The phenomenon known as the Enlightenment was Europe-wide and had a dramatic effect on Scotland. It brought about philosophers, writers, scientists and intellectual developments.

Joseph Black

Joseph Black was Professor of Anatomy and Chemistry at Glasgow University, then went on to be Professor of Medicine and Chemistry in Edinburgh. He discovered Carbon Dioxide and was regarded as the Father of Quantitative Chemistry.
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David Hume
Hume is referred to as the most significant
philosopher of the Enlightenment and is still considered one of the greatest thinkers of all time.
He wrote about human nature, politics and introduced social history.
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It was decided that Edinburgh needed a new area in the city to help ease congestion in the Old Town, so a competition was launched to find the winning design. James Craig, a 22 year old architect from the city, won, with his simple grid style plan, the opportunity to design the area to be called the New Town.

James Craig street plan New Town Building plan
James Craig's winning grid design for the New Town New Town Building plan

Edinburgh’s New Town is considered to be a permanent reminder of the Scottish Enlightenment. As Scotland aspired to be a leader during this intellectual era, the New Town was developed to play a key role in establishing Edinburgh as a symbol of refinement and culture.
The architecture was influenced by the wealthy empires of Ancient Greece and Rome in an attempt to make it the’ Athens of the North’. Rich in classical architecture and grace, the New Town attracted a group of affluent middle class people to the area.

Edinburgh New Town

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