MHG9364 - Beinn a' Bhragaidh, Duke of Sutherland's Monument


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Type and Period (1)

  • COMMEMORATIVE MONUMENT (Post Medieval - 1560 AD to 1900 AD)

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Full Description

See architecture.

Research on this monument was undertaken by Michael Simpson as part of a Community Timeline course, run by ARCH.
A huge statue, a little over 9 metres high, on a plinth which brought the overall height to about 33 metres. It is important because of the history of the County, the almost incredible feat of civil engineering involved in its construction, and that it is visible from a wide area of land and sea. The Duke died in 1833, and a proposal was made to erect a memorial statue: the subscriptions started in 1834. The model, slightly larger than life size, was by Sir Francis Legatt Chantrey,R.A.(1781-1841). It is now in Dunrobin Castle, having spent many years in Dornoch Cathedral, where the Duke was buried. On Chantrey's advice, the plinth was designed by William Burn, Architect (1789-1870).
Joseph Theakston (1773-1870) who had collaborated with Chantrey before, and had been recommended to the second Duke by James loch (the estate Factor), was given the work of making the large copy of Chantrey's model. In a letter written in February 1837,Loch observed that it had taken nearly eighteen months to carve the thirty foot figure. It had been agreed that it was to be made of "white Brora stone" from Clynelish, but exactly where the work was done has not been possible to establish to date. Much Clynelish stone was used in the major extensions to Dunrobin Castle around 1830-40, and much of the detail was complex: but the stonework was cut and carved in the open, a short distance from the Castle, with a tarpaulin awning in bad weather. A large number of masons worked there. On the other hand, it would seem easier to transport the stone to where Theakston had his works (London?) where there was a large sheltered area, skilled men, and the necessary measuring and copying equipment. Loch also mentions new roads to to cope with the transport of the stone, and that "an intire (sic) new waggon ", to carry the blocks of stone,
had been built. Loch made the point that the figure would cost more than he had intended, and that" the contractor for the building of the pedestal is likely to lose much by his contract". He mentioned" the question of paying for the Sutherland Monument to be raised by the tenantry."
A road for construction traffic was built from West orummie, round the face of Ben Bhraggie, and curving round the shoulder to the summit. It is known as the Queen's Drive, because Queen Victoria was driven up in a carriage about thirty years later, when she was staying at carries Windfarm traffic nowadays. The quarry which provided the sandstone for the plinth (known as Glen Stone) can be seen near the Monument; the cutting and shaping of the stone was done by masons who lived in the group of wooden huts on the site. This little community gradually disappeared as the work came to a conclusion. The Inscription reads:

First Duke of Sutherland
B. 1758 D.1833
of loved revered and cherished memory
erected by his tenantry and friends. <1>

AP - Duke of Sutherland's Statue on top of Ben Bhraggie, Golspie. (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG18403.

AP - Duke of Sutherland's Statue on top of Ben Bhraggie, Golspie. (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG18404.

Untitled Source (Image/Photograph(s)/Aerial Photograph). SHG3949.

Untitled Source (Image/Photograph(s)/Aerial Photograph). SHG3950.

Beinn A Bhragaidh, monument to First Duke of Sutherland, 1994, Campaign steps up for duke's clearance [Beinn A Bhragaidh, monument to First Duke of Sutherland, newscutting] (Text/Publication/Article/Newspaper Article). SHG3060.

Macdonald, A, 1994, Highlanders fight to bring down duke at last [Beinn A Bhragaidh, Monument to First Duke of Sutherland, newscutting] (Text/Publication/Article/Newspaper Article). SHG3093.

Gillan, A, 1994, Plan to clear away 100ft monument to duke [Beinn A Bhragaidh, Monument to First Duke of Sutherland, newscutting] (Text/Publication/Article/Newspaper Article). SHG3064.

Fraser, D, 1994, Statuesque duke unmoved by notice to clear off [Beinn A Bhragaidh, Monument to First Duke of Sutherland, newscutting] (Text/Publication/Article/Newspaper Article). SHG3090.

Ross, J, 1996, Move to widen debate on future of statue [Beinn A Bhragaidh, Monument to First Duke of Sutherland [newscutting] (Text/Publication/Article/Newspaper Article). SHG3101.

<1> M Simpson, 2010, Research on The Statue of the first Duke of Sutherland, Golspie (Text/Manuscript). SHG24872.

Sources/Archives (10)



Grid reference Centred NC 8144 0091 (4m by 4m) (Buffered by site type)
Map sheet NC80SW
Geographical Area SUTHERLAND
Civil Parish GOLSPIE

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