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George Square


George Square in Edinburgh is in the centre of the University of Edinburgh Central Campus. In the centre of the square is a garden and around the square are buildings for learning. The Square and gardens were first laid in 1766. On a number of the walls are plaques of famous students. There are also a number of famous ex-residents who lived in the square.  In the garden there are many benches to site and take time to contemplate the world and read a book. There are Standing Stones. One of which has been carved with a figure as if the stone had been split down the middle and the figure was revealed. George Square is also the centre of the Edinburgh Festival and Fringe every year in August.  

George Square Gardens Edinburgh

George Square

Garden Labyrinth

“The labyrinth is an ancient archetypal pattern dating back more than 4000 years. The design of the Edinburgh Labyrinth is based on the 13th century labyrinth laid in the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France (Notre-Dame d’Chartres or the Cathedral of Notre-Dame). Take the walk from the start follow the path which takes you to the centre and back to the outside.

George Square Labyrinth
George Square Gardens Labyrinth

George Square Garden

Standing Stones

Standing Stones George Square Edinburgh
Stone Carving George Square Gardens
Standing Stone Women in Stone Carving George Square

University of Edinburgh

George Square Plaques

Seven plaques of great people of knowledge on the walls around George Square.  Jane Welsh Carlyle,  Peter Mark Roget, Eric Henry Liddell, Benjamin Rush, Mwalimu Julius K Nyerere, Robert Louis Stevenson and Sorley MacLean.


Jane Welsh Carlyle Plaque

George Square Edinburgh

Memorial Plaque to Jane Welsh Carlyle, 23 George Square, Edinburgh. Jane Welsh was born in Haddington East Lothian 14 January 1801 – 21 April 1866, she is buried in Haddington She Married Thomas Carlyle the essayist.

Jane Welsh Carlyle.JPG

Peter Mark Roget Plaque

George Square Edinburgh  

Peter Mark Roget was born in 1779, he studied at Edinburgh University Medical School and graduated in 1798. He was a brilliant doctor and published papers on tuberculosis and the effects of nitrous oxide as an anaesthetic. At the age of 34 in 1814 he invented the slide rule which was used by students in schools and Universities for many years. He is best known for ‘Roget’s Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases’, the thesaurus was published in 1852. Peter Roget died in 1869 aged 90.

Peter Mark Roget.JPG

Eric Henry Liddell Plaque

George Square Edinburgh

Eric Henry Liddell was born in China in 1902 a son of a missionary. Eric Liddell was educated in a boarding school in Blackheath and spent his childhood there will his parents were in China. At the age of 18 he enrolled in Edinburgh University were his brother was already studying. Eric Liddell lived for a short time in Gillespie Crescent before moving to a house in Merchiston Place. While in Edinburgh he lived firstly in Gillespie Crescent before moving to Merchiston Crescent. He was a very good athlete and played Rugby and took part in track events for both the University and Scotland. He took part in the Paris Olympics and won a Gold in the 400 and a bronze in the 200.  After graduating from Edinburgh University he returned to China and his last years he was interned in Weihsien prison camp which was a Japanese- internment camp created during World War II to hold civilians of Allied countries living in North China where he died. The Eric Liddell Centre at Holy Corner in Edinburgh is where Eric Liddell attended Church.

Eric Liddell Olymic Champion University of Edinburgh

Benjamin Rush Plaque

George Square Edinburgh

Benjamin Rush Graduate of Edinburgh University Medical School 1768 at 22 years old, signatory of the American Declaration of Independence, Leader of the American Enlightenment, founder of Dickinson College (private, residential liberal arts college in Carlisle, Pennsylvania) the first college to be founded after the formation of the United States of America. He was also at the age of 23 the first professor of chemistry in America. 

Benjamin Rush 

Benjamin Rush was born in 1746 in Pennsylvania U.S.A. Benjamin Rush lived with his uncle Reverend Dr. Samuel Finley ensured Benjamin Rush received an education. Benjamin Rush went to the College of New Jersey which is now called Princeton in 1759. In 1766 at the age of 20 Benjamin Rush moved to Edinburgh to study at the University of Edinburgh Medical School which was the most respected in the world. Benjamin Rush graduated with a degree in medicine in 1768. Benjamin Rush set up the Philadelphia Dispensary in 1786 to provide medical care for the poor which was the first institution of its kind in the United States. Benjamin Rush was not just a doctor but a person that wanted to change the world, to give justice and equality to all. The Declaration of Independence was adopted by the second continental congress on July 4th, 1776 Benjamin Rush signed the final document of the Declaration of Independence with other members on August 2 1776.

Benjamin Rush USA declaration of Independence

Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Plaque

George Square Edinburgh

Mwalimu Julius Nyerere First President of the United Republic of Tanzania was known as Mwalimu’ or ‘Teacher’ in Swahili. He was President from the country’s founding in 1964, until his retirement in 1985. Mwalimu Julius Nyerere received a scholarship to the University of Edinburgh in 1949 and became the first Tanzanian to study at a British university and only the second to gain a university degree outside Africa. He died in 1999 at the age of 77 years.

Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Presedent Tanzania University of Edinburgh Graduate

Robert Louis Stevenson Plaque

George Square Edinburgh

Robert Louis Stevenson was from Edinburgh a poet and author of many famous books known around the world and made into movies. Born in Howard Place into a famous family that has left a mark all over Britain on the land and in the sea.  Joined University of Edinburgh at the age of 17 and studied law, which he did not practice, rather to write instead. The plaque in George Square Edinburgh reads; in honour of Robert Louis Stevenson 1850-1894 Poet, author of Treasure Island, Kidnapped, Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde, alumnus of the University.

Robert Louis Stevenson Plaque George Square

Sorley MacLean Plaque George Square Edinburgh

Sorley MacLean was born in 1911 on the Isle of Raasay he studied English at Edinburgh University and achieved a first class degree and graduated in 1934 before returning home to Raasay.  He was named the University’s first Alumnus of the Year in 1990 and later died in 1996. The plaque in George Square reads; in honour of Sorley MacLean 1911-1996 Gaelic poet and man of letters, graduate of the University.

Sorley MacLean George Square.JPG

Home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle George Square Edinburgh

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a strong believer in the afterlife. Arthur Conan Doyle lived at 23 George Square Edinburgh a few doors up from where Sir Walter Scott lived with his parents.

Arthur Conan Doyle lived here
Arthur Conan Doyle Plaque

George Watson’s

Ladies College

George Square Edinburgh

George Watson left a sum of money to The Merchant Company of Edinburgh in 1723 to educated less fortunate children of Edinburgh. George Watson was born in Edinburgh in 1654. The first school opened in 1741 for boys only.  George Watson’s Ladies’ College was opened for girls in Admiral Duncan’s House in George Square in 1871. The schools were amalgamated in 1974 and the present school is in Colinton Road where both girls and boys are educated equally.

George Watson's Lady's College George Square Edinburgh

Sir Walter Scott's Childhood Home

George Square which at the time was outside the city walls was where Sir Walter Scott lived. Number 25 George Square Edinburgh was where he spent his childhood with his parents from the age of 3 until he married at age 26.

Sir Walter Scott. Childhood Home Edinburgh
Walter Scott Plaque George Square Edinburgh

St Albert’s Catholic Chaplaincy

The Dominican Priory opened in Edinburgh in 24 George Square in 1931 and were appointed as Catholic Chaplains to the students and staff at the University of Edinburgh and to the Catholic Professional Guilds of the City of Edinburgh. The plaque on the wall above the door is of Saint Albert. His name was Albertus Magnus born circa 1190.

Catholic Chaplains to the students and staff at the University of Edinburgh Church George Square
Catholic Chaplains to the students and staff at the University of Edinburgh Church George Square

Swedish Runic Stone. “Swedish Runestone”,

This ancient (11th Century Viking) Standing Stone has been a part of Edinburgh circa 1780 when Sir Alexander Seton of East Lothian donated it to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland In 1785. The Stone would have been from their Castle estate in Sweden. Lilla Ramsjö, Vittinge, Uppland, Sweden  The Seton family a very wealthy and powerful family of East Lothian purchased Ekolsund Castle in Enköping Sweden from Gustav III who had used it as a Royal Residence until he sold it to the Seton's in 1912. The Stone has stood in Princes Street Gardens below the Esplanade since circa 1820.   

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