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22 Jul 2019

Burns Monument reopens after restoration

Three people stand beside an interpretation board in front of Burns Monument.
Caroline Smith (Operations Manager, Robert Burns Birthplace Museum), Hugh Farrell (Chairman of Friends of Robert Burns Birthplace Museum) and Simon Skinner (CEO of the National Trust for Scotland)
At number 67 on our 100 Ways list we’ve completed a major programme of repair and restoration at Burns Monument in Alloway.

Burns Monument in Alloway was rededicated with a ceremony on Sunday 21 July, on the anniversary of the poet’s death, marking the completion of a major programme of restoration and repair.

The monument reopened to the public on Monday 22 July. The 223rd anniversary of Burns’s death was marked with a procession from Burns Cottage to the newly restored monument, which was first unveiled in 1823.

Designed by Edinburgh architect Thomas Hamilton Junior, the 21m–high Grecian-style temple was commissioned by the Burns Monument Trust, a group of individuals in Alloway who wanted to build a suitable memorial to the life and works of Robert Burns in his birthplace village.

Looking up at Burns Monument from the gardens against a blue sky with clouds
Burns Monument

Burns lovers around the world contributed to the fund to build the original monument. This international recognition for Burns and his work has been mirrored today, with the restoration project supported by many individual donors and organisations in Scotland and beyond, including the National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA.

Work over the last year on the monument has included stone restoration, leadwork, drainage repairs, a new cupola and general decoration work. Expert conservators spent 14,000 hours working on the restoration.

Particular attention was given to the mortar joints, where historically accurate grouting was used to make the structure watertight and protect it for generations to come. Approximately 9,000 litres of the grout went in to filling the voids in the monument, involving a specialist mortar consultant who worked with the Trust’s own stonemasonry team at nearby Culzean using bespoke equipment developed for the project.

Specialist monitoring equipment has also been installed, with humidity and temperature sensors to assess air quality and building performance. These will allow us to monitor the moisture within the building over the next few years.

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“Like the original monument, support for this project has come from around the world and has been vital in enabling us to protect this important part of Scotland’s heritage.”
Caroline Smith
Operations Manager at Robert Burns Birthplace Museum

Caroline added: ‘It was only 20 or so years after Burns’s death that the Burns Monument Trust came together in Alloway to pay tribute to his genius with this impressive monument in the place of his birth. It’s incredible, more than 200 years later, to see this wonderful structure restored and looking at its best once again.’

The monument is part of Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway, which also includes the cottage where the bard was born, Alloway Auld Kirk where Tam o’ Shanter had an eventful Halloween, and a purpose-built museum that’s home to the world’s foremost Burns collection. Robert Burns Birthplace Museum is a cultural hub in Ayrshire, bringing the best in art, music and literature to the public. Generously supported by the Scottish Government and the Heritage Lottery Fund, it commemorates the life and works of Robert Burns.

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