following Scott's death in 1832, a competition was held to design a monument to him. An unlikely entrant went under the pseudonym "John Morvo", the name of the medieval architect of Melrose Abbey. Morvo was in fact George Meikle Kemp, forty-five year old joiner, draftsman, and self-taught architect. Kemp had feared his lack of architectural qualifications and reputation would disqualify him, but his design (which was similar to an unsuccessful one he had earlier submitted for the design of Glasgow Cathedral) was popular with the competition's judges, and in 1838 Kemp was awarded the contract to construct the monument. „
Walking through Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh is a wonderful experience for many reasons but the reason I love to take a stroll is to see all the monuments. On the eastern side is a fantastic piece of Gothic architecture dedicated to Sir Walter Scott; a very popular Scottish novelist, poet and playwright. My favourite books of his are Rob Roy and Ivanhoe. He wasn't only famous in the United Kingdom but all over the world and had a very successful career as a writer.
On my visit in June of this year, I could see a superb piece of architecture as I approached the eastern side of the gardens and although its Gothicness stands out a mile there is something rather odd about the design of the structure. I think it is something to do with the way the columns slope upwards forming a point. In some ways it looks like a jet or a rocket. At first I didn't notice the marble monument placed inside the space, resting between the four columns, as I was facinated by this Victorian masterpiece.
The figure of Scott was designed by John Steell and made from Carrara marble which is quarried in Tuscany, Italy. The colour of the monument is a contrast against the background of the grimy coloured sandstone of the towers and columns of the Gothic structure which was built from a very durable stone known as Binny stone. This particular type of stone attracts grime and soot caused by Edinburgh's pollution because it contains a residue of shale oil.
At first when I looked at the marble figure of Scott I thought it was white but looking a bit closer I noticed that it was flecked with grey.The monument has a somewhat sad look about it. Scott looks in a pensive mood as he sits with his dog beside him, his book closed and his mind, obviously somewhere else. Perhaps the story he was writing wasn't finished and he was thinking of an ending or perhaps he was tired and just having a rest. The finish of the sculpture is very smooth. I wanted to stroke his head of hair and also the dog who has a devoted expression on his face. I love the way Scott's cloak flows around his legs in large folds. His shoes are beautifully carved as are his hands and face.
Inside the stone structure are a series of viewing platforms. To reach these you have to climb a very narrow, spiral staircase which makes you feel a bit dizzy if you rush up the steps too quickly. The monument is just over 200 feet high and the top viewing deck is situated at the top of the 287th step. I really do not like heights but over the last few months I seem to have been looking at views from many great heights. This particular one wasn't too high and I didn't feel to bad. It was worth the trip up the staircase just to see the beautiful views of Edinburgh. The light on this day was perfect and I was able to see a long way off. We were the first couple to ascend the stairs as it was early and crowds hadn't gathered but I dread to think what it would be like in high season with a constant stream of people trailing up and down the staircase, very claustrophobic, I am sure.
There is an admission fee to pay of £3. This is for adults and children and I think this is a bit high as you are only walking up the staircase but on the other hand the views are exceptional. There isn't any wheelchair access, by the way.
There are many monuments to see in Edinburgh but I do really like this one very much. The Gothic structure is unusual and the way the marble figure of the famous writer is placed between the columns, adds a little mystery and magic to the whole monument.
Opening times: April - September: Monday - Saturday 10am - 7pm; Sunday 10am - 6pm.
October - March: Monday - Saturday 9am - 4pm; Sunday 10am - 6pm.
Address: The Scott Monument, East Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh EH2 2EJ
Tel: 0131 529 4068
The Scott monument is one of the first things you will notice when arriving in Edinburgh thanks to its size and its location in the Princes Street gardens.
The monument dates back to 1844 and was erected to commemorate the life and times of the Scottish author Sir William Scott. If anything though the monument looks even older thanks to its blackened appearance which is thanks to the type of sandstone that it was built from which is known to attract dirt and blacken quickly. This really adds to its gothic look and even on a sunny day the monument looks imposing and severe.
Although the tower is a beautiful monument and you can appreciate it from the outside you should really go up the tower so that you can experience the views from the top which are some of the finest in all of Edinburgh.
Entry to the tower costs about £4 and for this you get to climb all the way to the top of the tower.
The tower reaches over 61 metres high and there are nearly 300 steps to reach the top. The views over both the old town and the new town make the climb well worth it however and it really should be on your list of things to do in the city.
Getting up to the top is hard work as the stairs up start to get really narrow the further to the top you get. This makes getting past people on the way down a hair raising experience but for me it all just added to the experience.
Again on the way down the tower things get a little hairy when you are passing people on the way up and the biggest piece of advice that I could offer people would be to wear decent shoes and certainly not flip flops as these could cause you to trip or slip and the climb is already scary enough without that happening.
Along the way up and down the tower there are a few viewing platforms where you can take in the view and have a little rest. On one of the platforms there is a small display where you can get some history of the monument and see how it was built. This was worth looking at as it gave me more history of the monument and told me things that I didn't already know about.
When you get to the bottom of the monument after climbing to the top you definitely feel as though you have accomplished something and even with the shaky legs from the climb it was well worth it and is something I would like to do when perhaps the day isn't so sunny so that I can get an even better view of the surroundings.
When you travel through edinburgh you cant help but see the impressive and huge scott monument which sits in the middle of princes street gardens. If you are taken in by taxi from the airport the driver is sure to point out this impressive gothic feature and advise you to have a closer look and if you dare go up it.
Its gothic architecture is fabulous and stands out and is a focal point within the city centre. Its architecture is simply exquisite and unique and if you go to see it for yourself close up then you can have the added bonus of actually going up it to the top which is a fantastic experience.
The cost to go into the monument is approx £3 and albeit the views are incredible and you can see far out onto fife and the sea right across the city this is not an experience for the weak, tired, young or elderly and those who may have a little more weight than the average.
Once entering the monument you walk up incredibly steep, tiny and narrow spiral staircases, which go on and on, until you get to the first level. You can get out at each level and view it by walking around the area, and note although obvious the levels get more difficult and narrower the furthur you go up.
It is incredibly tiring to walk up these steps and so much so that I nearly passed out with exhaustion, so make sure you are able and fit before you even attempt this sight. Once on the first level and have walked around it to view each direction of edinburgh you can then take the wise option and walk straight back down or continue upwards to the next level. The steps get narrower and steeper and are indeed quite frightening at some points.
Once upon this level you can again walk around and view and then again go onto the third and final level, this however is slightly more disconcerting. The staircase gets incredibly tight towards the end so much so that one gentleman who was in front of us could not get through and had to walk back down, hence the weight and size issue. Its simply to warn you that unless you are of thin stature do not walk to the top because I am of small frame and had to squeeze through myself. Once at the top the views are simply incredible and beautiful and no nothing can beat this, so in that respect its well worth it, but be warned and go with caution.
Excellent for photographers and the sights go on for miles, its incredibly windy however and you feel like your swaying a little, as well as being very cold.
Its certainly a view to see and if you are able to go up and enjoy but its tiring and exhasuting so just be aware before you pay to do so and certainly dont take young children.
~ ~ If you ever find yourself visiting the ancient old capital of Scotland, Edinburgh, and are looking to get a good oversight of the whole city, then you might like to visit this historic old monument in Princes Street Gardens, standing literally in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, and climb the 287 steps to the top of its 200 foot high tower. ~ ~ I climbed this many times as a youngster living in Scotland, and again on a recent visit with my wife and little lass, and although the climb will leave you a bit short of breath, the view out over the old city and the adjoining Firth of Forth makes it well worth the effort, and is truly magnificent. ~ ~ This monument was built over 150 years ago, between 1840 – 46, as a permanent memorial to Sir Walter Scott, the famous Scot’s author. It actually caused some controversy at the time, as the city fathers held a competition for the best design, which was won by an astute fellow called George Meikle Kemp. He had no formal qualifications, and actually entered the competition under an assumed name, John Morvo, who was a well-known master mason at Melrose Abbey in the Scottish Borders. His design didn’t even come first in the competition, but after he had altered and embellished it somewhat, he was eventually awarded the contract, much to the dismay of many better-qualified architects in the city. ~ ~ There’s a statue of Scott himself standing below the arches of the monument, that was crafted from fine Carrara marble imported all the way from Italy. This was nearly never erected, as the marble seemingly fell of the ship while being unloaded at the docks, and was submerged under several feet of salt water, but its soaking doesn’t seem to have caused it any permanent harm. ~ ~ The monument itself was built in sandstone from a local quarry, which was probably a bad idea, as the soft stone has not stood the test of time too well, and has corroded q
uite badly in places over the years, leaving the monument with a sort of dappled effect in places. No doubt the pollution from the time when Edinburgh was nicknamed “Auld Reekie” because of the permanent haze of smoke from coal fires in the city, had much to do with this erosion. In fact, I believe it was actually closed to the public for a while as a result of wear and tear. ~ ~ It isn’t an expensive attraction, and will only cost you £2.50 per head to visit. On entry, you get a little pamphlet explaining some of the history, and also a sketch outlining your way to the top. (I would have thought that it was fairly obvious, but still) Be warned though. If you are afraid of heights, or suffer from claustrophobia, then this isn’t for you. There are three levels to the tower, and you can stop at each to catch your breath and read some of the historical information posted on the boards on the walls. The stone staircase to the first level is spacious and wide, but once you get past the first level, the stairwells get progressively narrower and smaller. By the time you reach the last stairway to the top, you will be bent nearly double, and it is so narrow that if you meet someone going in the opposite direction you could very easily strike up an intimate relationship. In fact, there is hardly room to pass at certain points. The citizens of old Edinburgh must have been a very small breed of people!! ~ ~ If you have the energy and staying power to get all the way to the “summit”, then you will find yourself perched on a very narrow gallery. But the splendid views out over the skyline of the capital, with the Castle as a backdrop, make it well worth the effort. ~ ~ Kids love this place, by the way, and consider it a great adventure. And don’t worry about them falling off!! The security measures are very good. Watch out for the hundreds of pigeons though, or you might well end
up with an unexpected dry cleaning bill. (not nice!!!) Worth a visit, especially if you’re on a family trip.