Saltoun Place Fountain

Location: Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

The canopied drinking fountain is design number 20, an elaborate 18 feet by 4 feet fountain, sold by Walter Macfarlane & Co, and manufactured at the Saracen Foundry, Possilpark, Glasgow, Scotland. Seated on a double octagonal plinth, the open filigree canopy is supported by eight columns with griffin terminals which are positioned over capitals with foliage frieze above square bases.

The highly decorated cusped arches are trimmed with rope mouldings. Cartouches contained within each lunette offer shields for memorial containing the town’s coat of arms, swans, and cranes. Internal lunettes display lion masks acknowledged as guardians. On each side arch faceplates provided a flat surface for an inscription using raised metal letters; often the useful monition, Keep the pavement dry. Civic virtues such as temperance were often extolled in inscriptions on drinking fountains.

Doves and flowers offer decorative relief on the circular, ribbed dome. The internal capitals contain flowers and the internal lunettes contain a lion mascaron. The structure is surmounted by an ostrich with a key in its mouth. During discussions on the proposed fountain, the manufactured eagle finial was considered too Germanic. It was replaced with an ostrich which is on the town’s coat of arms. However, the ostrich became a source of amusement and a decision was made to insert a key in its beak to indicate that the people of Fraserburgh could swallow almost anything. A further modification was made to the finial after pranksters climbed the structure and sat astride the ostrich. This initiated the addition of an urn on which the ostrich now stands.

Under the canopy stands the font (design number 18.) A circular shaft, ornamented with water lilies, rests on a wide base with canted corners. Four lion jambs support four highly decorated quatrefoil basins. Rising from the centre is a pyramid shaped stanchion decorated with swan and bird decoration. A kylix-shaped lamp terminal with four consoles offer drinking cups suspended by chains.

The fountain was erected in 1904 at the junction of Strichen Road and Saltoun Place. After the war, it was decided that the war memorial should be erected on the site and in 1923 the fountain was moved to the junction of Strichen Road and Links Road.

In 1952 the fountain was painted silver to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee. The structure was listed a category B building on 31st August 1993.

Symbolism was popular in Victorian times. Griffins are symbolic of guardians of priceless possessions; cranes were recognised as a symbol of vigilance; and lions are acknowledged as guardians.


  • Capital, the top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • Cartouche, a structure or figure, often in the shape of an oval shield or oblong scroll, used as an architectural or graphic ornament or to bear a design or inscription
  • Cusped Arch, the point of intersection of lobed or scalloped forms
  • Filigree, fine ornamental work
  • Finial, a sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
  • Jamb, a projecting vertical post containing sculpture Lunette, the half-moon shaped space framed by an arch, often containing a window or painting
  • Kylix, a Grecian style drinking cup
  • Plinth, a flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests
  • Quatrefoil, A type of decorative framework consisting of a symmetrical shape which forms the overall outline of four partially-overlapping circles of the same diameter
  • Stanchion, upright bar or post providing support
  • Terminal, statue or ornament that stands on a pedestal

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