Scotlands History

Building the Scott Monument

After Sir Walter Scott’s death in 1832, the Victorians decided to build a permanent monument to the famous Scots author in Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh. The foundation stone of the Scott Monument was laid on 15 August 1840.

A competition was held to design the new monument. The winner had entered under the pseudonym of ‘John Morvo'. In reality he was the joiner and self-taught architect George Meikle Kemp. ‘Morvo’ had been a medieval architect that had worked on Melrose Abbey.

George Meikle Kemp had first been inspired by the Gothic wonders of Rosslyn Chapel when he was a 10-year-old boy. His design for the Scott Monument was based on the medieval Gothic architecture of Rosslyn and Melrose that Sir Walter Scott had himself incorporated into Abbotsford House.

A huge marble statue of Sir Walter Scott was created by sculptor John Steell. Sixty four statues of characters from Scott’s works were placed on statue niches around the Monument.  

George Meikle Kemp died in an accident a few months before the Scott Monument was completed. The Scott Monument was officially opened on 15 August 1846.

  • A photograph the construction of the Scott Monument.

Click on the image to view a larger version.