The Allan Ramsay Heritage Trail


01 May 2018
|
Take a step back into the early days of the Scottish Enlightenment in Edinburgh and walk in the footsteps of Allan Ramsay, one of Scotland’s most influential cultural figures.

Take a step back into the early days of the Scottish Enlightenment in Edinburgh and walk in the footsteps of Allan Ramsay, one of Scotland’s most influential cultural figures. 

The Edinburgh Heritage Trail takes you on a short but enlightening journey from the Ramsay monument in Princes Street through the Old Town, to the sites of Ramsay’s home, his shop and library, and his many cultural and social venues.

Ramsay's early years

Born in Leadhills, Lanarkshire, in 1684, Ramsay moved to Edinburgh as an apprentice wigmaker in 1701. In the wake of the Union of 1707, he familiarised himself with literature and began to write in his native language. As a pioneer of an integrated, synthetic Scots, Ramsay was a major influence on Robert Fergusson and Robert Burns. Ramsay then became a bookseller, collaborating with Edinburgh-based printers to publish his own poems.

His play The Gentle Shepherd became a huge success and remains his most celebrated work. Check out the project website for a list of all known performances. (Elsewhere on our website you will also find an introductory video to Ramsay featuring Prof. Murray Pittock).

The Gentle Shepherd has its roots in the surrounding countryside of Edinburgh, particularly the Carlops and Pentlands area, where Ramsay spent time with his friend Sir John Clerk of Penicuik. The nearby Allan Ramsay Hotel, established in 1792, pays homage to the nation’s first Romantic poet, playing host to the annual Allan Ramsay Festival, inaugurated in October 2016.

This trail was developed by Prof. Murray Pittock and Dr. Craig Lamont of the University of Glasgow. ‘Allan Ramsay and Edinburgh in the First Age of Enlightenment’ (PI: Prof. Pittock) was funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh to commence research into the period and to scope the potential for a new edition of Ramsay’s works. Key to this project was the development of an interactive map of eighteenth-century Edinburgh, on which this trail is based.

MORE: Edinburgh buildings you (probably) haven't noticed

Project work

Currently, Pittock and Lamont are working with a wide range of colleagues on the AHRC-funded project ‘The Collected Works of Allan Ramsay’, which will produce a multi-volume edition of Ramsay’s works through Edinburgh University Press.

During this time the team will continue to work alongside the Allan Ramsay Hotel as well as The Hunterian, the National Library of Scotland, the National Trust for Scotland, and the Scottish National Gallery. Why not follow the project on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date?