The death of Admiral Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 was felt by many people in Britain to be more than just a public calamity, for he had been regarded almost as a personal friend by many who had never made his acquaintance. In Edinburgh it was decided that a monument should be built which would be both ornamental and useful, this to be accomplished by replacement of the existing "telegraph", a simple mast landmark, on the summit of the Calton Hill by a stone signal-tower tall enough to be seen by the shipping in Leith Roads.
The structure, most obviously comparable in form to a spy-glass, but also less reverently to a butter-churn, has its base 456 ft above sea-level and stands 106 ft high. Climb the 143 steps to see the tremendous panoramic view of Edinburgh.
In 1852 a time signal was installed at the top of the monument to enable captains of ships to set their chronometers accurately. A large time-ball drops at 12 noon GMT (1.00pm in Summer) on week-days. During the summer the lowering of the time-ball coincides with the firing of the one o'clock gun at Edinburgh Castle.
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