His elaborate stories took readers on a meandering journey back in time, to Jacobite uprisings and days of feuding clans, crusades, and marauding outlaws.

Having offered hungry readers their first taste of the historic romantic novel, Sir Walter Scott achieved superstar status, influenced countless other novelists, and helped embed a tartan-trimmed vision of Scotland in the minds of generations of tourists.

But while his massive influence on literature, tourism and Scotland’s image is well-documented, an exhibition now aims to spotlight how Scott’s legacy continues to loom large in many towns and cities – even though it might not be immediately obvious.

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And it raises the notion of how, without Scott’s looming presence in 19th century Scottish society, countless buildings – some of which have become national favourites - might have looked significantly different.

The online and ‘in person’ exhibition of drawings, photographs and sketches has been gathered by archivists at heritage body Historic Environment Scotland to show the buildings, monuments and place-names which trace Scott’s influence on Scottish architecture.

It highlights how, having been inspired by historic locations for his novels, Scott turned his deep appreciation of medieval architecture to develop his own home, Abbotsford.

The Herald: Sir Walter Scott turned his deep appreciation of medieval architecture to develop his own home, AbbotsfordSir Walter Scott turned his deep appreciation of medieval architecture to develop his own home, Abbotsford (Image: Historic Environment Scotland)

There, working with architects William Atkinson and Edward Blore, he set about expanding the existing humble farmhouse building to fit his vision of a medieval ‘fairytale silhouette’ and in doing so, inadvertently ignited a new craze in building design.

According to HES archivist Veronica Fraser, such was Scott’s status and influence across the country, demand quickly grew for new buildings which reflected Abbotsford’s distinctive medieval-inspired style, with its crow-stepped gables, cone-shaped turrets, square porch – which Scott had modelled on Linlithgow Palace - and decorative roofline.

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Having kick-started what became known as the Scots baronial style of architecture, before long buildings began to pop up around Scotland that echoed key features of Scott’s Abbotsford home, from Balmoral Castle to Edinburgh’s Cockburn Street, the Trongate in Glasgow, Marischal College in Aberdeen and Hospitalfield in Arbroath, a country house now used as an arts centre.

While well-to-do Victorians followed Scott’s lead and embraced the new fashion in architecture for their homes, in high streets across the country important buildings such as town halls, courtrooms, schools and offices began to appear with the same distinctive features that echoed Scott’s family home.

“His influence on Scottish architecture was indirect, he advised his architect on what he wanted at Abbotsford, and then others picked up on that style,” says Ms Fraser.

“He was interested in the medieval period, and he liked features such as crow-step gables and cone topped towers. He gathered these motifs at Abbotsford and began this move away from more classical building styles.

“Because he was so influential, others saw the building and wanted to build in the same way.”

The Herald: Trongate junction with Nelson Street, GlasgowTrongate junction with Nelson Street, Glasgow (Image: Historic Environment Scotland)

Scott’s architect, Edward Blore, had already studied historic buildings and created detailed drawings of them and their distinctive features.

His engravings included one of Holyrood Palace – as it was then named – which showed its corners topped with pointed turrets; features Scott decided to replicate at Abbotsford.

While such was excitement surrounding anything Scott did, that visitors would make special trips to Abbotsford to see the building’s design, while architects endeavoured to imitate its ornate features.

However, the extent of the work carried out at Abbotsford was hugely expensive, and Scott’s finances became seriously stretched.

“Abbotsford started as a farmhouse and when he moved in 1811, he began to greatly expand it,” she adds. “It grew and grew, and he became bankrupt.

“But he wrote and wrote and managed to get himself out of bankruptcy.”

While Scott’s influence on architecture and the new Scots baronial style inspired many 19th century buildings, it also spilled into the next century with famous architects like Robert Lorimer putting his own interpretation of it on Rowallan Castle in Ayrshire, Ardkinglas in Argyll and Formakin House in Renfrewshire.

“Scott’s influence can also be seen in Charles Rennie Macintosh’s Hill House,” adds Ms Fraser. “It is a pared down version but there are echoes of the building style that grew from Sir Walter Scott.”

The HES exhibition explores the work of architects influenced by Scott’s favoured baronial style, the historic buildings which influenced his writing, and locations linked to his life.

It also highlights his lasting presence across the country in placenames, street names and monuments which echo his name, his books and characters.

The Herald: High Street with Cockburn Street junctionHigh Street with Cockburn Street junction (Image: Historic Environment Scotland)

Among the exhibits are the entries submitted to the competition to find a design for the Scott Monument in Princes Street, launched within weeks of the writer’s death. The competition attracted 55 entries; 22 were Gothic in design, 11 statues, 14 Grecian temples and 5 obelisks, fountains or pillars.

It was won by a relative unknown and self-taught architect, George Meikle Kemp, creating controversy over the elaborate design and accusations that it had been copied.

According to Ms Fraser, Scott’s influence on life even now in Scotland is often overlooked.

“Many buildings that he influenced were built long after his death in 1832, but he started the ball rolling,” adds Ms Fraser. “He was a huge celebrity and followed in a way that probably wouldn’t happen now.”

The online exhibition can be viewed at www.historicenvironment.scot and exhibits can be viewed in person – pre-booking essential - at the HES Archives, John Sinclair House, Bernard Terrace, Edinburgh.