Edinburgh World Heritage - Edinburgh City of Genius

Edinburgh City of Genius

Join Georgian Edinburgh's best sedan chairmen Jock and Tam, as they take you back over 200 years to a time when Edinburgh was known as a 'hotbed of genius'.

You'll never believe the people they had in back of their sedan chair...

During the 1700s Edinburgh was at the centre of a new spirit of enquiry known as the Scottish Enlightenment.

An English visitor summarised this outburst of pioneering intellectual activity by remarking: "Here I stand at what is called the Cross of Edinburgh, and can, in a few minutes, take 50 men of genius and learning by the hand."

Scientists, philosophers, artists, poets, ministers of the church, and geologists challenged traditional views and in the process laid the foundation for the modern world. They wanted improvement through new ideas, discoveries and inventions and sought to understand the natural world and the human mind.

Many of the leading lights of the Enlightenment were close friends, and regularly met to eat, drink and debate. They started clubs and societies where they could socialise, discuss and exchange ideas.The Poker Club for example in 1776 included philosophers David Hume and Adam Ferguson, economist Adam Smith, chemist Joseph Black and William Robertson the Principal of the University of Edinburgh.

Their discoveries and new thinking built the foundations of a modern way of life. In just a few streets, new ways of thinking had emerged which would go on to change the world. Edinburgh truly was a city of genius and the world would never be the same again.

Download Edinburgh City of Genius (PDF | 4MB)

Teacher? Send an email to info@ewht.org.uk with your school's address and we will post some copies for your class.


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