Appeal to build Mary, Queen of Scots statue

The bronze statue of Mary, Queen of Scots. Picture: comp
The bronze statue of Mary, Queen of Scots. Picture: comp
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SHE is arguably the most famous woman in Scottish history, her life encompassed by love, tragedy and scandal.

Yet centuries later, Mary, Queen of Scots is still without an official statue in the land she most famously ruled.

Earlier calls to immortalise her in bronze outside the Scottish Parliament were thrown out by politicians who said it would not fit in with the then new building. Now the Marie Stuart Society is appealing to the public to help fund an £80,000 monument at her birthplace, Linlithgow Palace.

The 200-member society has drawn up plans for a seven-foot bronze which will be sited at the historic spot.

And they are hoping her worldwide army of admirers will help fund this new chapter of her history – and give her the recognition they feels she so richly deserves. Margaret Lumsdaine, president of the society, said their project has an artist in place and backing from Historic Scotland.

She said: “As far as we are aware there is no official statue of the queen in Scotland which is at all times accessible to the public. We believe that one at ­Linlithgow Palace would rightly honour one of our most famous historic figures and attract those following the trail of the queen, thereby making a wonderful contribution to the promotion of the history of Scotland.”

Elsewhere, the 16th century monarch’s reign is marked in London, with a stone statue that stands above a house on Fleet Street, and another in the back porch of Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire.

But Helen MacDonald, who is involved in the ongoing research project Mapping Memorials to Women in ­Scotland, said there were very few statues celebrating individual women in Edinburgh or elsewhere. She said: “We only have something like 20 statues to women or women’s organisations in Scotland compared to the hundreds for men. When you look at Edinburgh, for example, there are dozens of statues of men, compared to two of women. The ratio is quite extreme.”

Historic Scotland will install the statue, which will be ­situated in Linlithgow Peel near the Palace and take responsibility for it once it is in place. The statue has already been designed by the late Aberdonian sculptor Anne Davidson, and will be scaled-up and cast by David Annand, a well-known Scottish sculptor.

A recent major exhibition on Mary’s life attracted nearly 80,000 visitors at the National Museum of Scotland. Curator David Forsyth said its popularity rested with her ability still to divide opinion long after her death. “She was a woman who even now elicits both abhorrence and love in equal measure,” he said.

kate.pickles@edinburghnews.com