Dr Livingstone, I presume?

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Praskipark on October 9, 2012

Before I move on to writing about a different sort of attraction that I saw in Edinburgh in June, I just want to mention the monument dedicated to David Livingstone. You can find this noble statue in Princes Street Gardens, close to the Waverley Bridge entrance.

Mr Livingstone was quite a character and led a very interesting life. You could say that he was one of the world's greatest explorers having travelled to South Africa as a missionary in the 1840s, visiting Victoria Falls and Lake Ngami. Later on in his life he returned to Africa and was awarded a Gold Medal of the Gegraphical Society for his discoveries of lakes and rivers in Africa. These are remarkable achievements for a young lad from Blantyre, Lanarkshire. He spent his younger days working in a cotton mill until he found his vocation as a Christian. After being ordained a s a missionary he travelled to some far and obscure villages in deepest Africa sometimes on foot, sometimes on horseback and sometimes on the back of an ox. Having spent the first twenty years of his life in poverty in Scotland he was well equipped to deal with anything Africa threw at him.

Amelia Paton Hill, sister of Noel and Hugh Paton has created a busy sculpture of Livingstone. The figure cast in brass is strong and determined, his eyes are looking over yonder and if you look closely there are articles strapped to his belt that tell us what his occupation is. The compass neatly stored in a case is attached to his waist, this is something he must have used a hundred times on his perilous journeys through the African jungle and next to the compass is a pistol stored in the neatest of leather cases. His trousers are loose fitting with a matching jacket which fits close to his upper body. To keep the rain and chills from his body a cloak folds around the top half of his body, over his shoulders and on to his back. The folds of material have been crafted superbly. Notice, he has a walking stick at his side and a large rucksack at the back of him. One arm is slightly outstretched and in the palm of his hand is a bible. I love the way Amelia has intricately sculptured his eyebrows to make them look thick and bushy. I also like the shape of his moustache and the way his hair falls neatly on his head. She has given him a face that shows courage, determination and inquisitiveness. I think Amelia Paton Hill was a very talented sculptor and in some ways ahead of her time. In the 19th century Edinburgh, male sculptors dominated so she did well to have her work accepted and exhibited in such a prominent situation.

If I have any grumbles about the monument it is to do with the stone plinth rather than the monument itself. The plinth could have been made a bit smaller. If you look at the monument from a distance the plinth does tend to dominate. Still, it is only a minor grumble and overall the monument and its location are superb.
Princes Street Gardens
Princes Street
Edinburgh, Scotland, EH2 2YJ


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