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Edinburgh, Leith, Bernard Street, Robert Burns Statue

Statue (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Edinburgh, Leith, Bernard Street, Robert Burns Statue

Classification Statue (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Burns' Monument; Constitution Street

Canmore ID 149143

Site Number NT27NE 409

NGR NT 27283 76435

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/149143

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2018.

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Edinburgh, City Of
  • Parish Edinburgh (Edinburgh, City Of)
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District City Of Edinburgh
  • Former County Midlothian

Activities

Project (1997)

The Public Monuments and Sculpture Association (http://www.pmsa.org.uk/) set up a National Recording Project in 1997 with the aim of making a survey of public monuments and sculpture in Britain ranging from medieval monuments to the most contemporary works. Information from the Edinburgh project was added to the RCAHMS database in October 2010 and again in 2012.

The PMSA (Public Monuments and Sculpture Association) Edinburgh Sculpture Project has been supported by Eastern Photocolour, Edinburgh College of Art, the Edinburgh World Heritage Trust, Historic Scotland, the Hope Scott Trust, The Old Edinburgh Club, the Pilgrim Trust, the RCAHMS, and the Scottish Archive Network.

Field Visit (28 May 2001)

Bronze statue of Robert Burns standing, with his weight on his right leg, his left arm by his side, and his right arm across his chest to hold his plaid draped over his left shoulder. His left knee is bent and his left foot extends over the edge of the plinth. The statue is on a red sandstone pedestal which is placed on a pink granite base. On each side of the pedestal is a bronze panel depicting one of Burns' poems. On the front is 'The Cottar's Saturday Night' (placed on the pedestal in 1898), on the left side is 'Hallowe'en' (placed on the pedestal in 1901), on the back is 'Death and Dr Hornbrook' (placed on the pedestal in 1898), and on the right side is 'The Smiddy' (placed on the pedestal in 1901).

On 28 February 1894 the Honorary Secretary of the Leith Burns Club wrote to the Town Council of Leith, applying for a site for a statue of Burns which was to be ready for unveiling in July 1896. The Magistrates and Council decided to delay consideration of the letter (1).

In December 1897 the Honorary Secretary of the Leith Burns Club again wrote to the Town Council of Leith, stating that the Club had commissioned David Watson Stevenson to execute a bronze statue of Burns, to be erected in July 1898; and asking for a site at the foot of Leith Walk (2). This site was granted in January 1898.

In May 1898 The Builder reported that Stevenson had just modelled the statue in clay (3).

In June 1898, after examining the plan by the Burgh Surveyor, the Town Council of Leith recommended a site at the junction of Bernard Street and Constitution Street (4).

The statue was finally unveiled on 15 October 1898 by R. C. Munro-Ferguson. On the front of the pedestal was a bronze panel depicting a scene from 'The Cottar's Saturday Night', funded by the Leith Burns Club. On the back of the pedestal was a bronze panel depicting 'Death and Dr Hornbrook', funded by ex-Councillor Robert Meikle (5).

In 1901 two bronze panels depicting 'Hallowe'en', (funded by William Tulloch) and 'The Smiddy', (funded by the Leith Burns Club) were added to the pedestal. These were unveiled on Thursday 7 March 1901 by T. Macpherson, president of the Leith Burns Club (6).

In 1961 the statue was moved 18 feet to the west to ease the flow of traffic at the junction. In 2004 the statue was moved again, this time just over a yard, to take centre stage in a new pedestrianised area.

Inscriptions : On front of sandstone pedestal (incised letters): BURNS / 1759 - 1796

On front of base of sandstone pedestal (incised letters): ERECTED UNDER THE AUSPICES / OF LEITH BURNS CLUB 1898

On bronze panels, clockwise from front (raised letters):

(1): "THE PRIEST-LIKE FATHER READS THE SACRED PAGE - / FROM SCENES LIKE THESE OLD SCOTIA'S GRANDEUR SPRINGS, / THAT MAKES HER LOVED AT HOME, REVERED ABROAD:"

(2) "IN ORDER, ON THE CLEAN HEARTH-STANE / THE LUGGIES THREE ARE RANGED:" / HALLOW'EEN / PRESENTED BY WILLIAM TULLOCH

(3) "I THERE WI SOMETHING DID FORGATHER, / THAT PAT ME IN AN EERIE SWITHER:" / PRESENTED BY ROBERT MEIKLE

(4) "WHEN VULCAN GIES HIS BELLOWS BREATH / AN PLOWMEN GATHER WI' THEIR GRAITH"

Signatures : On edge of bronze plinth, behind figure's right leg (incised letters):

D. W. Stevenson / R.S.A. - Sc. 1898

On bronze panels on sides of pedestal [blindfold game and smiddy scene]:

D. W. Stevenson R.S.A. Sc

Design period : 1897-1901

Year of unveiling : 1898

Unveiling details : Statue unveiled on 15 October 1898; extra panels unveiled on 7 March 1901

Information from Public Monuments and Sculpture Association (PMSA Work Ref : EDIN0417)

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