AS Scotland gets geared up to celebrate its national bard, an iconic statue of Robert Burns has been safely returned to its home in Edinburgh.

On Tuesday morning, former Edinburgh Makar Alan Spence (author of Sailmaker and Way To Go) joined city council leaders, tram project workers and conservationists to mark the unveiling of the statue.

Spectators gathered to witness the placement of a brand new time capsule underneath the statue - to rest alongside an original capsule discovered in 2019, which contained relics from both the late 19th century and the 1960s.

The bronze sculpture, erected in the 19th century, was put into storage over two years ago in December 2019 whilst Bernard Street underwent tram construction works.

Whilst removing the statue, contractors unearthed a 19th century time capsule, containing relics from 1898.

The National:

The hoard included newspapers, coins of all denominations from the time, a pamphlet including information on crimes investigated in Edinburgh in 1897, a leaflet with the constitution of the Leith Burns Club and a letter from the Leith Burns Club with members details and information on the statue and a Burns poem.

It is believed to have been placed there when the statue was put up in the late 19th century, though after opening the capsule conservators learned that it had been subsequently opened and resealed in 1961, from whence there was a newspaper and a letter from the people who’d opened it.

Since the statue’s removal, it has undergone expert conservation work to restore it to its former glory.

Councillor Lesley Macinnes said: “I’m delighted to see this much-loved Robert Burns statue returned to its home in Leith - and spruced up thanks to specialist conservation work - just in time for Burns night.”

The National:

“It’s fantastic that so many members of the community have been able to contribute to the new time capsule placed underneath the statue.

“Thanks to their input we’ll be able to share an insight into Leith today with future generations, just like our 19th century forebears did when they buried the original time capsule.”

Councillor Karen Doran said: “What better way to celebrate Scotland’s national bard than the unveiling of this newly-restored statue?”

She continued: “Its return also marks progress being made on the Trams to Newhaven project, as the area begins to take shape. I’m excited to see what the coming months will bring as ongoing improvements are delivered."

During the unveiling, Alan Spence read out a specially written poem, which was then added to the new 2021 capsule.

The National: Scotland's former Makar, Alan Spence, recites a specially-written poemScotland's former Makar, Alan Spence, recites a specially-written poem

Also added to the capsule were poems and stories by Victoria Primary School pupils, a letter from the Edinburgh Burns Club, coins from this year and a face mask - artefacts that will give future generations an idea of what life was like in 2021.