Forever Edinburgh: Capital's historic statues are stars of new walking tour

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A new series of walking tours focusing on the stories behind some of the many statues in Edinburgh’s city centre is being staged by members of the Scottish Tourist Guides Association.

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Edinburgh has more than 60 statues of people who have played a part in the history of the city, country, UK and even internationally.

Tall Tales is the latest in a series of walking tours organised by the Edinburgh branch of the STGA and £1 from every ticket sold will be given towards Edinburgh World Heritage, an independent charity which aims to ensure the city’s World Heritage status benefits everyone.

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Historic statues are the stars of the Tall Tales tourHistoric statues are the stars of the Tall Tales tour
Historic statues are the stars of the Tall Tales tour

Blue Badge Guide, Mary Birch, who came up with the idea of the tour, said: “Public monuments are part of public art – they are there for all to see, to gaze at, to reflect over and we will be helping guests learn more about them. Above all we will provide a balanced portrayal of the people portrayed.

“Each of these often tall – often larger than life - statues tells an amazing tale.

“There are a huge range of personalities represented by statues ranging from the heroic James Braidwood, founder of the Edinburgh fire brigade to intellectual geniuses like David Hume and Adam Smith.

“We will also be looking at the controversial Melville Monument which hit the headlines because of its links with the slave trade.

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“Statues represent what people in the past – and present – have chosen to celebrate and memorialise but our changing attitudes to them show how history is not static.

“Over the past couple of years the topic of statues has become a controversial one particularly when the person portrayed has a connection with slavery - and Edinburgh is no exception.”

Last summer the STGA ran a successful series of walking tours in the New Town called West End Stories. Previous tours run by the branch include Georgian Shadows in 2017 and 101 Objects in 2018.

Alistair Hector, chair of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland STGA, said: “As Edinburgh emerges from the worst of the pandemic, the local STGA guides are keen to do our bit in the recovery of the city.

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“We hope that local people as well as visitors will be interested in going on this new walking tour. No doubt many locals have walked past these statues regularly but haven’t really known much about them.

“Tall Tales is our fourth such walking tours initiative and the second designed with Covid safety in mind. We will be following safety protocols created by the Government in association with the STGA.”

The walking tours, which cost £12.45 per person, will start in front of St Giles Cathedral and last 90 minutes. However, all people taking part must book in advance. The tours run from June 24 to July 25.

To find out more about the West End Stories tours go to the Eventbrite page.

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The Evening News is supporting Forever Edinburgh, a joint campaign between the City of Edinburgh Council, Edinburgh Tourism Action Group (ETAG) and VisitScotland. This encourages people to rediscover the city, its stories and places while supporting local businesses, promoting attractions, shops, bars and restaurants as lockdown eases.

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