The Scott Monument, designed by the architect George Meikle Kemp (1795-1844), was erected on Edinburgh's Princes Street in honor of the great Scottish author Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832). His works, especially his thirty-two Waverley Novels, were immensely popular across Europe. A lot of his early writings were based on events in Scottish history; to a certain extent Scotland's national identity was shaped by his romantic stories.
Early in 1844 a series of social events known as the Waverley Balls began taking place. Featuring tableaux vivants that included scenes from Scott's poetry and fiction, the affairs were intended to raise money for the statuary on the monument. In this photograph Hill and Adamson (David Octavius Hill [1802-70] and Robert Adamson [1821-48]) capture the edifice with three boys and a man standing in front of it. Just visible on the horizon are some of the memorials.
William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-77) traveled to Scotland in October 1844 in order to make calotypes for his album Sun Pictures in Scotland (1845). One of the twenty-three plates showed the Scott Monument nearing completion. Hill and Adamson also made a photograph of the monument under construction. The finished structure, dedicated in 1846, has a two-hundred-foot spire that overlooks both the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh.
Adapted from Anne M. Lyden. Hill and Adamson, In Focus: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1999), 46. ©1999, J. Paul Getty Museum.
For more information about the places Hill and Adamson photographed see: Hill and Adamson: Place