The Scott Monument, which stands at just over 200 feet tall, was commissioned by Parliament in the wake of the death of Scottish Romantic writer, Sir Walter Scott. Completed in 1844, the monument stands in proud memory of the writer, who more than any other, defined modern Scottish culture - indeed, the nearby Waverley station is named after one of his novels (and is the only literary railway station in the world, in fact).
Scott's Waverley novels are often termed the first examples of historical fiction - the rather misty-eyed, romanticised view of Scottish highland culture and life, added to the nostalgia about the comfortable certainties of High Toryism which is apparent in the texts, were not only seminal in refining Romantic fiction, but were typical of the wave of nationalistic literature across Europe in the Romantic period.
Scott's work is indicative of the way Scotland's culture has shaped, and has been shaped by, intellectual forces on the continent. The Romantic movement, though present in virtually all European countries, had a particularly acute impact in religiously divided 19th Century Scotland, in which it almost single-handedly rehabilitated the palatability of the Highlands in Britain (ostracised and purged following the Jacobite Uprising of 1745), and invented for Scotland a national story, which endures today.
Scott was a towering figure in the Romantic period, and ensured that a distinct Scottish identity was one easily accessible to writers on the continent - he himself gained fame across Europe. Indeed, the Romantic movement had a lasting relationship with Scotland, where the effect on our architecture (mock-gothic galore!) and folklore is still prevalent.
If you're anxious to learn more about the way Romanticism was used to diffuse Scotland's religious tension, and transform our culture, why not buy a copy of 'Waverley' at a bookshop on Princes Street?