IT has been a fixture of Edinburgh’s landscape since the middle of the 19th century.
Now the Capital’s famous Victorian Gothic monument – erected in honour of the 19th century writer Sir Walter Scott – is to get a “glow in the dark” makeover.
The Scott Monument, in Princes Street Gardens, has been closed down for a month to install a state-of-the-art lighting system which will highlight its intricate architectural features like never before.
The £70,000 project, which will see the monument lit a subtle colour of silver and gold, is aimed at helping to raise awareness of Edinburgh’s status as a Unesco World City of Literature, which it was honoured with 12 years ago.
Although the monument has been floodlit in recent years, the project is the first time a bespoke lighting design has been commissioned and installed in its 170-year history.
A contest to build the monument – still the tallest erected in honour of a writer anywhere in the world – was instigated in the city of Sir Walter’s birth after his death in 1832. It was designed by George Meikle Kemp, who drew inspiration from both Melrose Abbey and Rosslyn Chapel. The statue of Scott at its base was by sculptor Sir John Steell.
Richard Lewis, culture leader at the council, said: “The Scott Monument is an iconic and imposing memorial in the heart of Edinburgh.
“The new lighting is being designed to provide a glow in keeping with the 175-year-old monument. As the world’s first Unesco City of Literature we’re proud to bring the monument out of the shadows and into the night skyline.”
Ali Bowden, director of the Edinburgh City of Literature Trust, said: “We’re delighted that the Scott Monument will be lit up for all to see this summer and ahead of the festival season, a strong literary landmark of our city of literature. It’s fantastic to see such an important writer recognised for his continued contribution to our literary city.”
Adam Wilkinson, director of Edinburgh World Heritage, said: “We have been pleased to support this project, from feasibility through to design. Light is so important in how we perceive our city – it creates the shadows that give sculpture movement and depth.”
Marion Williams, director of the Cockburn Association, said: “I’m delighted that we won’t have garish colours competing with the architecture but a soft warm light that reveals this amazing monument splendidly after dark.”