Dawn over Calton Hill - Skywatch Friday

A pink and blue winter's dawn. 8.30 a.m. Snatched through a high-up window that barely opened enough to let me poke the camera lens through, the view is towards Edinburgh's Calton Hill. To the right is the Firth of Forth widening out to the North Sea. On the horizon, a billowing snow cloud makes its way to the west coast of Norway.

The monuments on Calton Hill relate to Edinburgh's title as the 'Athens of the North'. One of them, the Acropolis-like building is the National Monument, an unfinished tribute to the dead of the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815). One story about its unfinished state is that the city's money ran out half way through construction. The city of Glasgow offered to pay, but Edinburgh was too proud to accept.

The tower is Nelson's Monument. It commemorates Nelson's victory over the French and Spanish fleets at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 (apologies to my French readers in particular for our jingoistic past). Nowadays thankfully the nationalistic origins of the monument are less important than its historical role for ships navigating the waters of the Firth of Forth. On top of the tower is a mast, which acted as a time-keeper by which ships set their chronometers. A time ball was (and is still) dropped from the top of the mast at exactly 1pm on weekdays, at the moment the 1 o'clock gun is fired from Edinburgh Castle. When I checked the Wikipedia entry for these facts (because of course one always forgets things about one's own city), it mentioned that Edinburgh 'has long been a place where if a gun goes off, people check their watches'. Which is true - stand in Princes Street when the gun (really a cannon) is fired at 1 o'clock, and distinguish the alarmed visitors from the locals checking their watches.

Other Skywatch posts are on the Skywatch Friday site. With a full moon in this part of the world there should be some beautiful shots this week.


  1. So pretty and thanks for the background information. Very interesting.

  2. Snatched through a gap in the window is a beautiful pastel landscape. Very interesting informative text too.

  3. I love your photo and the commentary. You live in a beautiful part of the world!

  4. Beautiful evening dusk and that´s a great view over the city.

  5. Ah, but now I'll know how to blend in when I visit.

  6. no problem !
    We (in France) also have our jingoistic past ;)

  7. Such a gorgeous and wintery sky...and huge. Well done for managing this wonderful image through a small gap. Also lovely to see the different roof tops and the Nelson tower in the distance and to learn the history behind it as well as behind the unfinished monument. A real insight to the famous Scottish pride :)
    Looking at the clouds it seems to have been a windy day.


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