A relatively new edition to Edinburgh’s historic monuments, the Manuscript of Monte Cassino – also known as the Big Foot – is a sculpture many tourists pass, but few realise is there. Even among the locals near Picardy Place (where the Manuscript of Monte Cassino is located), the three bronze segments are regarded more as curiosities than with the reverence reserved for the city’s other monuments.
Sir Eduardo Paolozzi’s magnificent sculpture was erected in 1991. The Big Foot is positioned in front of Edinburgh’s largest Roman Catholic Church, St. Mary’s. The symbolism of the Manuscript of Monte Cassino (the Big Foot) is oblique. Recent debates in the city have centered around the idea of moving one or more parts of the statue to the foot of Leith Walk (the setting of Danny Boyle’s “Trainspotting” film, and an area which has struggled to regenerate – some would say gentrify – itself).
The Area Around The Big Foot
In its present location, the Manuscript of Monte Cassino (the Big Foot) is located at the crossing of some of Edinburgh’s liveliest night spots. Broughton Street is home to many clubs and bars, and the chip shop at the top of that street is known for its chips with cheese and curry. At the foot of Leith Street, which connects Princes Street to Leith Walk (in Edinburgh, it’s always a good idea to remember whether someone’s directions included “Street,” “Crescent,” “Road,” or “Lane” as you’ll often find four thoroughfares with the same prefacing word), the Omni Center (a complex including a sports club, restaurants, and a cinema) sidles up against major receiving house The Playhouse, all of which back onto Greenside.
The Manuscript of Monte Cassino (the Big Foot) itself offers a whimsical look at a foot, arm, and ankle piece, and offer passersby the opportunity to stop, blink, check they’re seeing what they think they’ve just seen, then walk on with a smile.