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MacDiarmid Memorial

McDairmad Memorial

Dedicated to Hugh MacDairmid
This gigantic metalic "open book" is situated on the hillside overlooking Langholm just off the road to Newcastleton. It is dedicated to the poet Hugh MacDiarmid, joint founder of the Scottish National Party and lover of Scotland. Hugh MacDiarmid is the pen name of one of the most famous Scottish poets, renowned for his work both in English and in the Scots language. Born in Langholm on 11th August 1892, Christopher Murray Grieve was brought up and educated in the town, where his father was a postman. He lived in the building which houses the Thomas Telford Library and later ascribed his literary bent to his youthful familiarity with the books there.

Leaving home in his teens, he abandoned teaching for a career in journalism which took him all over the United Kingdom. His career was interrupted by War Service in the Royal Army Medical Corps in Salonika and France during World War One and in a Glasgow shipyard during World War Two.

Always Controversial
Always a figure of controversy he at various times joined and was expelled from the National Party of Scotland and the Communist Party.

Finally settling in Biggar with his second wife Valda, MacDiarmid died on 9 September 1978 and was buried in the graveyard in his native Langholm. Most widely known for the extensive 'A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle', MacDiarmid published his first collection under the title 'Annals of the Five Senses' in 1923. Subsequent collections of his work included 'Penny Wheep', 'Three Hymns to Lenin' and 'A Kist of Whistles'.

Jake Harvey was the sculptor who created the memorial and based it on the idea of an open book. The book itself is a landscape filled with images and symbols of the landscape known to MacDiarmid.
The sculpture is constructed in Corten steel and bronze. Corten is a weathering steel which oxidises on the surface; it forms a protective skin and therefore requires no maintenance. Being a quality steel, it had to be made at Ravenscraig. A combination of positive and negative forms are used throughout.

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