National Monument, Edinburgh

National Monument, Edinburgh (must see)

The National Monument stands in unfinished splendour on Calton Hill and has been called a lot of names over the years, such as “Edinburgh’s Folly”, or “The Shame of Scotland”, but the idea behind building it was neither a folly nor a shame.

The idea to build a monument to the Scottish soldiers and sailors who died in the Napoleonic Wars of 1803 to 1815, was a good one; the only problem was that when asked to put their hands in their pockets, a lot of people lost their initial enthusiasm for the venture.

The monument was designed in 1823 by William Henry Playfair and Charles Robert Cockerall, but they kept fiddling with it and changing it until producing a final draft in 1826. They modelled it on the Athenian Parthenon and from the outset it should have been obvious that they had set their sights too high.

Building started in 1826 and 12 columns were built, along with the foundations and the inscription, which turned out to be rather ironic: “A Memorial of the Past and Incentive to the Future Heroism of the Men of Scotland”.

Funds finally ran out completely in 1829 and the monument you can see today hasn’t been touched since. Several proposals have been put forward over the years to complete the monument, but these plans have come to nothing.
This sight is featured in a self-guided walking tour in the iOS app "Edinburgh Map and Walks" on iTunes App Store or the Android app "Edinburgh Map and Walks" on Google Play. Please download the app for travel directions for visiting this sight. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline (so no data plan is needed).

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Sight Map

Sight Name: National Monument
Sight Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) containing this sight: New Town Walking Tour  


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