Influences of Ancient Egypt on architecture and ornament in Scotland
Packer, John Aidan
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This work seeks to identify the forms and origins of Ancient Egyptian architecture and the complex historical progress which brought these to Scotland, identifying the affinities shared by both countries and their evolving role from their first arrival to the present day. The thesis follows Egypt’s first appearance in Scottish legend and its later influence, at the close of the 16th century, in the practices of organised Freemasonry, to be followed, from the second quarter of the 17th century, by numerous obelisk sundials and with the construction of the first pyramid towards its close. In the 18th century, single obelisk monuments with Masonic implications appeared, and the outstanding significance of the Scottish Enlightenment and its fascination with Antiquity are noted. That this coincided with the Grand Tour encouraged Scottish aristocrats, architects, and artists to observe, to study and to be inspired by Egyptian forms, principally in Rome, which then appeared in Scottish country house and garden. The first recorded visit of a Scot to Egypt, in 1768, led to the delayed publication of an account in 1793 and the century closed with the outbreak of the British military campaign in Egypt against Napoleon’s invading forces. The participation of Scots troops led to a new familiarity with the land and, albeit from France, there were produced the first accurate details of the country’s monuments and an ensuing enthusiasm for an ‘Egyptian Revival’. This thesis goes on to record the 19th century absorption with mourning, when the use of Egyptian symbols, aided by industrial methods of production, grew to a peak, allied to new archaeological discoveries by visiting Scots and the growth of accurate publications. These two latter, increased by the growing number of Scots who visited the country, influenced the use of Egyptian themes in a wide range of buildings, religious, domestic and industrial. The 20th century rejection of both religion and commemoration, except in acknowledgement of the sacrifice of those who gave their lives in the First and Second World Wars, led to the decline of Egyptian mourning themes and new building techniques left little place for Egyptian references which were mainly reduced to mere surface ornament. This thesis concludes with an important 21st century military example which contains within it, a unique range of Egyptian symbols of commemoration.