Folly or no’?

While browsing this excellent site on Edinburgh’s architecture (it beats going out and freezing your arse off), I was surprised to read about the National Monument on Calton Hill – “Edinburgh’s Folly”. A half-complete replica of the Parthenon in Athens, I’d always believed that the reason for its semi-existence was a lack of funds that had halted building. However, the text beneath the photos affirms that the monument was deliberately designed so (a Scotsman story agrees) as a Romantic ruin. The funds story is nothing more than an urban legend (perhaps one of the very first?). Alas, Google is not my friend on this occasion and I cannot find out the curious truth – is this story true, or is it just handy revisionist history?

6 thoughts on “Folly or no’?

  1. I was brought up to believe that it was a lack of funds – to find out differently at this stage of my life would cause trauma. See also here

    However, the point is, it has 12 columns. Large, jolly columns. In fact, looking around Edinburgh, it seems quite strong on columns generally (see also the strong column presence on Princes St East/Waterloo Place, beneath it). Stop me if I’ve mentioned this before, but other British cities seem woefully low on columns, although quite strong on less worthwhile things (I could specify, it would be wrong to do so). Well, take London – I wonder how many columns per head of population? Quite. But! A Royal National Theatre made entirely from eggboxes and concrete. Exemplary. No wonder there’s gun crime.

    If you look at the old Royal High (the Nats’ choice for the Parliament) you can’t help but be struck by the columns. A very good reason for putting a parliament in there, I would say.

    Freezing your arse off, indeed. Better than being slowly broiled in this polluted cesspit of a city.

  2. A can of worms… (an image, not the literal truth). Too late at night to consider this question. To have something solid to base my superiority complex on?

  3. Infinitely odder: the Yanks have reconstructed the Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee, just by making random guesses as to what it might’ve looked like. Less authentic than Dolly Parton’s tits. But funnier.

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