‘Lost’ Burns plaque returned to monument

Friday January 29th 2016

Burns Plaque Dalkeith

A commemorative plaque of Robert Burns, owned by a local Trust, has been revealed as one of the missing plaques from the Dalkeith Burns Monument.

On a cold and windy afternoon earlier this month, members of the Cousland Smiddy Trust, along with local Councillors Margot Russell and Alex Bennett and selected others, gathered at the monument to find out if the historic plaque would fit.

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

Councillor Jim Bryant 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 Burns 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, in Candleriggs, Glasgow. It was commissioned in 1896 by the Dalkeith Burns Club to mark the centenary of the death of Robert 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 not in fact installed until 1899 and, for many years after, was one of the main focal points in 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, Buccleuch Street. Since 2013, a Facebook campaign has been promoting the potential restoration and relocation of the monument to a more historic site within the town.

Interestingly, over each arch of the dome there are cartouches which would have contained commemorative plaques with dedications or crests. Unfortunately at some point in its history all four plaques on the Burns 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.

Meanwhile, the Cousland Smiddy Trust noticed in their collection an oval commemorative plaque of Robert Burns and speculation grew as to whether this might, in fact, be one of the missing plaques from the Dalkeith Burns Monument. Thoughts turned to Cinderella and the glass slipper: would the Cousland Smiddy plaque of Robert Burns fit the Burns Monument Cartouche?

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