Sep 192017
 

The MeadowsMelville Dr, Edinburgh EH9 9EX

This large public park used to be a lake known as the South Loch until the early eighteenth century. The loch provided much of the city’s drinking water until 1621, when the first piped water supply was established. Its draining and conversion into a park by Sir Thomas Hope in 1722 is a good example of the Enlightenment enthusiasm for ‘improvement’. Later in the century it became a favourite place for James Hutton, the geologist, Adam Smith, the economist, and Joseph Black, the chemist, to take a stroll and discuss the latest ideas in science and philosophy.

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Friends of the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links – History and Archaeology

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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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Apr 172016
 

8-12 Niddry Street South, Edinburgh, EH1 1NS

The Oyster Club This weekly dining club for scientists and philosophers met regularly throughout the 1770s. It had been established by the great economist and political philosopher Adam Smith, the chemist Joseph Black and the geologist James Hutton. The club was attended by a veritable constellation of Edinburgh’s most brilliant thinkers, including John Playfair, Adam Ferguson, David Hume and Sir James Hall. It also payed host to a wide variety of visiting international scientists, including the French geologist Barthélémy Faujas de Saint Fond, James Watt the engineer and inventor from Glasgow, and Benjamin Franklin the American scientist and inventor.

Now a private venue – no free public access.

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Mar 082016
 

13 Sylvan Place, Edinburgh EH9 1LH

Joseph Black's house

Up an alleyway here you will find the house where the great chemist Joseph Black lived in around 1740. To get to the university from here Black only had to walk across the Meadows, where he often took a stroll with his friends the economist and political philosopher Adam Smith and the geologist James Hutton. Among his important contributions to chemistry were the discovery of carbon dioxide and latent heat. He discovered the latter principle when he observed that applying heat to boiling water produces more steam, but does not raise its temperature above its boiling point.

No public access.

 

Portrait of Joseph Black (1728–99).

Commemorative plaque on Joseph Black’s house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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