|This is the section of Grayfriars where Hutton is buried, the|
plaque shown below is the white rectangle in the middle left.
Photos in this post by G. Lopez
During Hutton's time in Edinburgh, industry, commerce, agriculture, science, and the arts flourished. David Hume (philosopher, historian), Adam Smith (economist), and Joseph Black (chemist) prospered during this time. And, it was here in Edinburgh that the landowner, farmer, agriculturalist, physician, and natural philosopher, Hutton, founded our modern science of geology.
Why was Hutton so important? At the time of Hutton, many natural scientists believed that all rocks were formed underwater, the so-called "Neptunist" school of thought, championed by Abraham Gottlob Werner. Hutton’s ideas about the evolution of the earth required long times, the so-called “deep time” popularized by John McPhee in 1980. He also introduced and rigorously pursued the idea of “falsification” of ideas in science: that conjectures should be posed in a way that leads to verifiable predictions, and in a way that can be tested as false. Without Hutton’s work, Darwin’s work in the next century would have been impossible. In fact, Hutton had recognized natural selection as a “beautiful contrivance”, more than a half century before Darwin.
For a geologist like myself, a visit Edinburgh feels rather like a pilgrimage, especially when undertaken on Easter Weekend! Here, nearly in the midst of Edinburgh and all within walking distance, are three sites of special interest--Hutton's "section," Hutton's "rock," and Hutton's grave. Locating and getting to these sites, however, turned out to not be trivial task.
|The only sign in the vicinity of Hutton's section and|
*Additional references: Lothian Geology, An Excursion Guide, A.D. McAdam and E.N.K. Clarkson, published by the Edinburgh Geological Society, 1960 and updated and reprinted in 1996. We got this book at the Carson Clark Gallery (a map center) and the owner claims that a few years ago he bought up all few hundred copies that were still in existence!)
*James Hutton, The Founder of Modern Geology, by D.B. Mcintyre and A. McKirdy, a revised and amended addition published in 2001 by the National Museums of Scotland.