Burns Monument and Burns Memorial Gardens in Alloway

Written by Chris Thornton | 6th of December 2023
Burns Monument and Burns Memorial Gardens

Robert Burns, fondly known as Rabbie Burns, is not just a poet; he is the heartbeat of Scottish culture, encapsulating the nation's identity through his poetic verses. Born in the quaint village of Alloway, Burns' journey from a simple farmer to Scotland's national poet is a tale of talent, tenacity, and timeless appeal. Alloway, with its rolling hills and rustic charm, was his birthplace and the canvas on which he painted many of his poetic masterpieces.

The Burns Monument and Burns Memorial Gardens in Alloway stand as a testament to Scotland's undying reverence for its beloved bard, celebrating not just his works but also the landscape that inspired them.

I visited the Burns Monument in July 2023 with my wife and young family; read on to follow our adventures.

Who was Robert Burns?

Robert Burns, often called "Rabbie Burns," was born in 1759 in Alloway, Scotland. Renowned as Scotland's national poet, Burns penned verses that brilliantly captured his homeland's spirit, emotions, and daily life.

His works, including classics like "Auld Lang Syne" and "To a Mouse," are celebrated for their rich blend of wit, sentimentality, and keen social commentary. Burns's profound influence extends beyond literature, as his legacy has become integral to Scottish cultural identity.

He is celebrated annually on Burns Night (January 25th), an event marked by poetry readings, traditional Scottish fare, and a toast to the enduring legacy of the beloved bard.

Our visit to the Burns Monument

We had just visited the most excellent Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, just a short distance from the gardens. The receptionist at the museum told us about the monument and gardens, so we walked there; it only took about 5/10 minutes.

There were two entrances to the gardens, the one we used further to the north and there is a second to the south parallel with Brig O' Doon House Hotel and the historic Brig O' Doon bridge.

Entering the Burns Memorial Gardens

As we entered the gardens, we finally got to see the monument in all its grandeur; it certainly was impressive in its design, height and gold-topped pedestal.

Robert Burns Monument entrance.
The entrance to the monument and gardens from Brig O' Doon.
Robert Burns Gardens
Ascending the steps to the gardens.
The mighty memorial to Robert Burns. High Grecian style temple.
The Robert Burns Monument in its full glory.
Rabbie Burns Memorial information. Burns poetry garden.
A lovely information board regarding the monument.

The gardens were in full bloom during our July visit; everything felt lush and alive. We decided to have our picnic here on one of the benches; the setting was gorgeous, looking out towards the bridge and River Doon.

Burns Gardens.
The gardens are beautifully kept.
Burns Gardens and bridge.
The gardens and a little glimpse of the Brig O' Doon on the right.

Statue House

Before exploring the main monument, we visited the small Statue House, a small building with a repeating audiotrack. As the name suggests, the statue house contains three statues, two sandstone sculptures with the likeness of Souter Johnnie (from Tam 'o Shanter) and Nance Tinnock (Earnest Cry and Prayer).

Entrance to the Statue House.
Entrance to the Statue House.
Sandstone sculptures.
Souter Johnnie and Nance Tinnock characters from Burns's poetry.

The Monument

We entered the temple like monument. It resembles something from Greek mythology with its nine pillars, cupola and unusual three-sided base. The downstairs interior is quite simple, with just a single bust of Robert Burns in line with the entrance. The ceiling is glass, and we could see directly up to the upstairs section with the pillars.

No admission fee to Robert Burns Monument.
The monument is quite imposing. My youngest daughter was scared to enter.
Robert Burns bust. White marble statue.
The Bust of Robert Burns by Patric Park.
Glass ceiling
The glass ceiling of the monument.

The monument staircase winds up to the viewing area set amongst the nine pillars. The 360-degree views from the top are spectacular, taking in the surrounding landscape, and many of the fine buildings in Alloway can be seen, particularly the 500-year-old Brig O' Doon bridge used daily by Burns's Father, William.

Pillars representing muses. Cupola ceiling.
The large, intricately engraved cupola is held aloft by nine pillars.
Girls waving.
The ladies waved from the outside.
Girls waving.
The view from the monument.
Monument stairs.
The fairly tight stairway is short and not too claustrophobic. Sadly there is no disabled access for the upstairs area.
Going down monument stairs.
Another view of the monument stairs.

Strange symbols are all over the monument, likely linked to Burns's membership within the Freemasons.

Burns Monument engraving.
Fine engravings can be found all over the monument.
Cupola engravings.
Engravings on the cupola.

The structure is quite remarkable, and, amazingly, it was paid for via public subscription, which really shows how popular Robert Burns became.

Cupola view.
Another view of the cupola.

History of the Burns Monument

By his passing in 1796, Burns had left an indelible mark on the literary world. His poems, many of which captured the essence of Scottish life, pride, and identity, resonated deeply with readers both in Scotland and beyond its borders. Recognising the significance of his works, a rising clamour amongst Burns's most ardent supporters began among the public and prominent Scottish figures alike for a fitting memorial to commemorate the poet in his birthplace.

Moreover, the late 18th and early 19th centuries saw a wave of nationalistic pride sweeping through many parts of Europe, and Scotland was no exception. Erecting a monument in honour of Burns was about paying tribute to a literary icon and solidifying a shared cultural and national identity.

What emerged is an imposing 21m (70ft) Grecian-inspired temple, the brainchild of Sir Thomas Hamilton Junior. This architectural marvel boasts nine pillars, each symbolic of the muses from ancient Greek tales.

Financial support for this magnificent structure came from public subscriptions, leading to its grand unveiling in 1823, less than 20 years after Burns's death. While visitors can marvel at the monument and gardens without any entrance fees, dedicated efforts to maintain and preserve this grand memorial remain in action, with fundraising endeavours continuing even today.

A bust of Burns, sculpted by Patric Park, was added to the ground floor of the monument in 1845.

Adjacent to the monument within the gardens, visitors can find a quaint statue house. It houses intricate sandstone representations of Souter Johnnie and Nance Tinnock, masterfully carved by the self-made sculptor James Thom.

The choice of Alloway for the monument's location was symbolic. As the birthplace of the bard, it held immense sentimental value. Every stone and curve of the monument was intended to be a lasting testament to the man who, through his verses, immortalised the beauty, challenges, and spirit of Scottish life.

Brig O' Doon
Gardens and another view of Brig O' Doon.

Visitor Information:

The monument and gardens are free to visit, but donations are accepted.

This article describes the Burns Monument and Gardens in Alloway, not the Burns Monument Centre in Kay Park, Kilmarnock.

The monument is a short walk from both Robert Burns Birthplace Museum sections.

Google Maps location
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Memorial roses.
Red rose remembrance area was inspired by Burns's "A Red, Red Rose".

FAQs on the Burns Monument and Gardens

Here are a few frequently asked questions about the Burns Monument:

When was the Burns Monument built?

It was completed in 1823 and paid for by the public.

How many Burns memorials are there in Scotland?

There are about 20 official Burns memorials across Scotland, with the highest concentrations in the southwest and central belt.

There are over 60 memorials worldwide, some as far as Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Where is Burns Personal Museum?

The Museum is located in Alloway, his birthplace. This museum contains many original Burns manuscripts and personal items. A short distance away is the cottage he was born in, which can also be visited as part of your museum entry fee. You can read about our visit to the Burns Museum here.

Is the Burns Monument also a mausoleum?

I had this thought when I first saw it; it shares some design aspects of other mausoleums in the UK but is just a monument. Robert Burns does have a mausoleum, but it can be found at St. Michaels Churchyard in Dumfries.

What else can be seen near the Burns Monument and Gardens?

  • The Brig O' Doon bridge can be seen from the gardens and accessed in less than 2 minutes.

  • The Robert Burns Museum is directly next to the gardens, and the Burns Birthplace Cottage is a 10-minute walk away.

  • The Alloway Auld Kirk and Alloway Parish Church are also directly next to the gardens.

  • The Brig O' Doon Hotel is just south of the gardens and is a charming building. They offer great food and drink.

Old bridge piece showing Ayr Castle.
A section of an old bridge showing Ayr Castle.

Video clips from the Robert Burns Monument and Gardens

Here are a few video clips of our visit to the monument.

The upper area of the monument and view of gardens.
Upper area 360 view.
Gardens and monument.
Gardens and monument.
Brig O' Doon and Gardens.

Key information on Burns Monument and Gardens

  • Robert Burns was a great poet who lived in the late 1700s in Scotland.

  • His work gained popularity after his death, and the monument in this article was erected in his honour.

  • The monument was completed in 1823.

  • Robert Burns is not buried here; he has a mausoleum at St. Michaels Churchyard in Dumfries.

  • The monument is free to visit, but donations are accepted.

The Burns Museum still raise funds today for the monument.
A visit to the gardens and monument is highly recommended.


The Burns Monument and Gardens are a must-visit while visiting Alloway, particularly if you are a lover of Burns's work. There are so many Burns-related places where you can really have a full day of activities and soak in the history of one of Scotland's most beloved sons.

All information was correct at the time of writing, please check things like entry costs and opening times before you arrive.

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