I had the good fortune of traveling to Edinburgh, Scotland recently, and while I was there I decided to track down the grave of one of my favorite modern European philosophers, David Hume. I learned that his grave was located on Calton Hill, near the end of the Royal Mile and Scottish Parliament. Even so, I had a bit of an adventure trying to find it. At first, I thought it was somewhere in the Canongate Church graveyard, but failing to find it there I wandered down the rest of the Royal Mile to the cemetery that I could see was on the side of Calton Hill. I saw a circular tower that was a possible candidate.
Yet as I walked up through the cemetery I found that Hume’s grave was not there, though there is a stunning view of Arthur’s Seat, an outcrop of rock that shot out of the side of a volcano long ago.
I decided to walk the rest of the way up Calton Hill, which had beautiful views of the city.
As I rounded the hill, I spotted a cemetery that I had missed, tucked away down the hill.
I ran down the hill and the stairs to Princes Street, and found the gate to the Old Calton Cemetery. I was greeted by a plaque that told me it was here!
There, next to a monument to Abraham Lincoln and the Scottish soldiers who lost their lives in the American Civil War, was Hume’s mausoleum.
Here is a map showing the site of the grave:
The next morning, I decided to walk back to the grave and hill before I left Edinburgh on my travels. As I walked back up the Royal Mile from North Bridge, I found that some drunken Saturday night reveler had placed a cone atop Hume’s skeptical head. I would like to think he would have appreciated the joke.
August 26, 2015 at 1:31 pm
How lovely that you got to go! Isn’t it a wonderful city? It really got to me more than many others have. And I’m glad you found his grave, I thought it very fitting that a monument to Lincoln was nearby. I went on a Hume trip to Edinburgh last year, and had a glorious time.
Fun fact: Hume was one of those who caused Calton Hill to become a public park, and Hume’s Walk was the first walking-path to be built there
August 26, 2015 at 9:04 pm
It is indeed a wonderful city, and I am thankful for the tips on what to see and where to go. When I got to the top of Calton Hill, I was happy to see the sign with Hume’s picture, but frustrated that the sign did not show where Hume’s grave was, even though it was nearby. Going to Calton Hill for the views is a must.