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National Monument

The National Monument
©2016 Gazetteer for Scotland

The National Monument

A notable feature of Edinburgh's sky-line, the National Monument lies on Calton Hill in the centre of the city. A never-finished version of the Greek Parthenon, the monument was built by C.R. Cockerell and William Playfair (1789 - 1857) as a memorial to the Scottish soldiers and sailors who died in the Napoleonic Wars. The huge 6-ton foundation stone was laid by King George IV during his visit to Scotland in 1822. Conceived as a church on a grand scale, with catacombs beneath as a place of burial, the building had notable supporters including Sir Walter Scott (1771 - 1832) and Thomas Bruce, Lord Elgin (1766 - 1841). Unfortunately the money ran out in 1829, after only part of the base and twelve columns had been built.

Often referred to as Edinburgh's Disgrace, schemes to complete the monument continued into the 20th Century. Today, the apparently ruined facade provides a strangely poignant memorial to the futility of war.


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