Bill H. Jenkins

Sep 192017
 

Statue of David HumeThe Royal Mile, Edinburgh EH1 1RN

David Hume (1711–76), incongruously portrayed in this statue as an ancient Greek philosopher rather than a mid-eighteenth-century man of letters, is perhaps the best known figure of the Scottish Enlightenment. In the eighteenth century Edinburgh witnessed an unprecedented flowering of science, literature and philosophy. Hume was a contemporary of Adam Smith (1723–90), the great political economist, Adam Ferguson (1721–1816), the social theorist, Joseph Black (1727–99), the pioneering chemist and James Hutton (1726–97), the geologist. These figures all knew each other and socialised together in the convivial atmosphere of Edinburgh’s many clubs and hostelries. Together they helped develop many of the ideas and theories that made the modern world.

Portrait of David Hume (1711–1776) by Allan Ramsay.

Portrait of David Hume (1711–1776) by Allan Ramsay.

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Sep 192017
 

James CourtJames’ Court 493 Lawnmarket Edinburgh EH1 2PB

The buildings at the back of Gladstone’s Land date from the 16th century and give a feel of the crowded Old Town of the 18th century. Before the New Town was built, Edinburgh was enclosed by a wall on top of the long ridge of volcanic rock down which runs the Royal Mile. Due to the lack of space, the city was built up instead of out, some tenements rising to 10 stories or more. The rich had rooms at the top of these builidings while the poor lived on the lower floors. James Court was opened out in 1725 to give more space. It was here in 1762 that the philosopher David Hume came to live, having been born across the road in Riddle’s Court in 1711.

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Sep 082017
 

Tomb of David HumeOld Calton Burial Ground, 27 Waterloo Pl, Edinburgh EH1 3BQ

David Hume’s two key works, A Treatise of Human Nature (1739–40) and An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748), are still studied by students of philosophy today. Although he is now best known as a philosopher, in his own day he was equally famous as a historian. While his genius was universally acknowledged, his sceptical philosophy was extremely controversial and led to him being passed over for professorships at the Universities of both Edinburgh and Glasgow. Instead he found a job as librarian at the Faculty of Advocates. His Essays on Natural Religion were so provocative that he never dared publish them in his lifetime.

Portrait of David Hume (1711–1776) by Allan Ramsay.

Portrait of David Hume (1711–1776) by Allan Ramsay.

Inscription on the tomb of David Hume.

Inscription on the tomb of David Hume.

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The University of Edinburgh, Philosophy – David Hume

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy – David Hume

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Sep 082017
 

Grave of Archbald PitcairneGreyfriars Kirkyard, 1 Greyfriars, Edinburgh EH1 2QQ

There has been much debate among historian about the extent ot which the Scottish Enlightenment was a consequence of the Union with England in 1707. The existence of figures such as Archibald Pitcairne (1652–1713) provides powerful ammunition fo those who trace the roots of the Scottish Enlightenment back to before the Union. Pitcairne was an noted Edinburgh physician and scholar. He had been professor of medicine at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, but returned to Edinburgh in 1693. He was also an important early disciple of Isaac Newton, one of a group of Edinburgh Newtonians who played a significant role in the spread of Newton’s theories. His satirical writings criticising the Church earned him a reputation as an atheist and freethinker. Other inportant Edinburgh virtuosi, as they are sometimes called, included Sir Robert Sibbald (1641–1722) and Andrew Balfour (1630–94).

 

Portrait of Archibald Pitcairnce (1652-1713) by Rob Stranae.

Portrait of Archibald Pitcairne (1652-1713) by Robert Strange.

Inscription on the grave of Archibald Pitcairne.

Inscription on the grave of Archibald Pitcairne.

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Aug 212017
 

Old Royal Infirmary1 Lauriston Place, Edinburgh EH3 9EU

Designed by architect David Bryce, the Royal Infirmary at Lauriston Place was a state-of-the-art hospital when it was opened in 1879. The main hospital was also complimented by the new Edinburgh Royal Maternity Hospital.  In its day the Royal Infirmary was probably the best-planned hospitals in Britain. However, by the second half of the twentieth century it was proving inadequate to the needs of the new National Health Service. It was moved to a new site at Little France on the south-eastern outskirts of the city in 2003. Most of the site has since been redeveloped as the Quartermile project. It is also home to the University of Edinburgh’s Futures Institute.

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Aug 162017
 

Darwin BuildingMax Born Crescent, King’s Buildings, Edinburgh EH9 3BF

This building was occupied from 1968 by Britain’s first university department of molecular biology, founded in 1965. Two eminent scientists in this department were Sir Kenneth Murray (1930-2013) and his wife Lady Noreen Murray (1935-2011) whose research helped pioneer a vaccine for hepatitis B. This work was sponsored by Biogen, the first biotechnology company in Europe, which was established by Kenneth Murray and colleagues in 1978 with laboratories in Geneva and Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1983, Murray donated his share of the income generated by this research to the University and established the Darwin Trust of Edinburgh, a charity formed to support education and research in the biological sciences. The Darwin Building is now home to the Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology and is currently undergoing redevelopment.

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Jul 242017
 

The Bungalow

Navaar House Hotel, 23 Bog Rd, Penicuik EH26 9BY

‘The Bungalow’ was originally home to James Cossar Ewart (1851–1933), Regius Professor of Natural History at the University of Edinburgh between 1882 and 1927. Ewart commissioned the house in 1895 and also established a ‘Natural History Station’ on the premises, where he kept a menagerie of animals. Ewart’s most famous experiments were cross-breeding zebras and horses, the results of which were published in 1899 as The Penycuik Experiments. Ewart was later instrumental in founding the study of genetics at the University. The Bungalow is now a hotel, as is Ewart’s later home, Craigybield, which is situated further down the road.

The Bungalow c.1900.

The Bungalow c.1900.

 

 Zebra-horse hybrid

James Cossar Ewart with his zebra-horse hybrid Romulus, at the Bungalow, Penicuik, c.1899.

 

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Jul 242017
 

Mortonhall HouseMortonhall, 38 Mortonhall Gate, Frogston Road, Edinburgh EH16 6TJ

Originally a country mansion built in 1769 and thought to be designed by the Edinburgh architect John Baxter, this house was occupied by scientists at the new Agricultural Research Council (ARC) Unit of Animal Genetics and their families during the late 1940s and early 1950s. This communal living arrangement proved to be a turbulent experience which became immortalised in Edith Simon’s fictional book The Past Masters (1953). The house has now been converted into flats and offices on a site also occupied by a caravan and camping park, garden centre, golf course and crematorium.

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Jul 242017
 

Crew LaboratoryCrew Laboratory, King’s Buildings, EH9 3JN

The Mutagenesis Research Unit of the Institute of Animal Genetics was established in 1958 with Medical Research Council funding. The director of the Unit, Charlotte Auerbach (1899-1994), had arrived at the Institute in 1933 after fleeing the Nazi regime in Germany. She was introduced to mutagenesis research by future Nobel Laureate Hermann J. Muller, during a research visit to Edinburgh. During the Second World War, Auerbach and the pharmacologist J.M. Robson made the groundbreaking discovery that mustard gas causes mutations to the chromosomes. The former Unit building is now renamed the Crew Laboratory and houses the Institute of Atmospheric and Environmental Science, part of the School of GeoSciences.

Charlotte Auerbach

Charlotte Auerbach, c.1955.

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Jul 242017
 

The Roslin Institute.

Easter Bush, Midlothian, EH25 9RG

After becoming part of the University of Edinburgh’s College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, in 2011 the Roslin Institute moved to new premises on the Easter Bush campus, across the road from the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies. The new building was designed by global architecture firm HDR, Inc. In 2015 the building received a blue plaque to commemorate Dolly the sheep’s birth.

 

Plaque commemorating Dolly.

Plaque commemorating Dolly.

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