Highlands & Islands

Call to reopen Dingwall's Fighting Mac monument

Sir Hector MacDonald Image copyright bbc
Image caption Maj Gen Sir Hector MacDonald was the son of a Ross-shire crofter

An online petition is calling for a tower dedicated to one of the most celebrated soldiers of the Victorian era to be reopened.

Highland Council closed the 30m (100ft) MacDonald Monument near Dingwall for health and safety reasons.

Maj Gen Sir Hector MacDonald, nicknamed Fighting Mac, fought in wars in Afghanistan and was an aide to Queen Victoria.

George Murray, of Dingwall Community Council, started the petition.

He said he hoped it would draw public attention to Highland Council's closure of the monument.

The landmark tower is on a hill overlooking Dingwall, the home town of the decorated soldier.

Highland Council said a health and safety investigation had raised concerns that the condition of the stairs and a lack of headroom in the landing areas would restrict an evacuation of the structure.

The height of a parapet at the top of the monument has also been a cause for concern.

Image copyright Mary and Angus Hogg/Geograph
Image caption The MacDonald Monument is closed to the public due to health and safety concerns

The local authority said it had offered to help facilitate a community buyout of the monument.

Nicknamed Fighting Mac, Sir Hector was the son of a Ross-shire crofter but rose through the ranks of the military, from teenage soldier to senior officer.

He was regarded as a brilliant military strategist by his peers, and known for leading his soldiers from the front.

Rumours about sexual activity with young men in Ceylon led to threats of a court martial and he shot himself in a Paris hotel in 1903.

However, his supporters, including members of the Clan Donald Society, believe the rumours were the result of class snobbery and spite among fellow officers.

Six years ago, a play was written as part of efforts to rehabilitate Sir Hector's reputation.

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