25 August 2015
An Eccentric Vision
“Along this path a dramatic statue of William Wallace gazes out across the Tweed. This is just one of a number of features in the area built by David Stuart Erskine [1742-1829], the 11th Earl of Buchan: if you continue down the hill you can find another, the enchanting Temple of the Muses. The path to the statue is about one third of a mile, (ten to fifteen minutes’ walk) with a good surface all the way.
“The Earl was a vain, eccentric man, but he was passionate about conserving and recording anything to do with Scotland and its heroes. He was fascinated by Greek mythology too, and once held a party in his drawing room where he dressed up as the god Apollo on Mount Parnassus, with nine maidens to play the part of the Muses in attendance.
“He commissioned local sculptor John Smith of Darnick to carve the statue, which was unveiled in 1814 on 22 September: the anniversary of Wallace’s great victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297. It seems to be the earliest monument to Wallace, that near-legendary symbol of Scottish patriotism.”
“Sir Walter Scott knew the Earl well. He described him as a man whose ‘immense vanity obscured, or rather eclipsed, very considerable talents‘. As well as building monuments like the Wallace statue and the Temple of the Muses, he founded the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. The Society’s collections formed the basis of the National Museums of Scotland.”
— Information panel