This striking landmark overlooking the Muckle Toon of Langholm on the summit of Whita Hill was built to commemorate Sir John Malcolm, one of the ten Malcolm sons of Burnfoot, Langholm.
The Malcolms were tenant farmers and, across the river Esk from Burnfoot, were the Paisleys of Craig farm. In 1761 the families were united by the marriage of George Malcolm and Margaret (“Bonnie Peggy”) Paisley. Over the next 21 years, Bonnie Peggy gave birth to no fewer than 17 children. Of the ten boys, four were knighted. In addition, Bonnie Peggy’s brother Tom became an admiral and received a baronetcy; while Charles William Paisley, Bonnie Peggy’s nephew, spent much of his childhood at Burnfoot and was also knighted.
Young John Malcolm entered the service of the East India Company at 13. Later he was appointed a cadet in Madras and saw active service against Tipu Sahib, Sultan of Mysore.
Not only was John a brave and distinguished soldier, but he accomplished several literary achievements.
Monuments to John’s memory were erected at Bombay, in Westminster Abbey and on Whita Hill. The last of these was designed by Robert Howe, and the foundation stone was laid by Sir James Graham from Netherby, just over the border on the English side of the river Esk, on the 16th September 1835. It is a plain obelisk, built of the freestone of Whita Hill. Its height is 100 feet and from its position atop the lofty hill it can be seen from up to 30 miles away. He who doesn’t recognise the Langholm Monument is said not to know the western Borderland.