What The Scott? A Monument to Write Home About

The Scott Monument

Set in the heart of Edinburgh, along Princes Street, stands a literary beacon like no other – The Scott Monument. A giant Gothic tribute to one of Scotland’s most beloved writers, Sir Walter Scott, this colossal towering structure is the largest monument dedicated to a writer in the world. At 200 feet 6 inches (61 metres high), you need to climb 287 steps just to reach the top. But despite the narrow staircases and occasionally high winds, the climb is well worth the view.

The Man Behind The Story

Statue of Sir Walter Scott Edinburgh

Born in Edinburgh in 1771, Sir Walter Scott would one day become the voice of Scottish literature and the founder of the historical novel genre. Despite a demanding legal career and a descent into bankruptcy, Scott’s literary work was a huge success. So he managed to (quite literally) write his way out of debt. As strong as his earlier works were, it was his Waverley novels that secured his popularity. In a time when the wounds of Scotland and England’s turbulent past were still so fresh, Scott was able to capture the romantic, noble and yet brutal Highlands like never before. Through the eyes of his characters, he told the history of the Highlands and the Jacobite risings. With a few fantastical twists and turns along the way.

Scott Monument: Something To Write Home About

The Scott Monument on Princes Street in Edinburgh

Following the death of Scotland’s most cherished poet, novelist, ballad collector, critic, and man of letters, a competition was held to design a monument befitting the legacy Sir Walter Scott had left behind. On the 15th of August 1840 (Scott’s birthday), the foundation stone was laid. Then work officially began on the Scott Monument. It opened exactly six years later. And like all great Gothic architecture throughout Edinburgh, the devil is in the detail. If you look closely, you will see 64 characters from Scott’s novels. While a statue of the man himself with his dog sits quietly within.

Today, Scott Monument is an iconic part of Edinburgh’s famous skyline. Nestled between Princes Street Gardens and Waverley Station (another tribute to Scott’s literary legacy), thousands of people pay tribute to one of Scotland’s greatest literary treasures by climbing the steps of Scott Monument every year.

To find out more about the Scott Monument, Edinburgh’s fascinating history or more great attractions, discover our amazing city with Parliament House Hotel.