People at the top of the Scott Monument overlooking Princes Street Gardens
Credit: Edinburgh Museums

Scott Monument

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Scott Monument, East Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh, EH2 2EJ

The Scott Monument is a Victorian Gothic tower on Princes Street Edinburgh, dedicated to the Scottish novelist Sir Walter Scott. It is the largest writer’s monument in the world, standing 61 metres tall. Visitors can climb 287 steps to the top for magnificent views of the city and surrounding countryside.

History of the Scott Monument

Sir Walter Scott was an incredibly popular novelist, known for great classics including Ivanhoe, Rob Roy and Waverley. Following his death in 1832, the public called for a monument in his honour. So they formed a committee and held a design competition for the contract. The winning entry came from joiner and self-taught architect George Meikle Kemp. On 15th August 1840, the anniversary of Scott’s birthday, they laid the first stone. But sadly, Kemp died in an accident before the team completed it in Autumn 1844.

A white marble statue of Sir Walter Scott, by sculptor John Robert Steell, sits at the bottom of the tower. It shows a double-life-sized Scott sitting with a book and quill in his hand and his dog Maida at his side. The tower is incredibly detailed with gothic spires and intricate stonework. And it’s also adorned with 64 statues of characters from Scott’s novels.

“A monument that makes the haill
O’ Princes Street look oot o’ scale
And wi’ its Gothic trumpheries
As different as chalk and cheese
Sic is yon ferly o’ an alter
For worshippers o’ great Sir Walter”
Extract from The Scott Monument by Douglas J Fraser

Visit the Scott Monument

The monument is open all year round and visitors may climb the 287 steps to the top for stunning views of Edinburgh. However, please note the staircase gets narrower as you ascend. Those with a fear of heights or confined spaces may wish to avoid.

Visit the Edinburgh Museums website for ticket prices and more information.