Scotlands History

The Scottish Enlightenment

Part of the Europe-wide Age of Reason, the Scottish Enlightenment was an intellectual movement that ranged across the fields of philosophy, chemistry, geology, architecture, poetry, engineering, technology, economics, sociology, medicine and history. 

The 18th century is often described as Scotland’s ‘Golden Age’.

Scottish Enlightenment figures included David Hume, James Hutton, Robert Adam, Joseph Black, James Watt, Alison Rutherford, Adam Smith, Francis Hutcheson, Adam Ferguson and Thomas Reid.

In Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, great thinkers sought to understand the natural world and the human mind.

Today, many historians believe that the ideas and advances that emerged from the Scottish Enlightenment helped to shape the modern world.

  • Painting of Parliament Close, bustling with figures from the 18th century

Click on the image to view a larger version.

Download Adobe Flash Player to listen to the audio online.

Download the latest flash player

Listen to The Flowers of the Forest, played by Rob MacKillop.

Portraits of two men, both wearing white wigs, one in a red and gold coat and one in a black jacket

Scottish Enlightenment

Learn about the intellectual movement of the 18th century which shaped the way we think and live today.