Canongate Wall quotations

Text and authors of the quotations inscribed on the Canongate Wall and the type and source of the stones used.

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.

Mary Brooksbank (1897 - 1978), Oh Dear Me (The Jute Mill Song)

Iona Marble - Iona, Argyll

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

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

Norman MacCaig (1910 - 1996), A Man in Assynt

Bressay Sandstone - Shetland Islands

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

Psalm 19:14

Cove Red Sandstone - Annan, Dumfries and Galloway

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

Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928)

Kemnay Granite - Aberdeenshire

Bright is the ring of words.

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) "Songs of Travel"

Lewissian Gneiss - Lochinver, Sutherland

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

Alasdair Gray (1934-2019)

© Canongate Press (paraphrased from Dennis Lee’s Civil Elegies. Toronto: Anansi,1972)

Iona Marble - Iona, Argyll

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.

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

Easdale Slate - Easdale Island, Argyll

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

George Macdonald (1824-1905) "Song"

Giffnock Sandstone - Glasgow

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

Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919)

Glen Tilt Marble - Blair Atholl, Perthshire

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

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

© the author

Easdale Slate - Easdale Island, Argyll

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.

Anonymous "Canadian Boat Song" First appeared 1829

Ardkinglas - Cairndow, Argyll

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.

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

© W L Lorimer Memorial Trust

Pipe rock - Ledmore, Highlands

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.

Hugh MacDiarmid (1892-1978) "The Little White Rose"

© Carcanet Press

Cullaloe Sandstone - Aberdour, Sandstone

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.

Robert Burns (1759-1796) "To a Louse"

Ardkinglas - Cairndow, Argyll

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.

Hugh MacDiarmid (1892-1978)

© Carcanet Press

Lewissian Gneiss - Lochinver, Sutherland

Abair ach beagan is abair gu math e.


Say but little and say it well.


Caithness Flagstone - Spittal, Caithness

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.

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

© Estate of Hamish Henderson

Corrennie Granite - Aberdeenshire

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.

Sir Alexander Gray (1882-1968) "Scotland"

© John Gray

Whinstone - Caldercruix, West Lothian

tell us about last night

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

Edwin Morgan (1920-2010)

© Carcanet Press

Clashach Sandstone - Elgin, Morayshire

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

John Muir (1838-1914)

Ross of Mull Granite - Fionnphort, Argyll

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.

Robert Burns (1759-1796) "A Man's A Man for A' That"

Errochty - Struan, Perthshire

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.

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889) "Inversnaid"

Carmyllie Sandstone - Angus

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


He who sowest best reapest best.


Torridonian Sandstone - Ullapool, Highlands

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


Knowehead Sandstone - Dumfries

(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.

Andrew Fletcher (1655-1716)

Ledmore Marble - Ledmore Quarry, Highlands

Scotland small? Our multiform, our infinite Scotland small?

Hugh MacDiarmid (1892-1978) "Scotland Small?"

Grey Granite Beach Boulder - Dunbeath Beach, Caithness


2 stones have no text:

A conglomerate from Dunbeath Beach, Caithness and the other is Errochty from Struan, Perthshire.

This website is using cookies.
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we’ll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on this website.