Dalkeith Burns Memorial mystery is solved

Councillor Margot Russell (Lab) and Sheila Irving from Cousland Smiddy Trust, with the plaque of Robert Burns
Councillor Margot Russell (Lab) and Sheila Irving from Cousland Smiddy Trust, with the plaque of Robert Burns

A commemorative plaque of the Bard has been revealed as one of the missing plaques from the Dalkeith Burns Monument.

Members of the Cousland Smiddy Trust, along with local Councillors Margot Russell and Alex Bennett and selected others, recently gathered at the monument to find out if the historic plaque would fit.

The Cousland Smiddy plaque of Burns does appear to fit the oval of the Burns Monument cartouche. The Cousland Smiddy plaque is a plaster model, possibly taken from the original cast, and could provide an excellent mould for a new plaque.

Councillor Jim Bryant (SNP) said: “This is a really exciting find and I am extremely grateful to the Cousland Smiddy Trust for their interest in the Burns Monument. The monument was paid for by the residents of Dalkeith and is a key part of the heritage of our town.”

The Burns memorial fountain was made by George Smith’s Sun Foundry, Glasgow. It was commissioned in 1896 by the Dalkeith Burns Club to mark the centenary of the death of Burns and was paid for by public subscription. The structure has four columns with a domed canopy. Known locally as the “Burns Monument”, it was installed in 1899, becoming a focal point on Dalkeith High Street.

In the 1960s it was deemed a traffic hazard and moved to the gardener’s cottage in St John’s and King’s Park. In 2003, it was refurbished and relocated to a new position in Komorom Court. Since 2013, a Facebook campaign has been promoting the potential restoration and relocation of the monument to a more historic site within the town.

Over each arch of the dome there are cartouches which would have contained commemorative plaques with dedications or crests. Unfortunately all four plaques on the monument were lost.

It has been suggested that the plaques included the Dalkeith Coat of Arms, a Masonic crest and a portrait of Robert Burns. Plans to restore the monument are currently being considered and the replacement of the missing plaques would bring new meaning to the title of Burns Monument.