I regularly go for walks up Dundee Law, the 174 metre high volcanic plug that overlooks the city. A year or two ago, during one of my walks, a journalist from a local newspaper vox popped me about the facilities on the Law. He told me that the council was planning on erecting some kind of archway at the entrance to the Law as a sort of landmark. I would have thought the massive hill was enough of a landmark.
For several months, one of the routes up the hill has been closed because the state of the steps has become dangerously dilapidated. Over the past few weeks, one of the other routes up has been blocked off for work, but I didn’t know what for. Then last week I saw this.
I couldn’t really tell what it was all about. I’m all for public art, but this initially served to confuse me rather than amuse me.
I mean, is it supposed to look this rusty? It’s difficult to tell. I imagine it is, because it is just new up and it’s difficult to imagine that just one shower would have caused this by accident. But then again, looking on the inside of the sculpture, it is difficult to know if it’s intentional.
It is a sculpture of whalebones. According to the Courier, the cast iron sculpture is a celebration of Dundee’s whaling heritage. It also represents the iron age history of the Law, and the motifs on the outside represent archaeological finds in the area.
Not surprisingly for a prominent hill, there was once a fort at the top. But if you didn’t know, you would be hard pushed to guess. In the past century the remains were wiped out to make way for a striking war memorial and a transmitter. So it’s nice that this sculpture gives a nod to the hill’s history.
It is good to see some effort being made to improve the facilities of the Law, which have become rather run-down of late. But I can’t help but wonder if they would have been better off starting with the steps to the top, which have become downright dangerous and get worse on a weekly basis.
When I moved to Dundee in 2010, the steps were already in quite a bad way, and were extremely slippery when wet. The way they have deteriorated since then has been alarming. The photograph above was taken last weekend. This is the bit of the ascent that is open!
It is more or less the spot where the journalist stopped me for the vox pop. I told him that the steps were in need of repair before any archway is constructed. Back then, the banister still stood up. Not many of the steps had fallen away. Many of them have now.
So I hope the whalebone sculpture is just the start of a proper regeneration. We are told in the Courier article, “Over the next few years you will see some extra TLC given to the area.” I hope that is the case. Dundee Law is one of the city’s greatest assets, affording stunning views from the top. It’s a great green area with a forest and plenty to explore in a small area. But the Law is badly let down by the terrible state of the ascent.
I am looking forward to the improvements.