In Scotland I live within sight of a monument called the Prop of Ythsie (pronounced ‘Icy’, with perhaps a hint of ‘th’ between the ‘I’ and ‘c’). It is part of the Haddo Estate, owned by Lord Aberdeen, and the Estate’s website describes it as follows:

‘It was built by the tenantry of Haddo in memory of the 4th Earl of Aberdeen, paying tribute to the extensive improvement works he carried out on the Estate for the local residents.’

The 4th Earl was a very significant historical figure; he was the British Prime Minister between 1852 and 1855, presiding over a cabinet with some extraordinary personalities. It included the later Prime Minister William Gladstone, who regarded Lord Aberdeen as a mentor and close friend.

Having long been interested in Victorian British politics (and literature), it rather tickles me that I can see the monument from my house. You can see it below, in a photo I took a week or so ago. It is already on a hill, but if you climb to the top of the monument (which you can) you get the most spectacular views of Aberdeenshire, including some of the Cairngorms.


For those who might be interested, the place where I live (Ythsie) is just outside the beautifully designed (and preserved) village of Tarves (or Tarbhais, its original Gaelic name). Also in the neighbourhood are the remains of Tolquhon Castle, and the South Ythsie stone circle. It is an area full of history, and of some great beauty.

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4 Comments on “Monument”

  1. V.H Says:

    It would make for a very beautiful chess set if the slim design was continued to the rest of the set. In table proportion of course. Mind you how brilliant would it be to see a chess set all that size. Be something to see.

  2. Anna Notaro Says:

    If I could see such monument from my house I would probably be tickled as well, no only for the thrill of the proximity to such an impressive historic landmark though, but for the functions that it performs as a ‘mnemonic device’ (a term coined by French scholar Pierre Nora in the Realms of Memory, 1984). I would start looking deeper into the official version of its erection due to the gratitude of the tenantry, which presents it as a site of perfect blend between vernacular and official memory. Landmarks such as these are fascinating in so far as they prompt us to ask some questions. Who guides the process of remembering and towards what ends? Why do specific commemorative projects take particular forms? How do commemorative practices actually shape social relations and cultural beliefs (rather than simply reflecting them)? In the Scottish context such questions are, to my mind, particularly intriguing.

    In 1800 a North Carolina Congressman declared that “Monuments are good for nothing” , it was argued at the time that democracy and the spread of literacy had made commemorative rituals and monuments obsolete, a leftover from the days of monarchy and superstition. Something to ponder I suppose while enjoying the view from the hill.

    Impressive photo.

    • V.H Says:

      On that vein I believe U Glasgow did a survey sometime in the 70s. There is a stone circle a few fields south but tilted towards the east. And if you view the OS map on Bingmaps you’ll note that the hill of Ythsie is independent but for the sub hill which has the stone circle. There are other crop marks in the vicinity of the tower and at least one mound. And if the field names are anything to go by, there is at least one church remains up there too.
      What’s a bit odd is the absence of a formal sight-line from the house. In fact it would seem the pillar was put on the other side of a large wood and could never be seen from the ground floor of the main house.

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