You will find eight mermaids of Edinburgh in Ross Fountain, in the Princes Street Gardens. The location is magnificent, with the lush greenery of the park and the direct view of the Edinburgh Castle up high.
The fountain was made of cast iron in a foundry near Paris, in the early 1860s. The figures were sculpted by Jean-Baptiste Klagmann, who has done other famous works of sculpture in Paris.
The first tier contains the eight mermaids holding urns, and four lions’ faces as spouts.
The fountain is known as the Ross Fountain because gunmaker Daniel Ross of Edinburgh bought the fountain when it was exhibited in London in 1862. Ross then donated it to the city of Edinburgh. It was subsequently dismantled in London and shipped, and then installed in its present location in 1872.
The 4 figures on the second tier represent Science, Art, Poetry and Industry. Four mermaid children hold up the second tier water basins.
So there really are twelve ‘mermaids of Edinburgh’ in the Ross fountain – the eight adult mermaids in tier 1, and the 4 mermaid children on tier 2.
The fountain and the mermaids are shown here shortly after one of the renovations, with the entire fountain and the figures all golden. You will likely find the fountain a little more weathered than this, and with the figures in dark grey, the structure itself mostly green, and a lot of gold accents on the detail work.
See more photos and history detail on the Ross Fountain Mermaids page.