The figure of Sir Walter Scott towers in Scotland's history as the man who gave her back her lost national honor through his books, poems, and work in finding the Honours of Scotland. It's only fitting that Edinburgh's Sir Walter Scott Monument should also tower above the city's landscape at a whopping 200 feet. The Binny stone that the builders used quickly attracted dirt and soot, adding to the effect of the Victorian Gothic architecture. Many find the unique monument to be unattractive or obtrusive, but I think it echoes Scott's romantic imagination and does a splendid job of honoring his legacy. The creator of the Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, The Lady of the Lake, and so many other classics certainly deserves more than just a drab marker.
A huge statute of Scott and one of his faithful dogs sits at ground level, and another smaller version rests on the top level as a reward to the brave souls who survive the climb. Sixty-four other statuettes rest in niches and represent characters from his books, while banners etched in stone commemorate his most famous works.
The monument was inaugurated in 1846, though the last statuettes were not added until after 1881. It's most likely that R. M. Ballantyne, along with hundreds of other notables, climbed the 287 stone steps in memory of his father's friend and his own inspiration. The hundreds of names scraped into the walls certainly speak to many more recent visitors, though few of them probably fully understand Scott's impact on Scotland, as well as the rest of the English-speaking world. Praise God that the Scottish people, after rediscovering their heritage through Scott's work, have in turn honored Scott's heritage through this monument!
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