Apr 172016
 

11 Lothian Street, Edinburgh EH1 1HE

Charles Darwin's lodgings

It was here that Charles Darwin lodged in the house of Mrs Mackay when a medical student in Edinburgh in 1825-27. He was not an enthusiastic student and left without finishing his degree. In Edinburgh he met Robert Edmond Grant, a lecturer in John Barclay’s anatomy school and an enthusiastic advocate of evolution. On one of their regular zoological collecting trips together Grant apparently ‘burst forth in admiration’ of  Jean-Baptiste Lamarck’s evolutionary theories. Darwin later claimed, perhaps disingenuously, that he had listened to Grant ‘as far as I can judge, without any effect on my mind’.

No public access. The original building no longer survives.

Charles Darwin (1809–82).

Charles Darwin (1809–82).

Robert Edmond Grant (1793-1874).

Robert Edmond Grant (1793-1874).

Plaque marking the site of Darwin's lodgings.

Plaque marking the site of Darwin’s lodgings.

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Apr 172016
 

Talbot Rice Gallery, Old College, South Bridge, Edinburgh EH8 9YL

Former University Natural History Museum

Until 1861 Edinburgh University’s museum was housed in what is now the Talbot Rice Gallery. The collection was founded by Sir Robert Sibbald in 1692 and greatly expanded by Robert Jameson, Edinburgh’s professor of natural history from 1804 to 1854. It contained the most important natural history collection in Britain after London’s British Museum. Jameson was notorious for denying access to scholars to whom he took a dislike, including a number of members of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He also famously ‘mislaid’ the geological collection of James Hutton, whose theories he did not agree with.

Admission to the Talbot Rice Gallery is free.

 

The Natural History Museum of the University of Edinburgh in Robert Jameson's day.

The Natural History Museum of the University of Edinburgh in Robert Jameson’s day.

Portrait of Robert Jameson (1774–1854) by one of his students, c.1831.

Portrait of Robert Jameson (1774–1854) by one of his students, c.1831.

 

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Apr 172016
 

Moray House, Holyrood Road, EH8 8AQ
Thompson's Land, University of Edinburgh

On this building you will find a plaque dedicated to Sir Godfrey Thomson, a pioneer of research into human intelligence. Thompson worked on the Scottish Mental Surveys of 1932 and 1947, which measured the intelligence of most of the children born in Scotland in 1921 and 1936 respectively. The data collected was rediscovered in the late 1990s by Ian Deary and Lawrence Whalley. Together with new data from the now elderly participants in the original survey, it has formed the basis of an important research programme exploring the effects of aging on the brain.

No public access.

Sir Godfrey Thomson (1881–1955).

Sir Godfrey Thomson (1881–1955).

Plaque to Sir Godfrey Thomson on Thomson's Land, University of Edinburgh

Plaque to Sir Godfrey Thomson on Thomson’s Land, University of Edinburgh

Plaque to Sir Godfrey Thompson in St John's Street.

Plaque to Sir Godfrey Thompson in St John’s Street.

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Apr 172016
 

57 George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9JU

Dawson Fyers Duckworth Turner's house

Dawson Fyers Duckworth Turner was a physician who had worked at a number of Edinburgh hospitals. He was a pioneer of the development of x-rays in medicine. Beginning in 1896, only one year after x-rays had been discovered by Roentgen, he set up an experimental x-ray apparatus at his house in George Square. He used this to demonstrate the power of x-rays to show bones and foreign objects through soft tissues. Not realising how dangerous the rays were, his experiments cost him three fingers and an eye.

No public access.

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Apr 172016
 

Royal College of Surgeons, Nicolson St, Edinburgh EH8 9BZ

Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh

A notorious riot took place on this spot at the doors of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1870 when male medical students attempted to prevent female students from taking an anatomy exam. The first group of female students, known as the Edinburgh Seven, were Sophia Jex-Blake, Isabel Thorne, Edith Pechey, Matilda Chaplin, Helen Evans, Mary Anderson, and Emily Bovell. Several went on to distinguished medical careers, including the leader of the group, Jex-Blake, who set up the Edinburgh Hospital and Dispensary for Women, and Chaplin, who founded a school of midwifery in Tokyo.

Sophia Jex-Blake (1840–1912).

Sophia Jex-Blake (1840–1912).

Plaque to the Edinburgh Seven, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.

Plaque to the Edinburgh Seven, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.

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Apr 172016
 

52 Queen Street, Edinburgh EH2 3NS

James Young Simpson's house

In this house on 4 November 1847 James Young Simpson, professor of medicine and midwifery at Edinburgh University, discovered the effects of chloroform, the first widely used anaesthetic. Simpson and some of his medical friends used to spend their evenings testing the effects of various chemical substances on themselves in the hope of finding an effective anaesthetic. On this particular evening they decided to try chloroform, which had first been sythesised in 1831. This instantly rendered all three of them unconscious until the next morning. On waking up, Simpson realised he  had found what he was looking for.

No public access.

James Young Simpson (1811–70).

James Young Simpson (1811–70).

Plaque on the wall of James Young Simpson's former house.

Plaque on the wall of James Young Simpson’s former house.

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Apr 172016
 

Greyfriars Cemetery, Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh EH1 2QQ

Tomb of Sir Robert Sibbald

Sir James Sibbald was a graduate of the University of Leiden, then the foremost centre for medical education in Europe. In 1685 he became the University of Edinburgh’s first professor of medicine, although as far as we know if never actually gave any lectures. He was a founder of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and, along with Sir Andrew Balfour, established the city’s first botanical gardens in 1670. He was a keen collector natural history specimens, which he left to the university in his will. These formed the original core of the University Museum’s famous natural history collection.

 

Robert Sibbald (1641–1722).

Sir Robert Sibbald (1641–1722).

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Apr 172016
 

Greyfriars Cemetery, Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh EH1 2QQ

Tomb of Colin Maclaurin

Colin Maclaurin was an important figure of the first years of the Scottish Enlightenment.  He was an early champion of Newtonianism, who was given the chair of mathematics at the University of Edinburgh in 1725 at Isaac Newton’s own recommendation. Maclaurin and a number of like-minded colleagues made Edinburgh into what was probably the most important centre for the dissemination of Newtonian ideas in Britain after the death of Newton himself. He famously defended Newton’s calculus against the philosophical objections of Bishop Berkeley. MacLaurin was also one of the early proponents of Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh, having campaigned for building an astronomical observatory, as well as raising funds for this project (totalling £285 in 1748!).

 

Colin Maclaurin (1698–1746).

Colin Maclaurin (1698–1746).

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Apr 172016
 

St John’s Hill, 10 Viewcraig Gardens, Edinburgh EH8 9UQ

The James Hutton Memorial Garden

Hidden away just off the Pleasance is the Hutton Memorial Garden, on the site of the house where James Hutton lived till his death in 1797. it incorporates stones from localities that were important in the development of Hutton’s geological theories. Hutton believed that the continents were being slowly ground down and carried to the sea to be deposited as sand and mud. The internal heat of the earth then consolidated these deposits and raised them up to form new land. Hutton believed this cycle  continued indefinitely, leaving ‘no vestige of a beginning, no prospect of an end’.

James Hutton (1726–97).

James Hutton (1726–97).

Hutton's famous unconformity, Jedburgh.

Hutton’s famous unconformity, Jedburgh. Two layers of rocks can be seen lying at different angles one on top of the other.

Plaque in the Hutton Memorial Garden.

Plaque in the Hutton Memorial Garden.

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Apr 172016
 

22-26 George Street, Edinburgh EH2 2PQ

The Royal Society of Edinburgh

The Royal Society of Edinburgh was set up in imitation of the Royal Society of London in 1783. It has been at its present location since 1909, having originally met in the college library of the University of Edinburgh. Its fellows have included such illustrious names as John Clerk Maxwell, Roderick Murchison, James Watt and Sir Walter Scott, who was its third president. Although originally scientific in orientation, it now accepts many famous names from the arts and humanities. The Society still continues its work of promoting original research in Scotland today.

Free public access to the foyer. Tours of the rest of the building may sometimes be available on request at the reception, depending on the availability of staff.

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