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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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
 

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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