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Melville Monument
St Andrew Square, Edinburgh
Melville Monument
associated engineer
Robert Stevenson
date  1821
era  Georgian  |  category  Monument, historical  |  reference  NT255741
ICE reference number  HEW 130
photo  Annemarie Dahl
Modelled on Trajan's Column in Rome (but without the carvings), Edinburgh's monument to Henry Dundas, First Viscount Melville, stands 41m high, surmounted by a statue. The foundations of the column and its dimensions were finalised by Robert Stevenson, who also supervised its erection.
Melville (1742 - 1811) was a Scottish lawyer and politician. At various times he held office as Solicitor General for Scotland, Secretary of State for the Home Department, War Secretary and First Lord of the Admiralty. In 1806 he was impeached for misappropriation of public funds in fact he was last person to be impeached in Britain but was acquitted.
The column was designed by the architect William Burn (1789 - 1870) and constructed in Cullalo stone. Residents of the St Andrew Square, where it is sited, expressed concern about the foundations being strong enough to support a column of such height and Stevenson was brought in to confirm the dimensions and foundation details.
The monument takes the form of a Doric column sitting on a pediment, which makes it Classically-influenced rather than purist, as Greek Doric columns had no bases to them. The fluted column weighs about 1500 tons. An iron balance crane of the type used by Stevenson to construct the Bell Rock Lighthouse was used for its erection.
The statue of Melville was added in 1828, adding 8m to the monument's overall height. It was made by Francis Chantrey and Robert Forrest, and is placed in such a way that it faces away from Holyrood Palace, apparently in response to Melville's having been offended by the King. The statue weighs 18 tons and is riveted together with gunmetal bolts.
The funds for construction were raised "by the voluntary contributions of the officers, petty officers, seamen and marines of these United Kingdoms".
Architect: William Burn
Research: PSt
reference sources   CEH SLB

Melville Monument