A monument to commemorate Scots who had died in the Napoleonic Wars (Image via Carlos Delgado)
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In 1822 a group of wealthy Edinburgh figures started fundraising for a monument to commemorate Scots who had died in the Napoleonic Wars. Their plan was copy the ancient temple precisely, with each stone being exactly the same dimensions as the original in Athens.
The lintels on top of the columns are the largest pieces of stone ever quarried in Scotland. They needed 12 horses and 70 men to carry them to the top of the hill.
Only half of the money needed was collected, and when worked stopped in 1829 only the twelve columns you see today were finished, which to some critics was a ‘national disgrace’.
Since then there have been many suggestions on how to complete the monument. In 1907 there was a plan to turn it into a National Gallery, and in 1908 it was suggested as a site for a Scottish Parliament. None of the ideas caught on and today the monument forms an important part of the Edinburgh skyline.
As part of our Twelve Monuments Project, Edinburgh World Heritage supported work to repoint the base and copings of the National Monument, as well as moving a displaced lintel back into its original position. This was done using a large crane capable of control down to the millimetre of these massive stones.