The Canongate Wall On The Scottish Parliament Building in Edinburgh

The Scottish Parliament Building in Edinburgh might seem a bit boring and drab from a distance, but it is worth having a closer look…

On the side of the building located along the Royal Mile is the Canongate wall featuring quotations and proverbs by Scottish icons such as Robert Burns. The words adorn plaques made from materials sourced from different areas of Scotland.

This includes Torridonian Sandstone from Ullapool in the Highlands, Whinstone from Caldercruix in West Lothian, Ardkinglas from Cairndow in Argyll, Glen Tilt Marble from Blair Atholl in Perthshire, Giffnock Sandstone from Glasgow, marble from Iona in Argyll, Kemnay Granite from Aberdeenshire and Bressay Sandstone from the Shetland Islands.

This unique building opened in 2004 and cost an estimated £414 million – a massive cost considering the original budget was said to have been no more than £40 million.

It is located at the end of the Royal Mile, near the Queen’s official Scottish residence, Holyrood House.

Here are the quotes you can find on the Canongate Wall:

1.) Mary Brooksbank (1897 – 1978), Oh Dear Me (The Jute Mill Song)

Oh, dear me, the warld’s ill-divided,
Them that work the hardest are aye wi’ least provided,
But I maun bide contented, dark days or fine,
But there’s no much pleasure livin’ affen ten and nine.

2.) Norman MacCaig (1910 – 1996), A Man in Assynt

Who possesses this landscape? –
The man who bought it or
I who am possessed by it?

False questions, for
this landscape  is
masterless
and intractable in any terms
that are human.

3.) Psalm 19:14

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.

4.) Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928)

There is hope in honest error;
None in the icy perfections of the mere stylist.

5.) Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) Songs of Travel

Bright is the ring of words.

6.) Alasdair Gray (1934-)

Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation.

7.) Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) Mrs Howden in Heart of Midlothian

When we had a king, and a chancellor, and parliament-men o’ our ain, we could aye peeble them wi’ stanes when they werena gude bairns – But naebody’s nails can reach the length o’ Lunnon.

8.) George Macdonald (1824-1905) Song

Sweet ghosts in a loving band
Roam through the houses that stand –
For the builders are not gone.

9.) Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919)

Put all your eggs into one basket -and then watch that basket.

10.) Alan Jackson (1938-) The Young Politician Looks at the Moon

What a lovely, lovely moon.
And it’s in the constituency too.

11.) Anonymous Canadian Boat Song first appeared 1829

From the lone sheiling of the misty island
Mountains divide us, and the waste of seas –
Yet still the blood is strong, the heart is Highland,
And we in dreams behold the Hebrides.

12.) George Campbell Hay (1915-1984) The Four Winds of Scotland

Is i Alba nan Gall’s nan Gaidheal is gàire is blàth is beatha dhomh.
It is Scotland, Highland and Lowland that is laughter and warmth and life for me.

13.) Hugh MacDiarmid (1892-1978) The Little White Rose

The rose of all the world is not for me.
I want for my part
Only the little white rose of Scotland
That smells sharp and sweet – and breaks the heart.

14.) Robert Burns (1759-1796) To a Louse

O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us
An’ foolish notion.

15.) Hugh MacDiarmid (1892-1978)

But Edinburgh is a mad god’s dream
Fitful and dark,
Unseizable in Leith
And wildered by the Forth,
But irresistibly at last
Cleaving to sombre heights
Of passionate imagining
Till stonily,
From soaring battlements,
Earth eyes Eternity.

16.) Proverb

Abair ach beagan is abair gu math e.

Say but little and say it well.

17.) Hamish Henderson (1919-2002) The Freedom come all ye 

So, cam’ all ye at hame wi’ freedom
Never heed whit the hoodies croak for doom
In your hoose a’ the bairns o’ Adam
Can find breid, barley bree an’ painted room.

18.) Sir Alexander Gray (1882-1968) Scotland

This is my country,
The land that begat me.
These windy spaces
Are surely my own.
And those who toil here
In the sweat of their faces
Are flesh of my flesh,
And bone of my bone.

19.) Edwin Morgan (1920-)

tell us about last night

well, we had a wee ferintosh and we lay on the quiraing. it was pure strontian!

20.) John Muir (1838-1914)

The battle for conservation will go on endlessly. It is part of the universal battle between right and wrong.

21.) Robert Burns (1759-1796) A Man’s A Man for A’ That

Then let us pray that come it may
(As come it will for a’ that)
That Sense and Worth, o’er a’ the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an’ a’ that.
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
It’s coming yet for a’ that,
That Man to Man the world o’er,
Shall brithers be for a’ that.

22.) Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889) Inversnaid

What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.

23.) Proverb

Am fear as fheàrr a chuireas
‘S e as fheàrr a bhuineas.

He who sowest best reapest best.

24.) Proverb

To promise is ae thing, to keep it is anither.

25.) Andrew Fletcher (1655-1716)

(I knew a very wise man who believed that) if a man were permitted to make all the ballads, he need not care who should make the laws of a nation.

26.) Hugh MacDiarmid (1892-1978) Scotland Small?

Scotland small? Our multiform, our infinite Scotland small?

What do you think of the Scottish Parliament Building and the Canongate Wall?