Livingsone’s Lion

Blantyre's Ain Website

Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Blantyre Folk

David Livingstone

Livingstone’s Lion

Livingstone's LionOn 16 February 1844 Livingstone was working on the ditches of the watercourse when some natives were screaming to him to help them kill a lion that had just dragged off some sheep.

As Livingstone put it later: ‘I very imprudently ventured across the valley in order to encourage them to destroy him.’

It was not Livingstone’s only mistake; he went with only one gun and with no armed native at his side. He fired both barrels at the lion but only wounded him.


Livingstone Lion

As he vainly tried to reload, the lion leapt on him and, catching him by the arm, shook him ‘as a terrier dog does a rat’. Livingstone’s upper arm was splintered at once; the lion’s teeth made a series of gashes like ‘gun-shot wounds’.

Livingstone was only saved by the sudden appearance of Mebalwe, an elderly convert whom Livingstone had brought from Kuruman as a teacher.

Mebalwe, seeing that his master would be dead within minutes unless he acted, snatched a gun from another native, loaded and fired both barrels.

The gun misfired but the lion was diverted at this crucial moment and bounded off to attack his new assailant.

The luckless Mebalwe was badly bitten on the thigh and another who tried to help him was in turn bitten on the shoulder.

At this stage, however, the lion suddenly dropped dead, killed at last by the wounds initially inflicted by Livingstone.

Livingstone was extremely ill for weeks… It is hard to imagine the agony he must have suffered without anaesthetic and without the help of another doctor. He had to supervise the setting of the badly splintered arm himself.

Nevertheless he made an astoundingly fast recovery and within months was working cautiously on the lighter tasks involved in building his house.’

The incredible sculpture featured above is by Gareth Knowles.

Livingstone’s Lion Designed by Famous Film Animator

The Art of Ray HarryhausenRay Harryhausen may not be familiar to everyone but to those who do know it, his name stands as a landmark in the history of a genre and cinematic art, the art of dimensional stop-motion animation.

His crowning achievement in this field occurred in 2004. Because Diana Harryhausen is the great granddaughter of the missionary and explorer, David Livingstone, Ray designed and oversaw the casting in bronze of a one and half times life statue of the great man being attacked by a lion. The statue can be seen in the grounds of The David Livingston Centre in Blantyre, Lanarkshire in Scotland.

Ray proudly stands in front of the huge bronze statue to David Livingstone in Blantyre, Lanarkshire with the sculptor Gareth Knowles. It was erected here in April 2004.

Photo: The Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation.

Irishman Gareth Knowles, was born in 1965 and met his hero, Ray Harryhausen, in 1992. Ray designed the statue out of beeswax, which is what creator Knowles had to refer to. Gareth worked on a clay version of the statue for 2 years before having it moulded in bronze The statue was finally unveiled on 7th April 2004 at David Livingstone Memorial Centre, commissioned by the National Trust for Scotland.


Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland

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