Dugald Stewart Monument, Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland

This evening, I am continuing with my theme of the Scottish Enlightenment. This was a time of intense intellectual activity across a wide range of academic disciplines which spanned the period 1730-1790. Noteworthy participants were Sir Walter Scott (novelist), Robert Adam (architect), David Hume (philosopher), James Hutton (geologist) and Henry Home (judge and agrarian improver).  As a result of the new learnings Scotland was able to move forward with improved agriculture, new industries and new sciences.

Dugald Stewart (1753-1828) was one of the last great Enlightenment thinkers. He was an academic at the University of Edinburgh whose career comprised:

  • First: Professor of Mathematics, a post which he shared with his father.
  • Second: Held Chair of Moral Philosophy for over thirty years.

Stewart was an eloquent and influential lecturer whose teachings were based on the Scottish intellectual tradition of ‘common sense’ philosophy. His reputation was such that he was able to attract students from England, mainland Europe and North America.

As a result of Stewart’s standing two memorials were erected in Edinburgh after his death:

  • The mausoleum (below) can be found in Canongate Kirkyard towards the bottom of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile.
  • The monument (above) dates from 1831. It was sponsored by the Royal Society of Edinburgh and designed by famous architect, William Henry Playfair. Like many of the structures on Calton Hill, above Edinburgh, the Stewart Monument was inspired by the architecture of ancient Greece. In this particular case, the design is modelled on the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates in Athens and comprises a circular temple of nine fluted Corinthian columns.

Dugald Stewart Mausoleum, Canongate Kirkyard, Edinburgh, Scotland

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