"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years." - Abraham Lincoln

Posted on January 18, 2016 by Sioux under General


Once I had explored as much of the castle as I could, I headed across town to Calton Hill, where the Old City Observatory stands, along with the Nelson Monument and the National Monument.


The Observatory was designed in 1818 and the first

Astronomer Royal to work in this building was

Professor Thomas Henderson, appointed 1834, who

had discovered how to measure parallax and the

distance to a star while in his previous job in

South Africa.

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The foundation stone for the monument was laid in 1807 though the building was not completed until 1815. The architect was Robert Burn. The monument stands 171m above sea level. Unfortunately it was closed so I couldn’t walk up to the top.


A time ball (a now obsolete time measuring device, made of wood and zinc encased) was added to the monument in 1852 to help sailors who had to know the exact time when working out longitude. Ships’ captains could set their chronometers accurately from the deck of their ships on the river when the ball was dropped at one o’clock. However on foggy days they couldn’t see the signal, so in 1861 the firing of the one o’ clock gun was introduced at the castle. The time ball is still dropped every day at 1pm but is now more for historical & tourist value than setting of ships clocks.

This is a well-traveled cannon. The Royal Arms of Spain is in cast relief on top of the barrel. The cannon was transported to the Portuguese colonies in southeast Asia sometime before 1785. There is an inscription alongside the coat of arms, written later, and is thought to be Burmese, as the cannon was once kept by a Burmese King. It was captured by the British during the invasion of Burma in 1885 and presented to Edinburgh in 1886.

On the adjacent hilltop is the Scottish National Musuem, in honour of Scots killed during the Napoleonic wars.


Designed during 1823-6 by Charles Robert Cockerell and William Henry Playfair, it is modeled on the Parthenon in Athens.


Construction started in 1826 and, due to the lack of funds, was left unfinished in 1829, giving rise to various nicknames such as “Scotland’s Disgrace”, “Edinburgh’s Disgrace”, “the Pride and Poverty of Scotland” and “Edinburgh’s Folly”.

Looking like a tall stone upside-down telescope,

the Nelson Monument, built in honour of Admiral Lord Nelson. Edinburgh citizens met to plan the building of a monument just a month after the battle of Trafalgar in 1805, before Nelson’s body had even got back to Britain.

Looking back across the city from atop the hill certainly was a good view.


Time waits for no one, as do trains that leave on time, so I headed back to the station and headed home.

Once back in Newcastle, on the way to the apartment, I couldn’t resist stopping at the ‘new castle’ and the Gateshead Quayside, for late night photos.


All in all, an interesting day out.


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4 responses to “Scotland the brave and the interesting!”

  1. paul says:

    Some very interesting facts in this post.. To have remembered all the times and dates and info. Well done.

  2. Pauline Smith says:

    And you did all of that in one day – you must of been exhausted…

  3. Chez says:

    Awesome info thanks S you must have done shorthand in your previous life :o)

  4. Cindy Eve says:

    Lovely photos of Edinburgh. It’s a fascinating city

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