(That's me above in the hat visiting Berlin with my sister.)
With over 900 years of history Edinburgh is, and always has been, a living, breathing city full of ordinary people going about their everyday lives. How did they live and why did the city grow from a tiny settlement into one of Europe's most visited capitals? Using Edinburgh’s social history and cultural identity, along with its urban development and industrial heritage, I uncover the history of the city itself.
Unlike most historical artefacts, which are buried in museums and archives, the city's built environment is free for anyone to look at, at any time. As the physical manifestation of a society’s past Edinburgh's streets and buildings can tell you a lot about its history. Once you know what you're looking at you will begin to see the city in a whole new light.
George Heriots 17th century Jacobean school in the foreground. The spire of the Victorian Royal Infirmary behind to the left. The sleek 21st century Quartermile mixed office and residential development in the centre background. Each can tell us so much about the era it was built in and the society who built it.
I really enjoy researching and studying Edinburgh’s social and urban development and sharing my discoveries with others. Not just with Edinburgh’s many visitors but also with its new and long-term local residents. I've had some really interesting discussions on tour so I particularly enjoy it when guests share their experiences, memories and thoughts about Edinburgh in return.
"One might regard architecture as history arrested in stone."
Other Things I Do...
In 2021 I provided free guided history walks as part of Abbeyhill's Colony of Artists 16th Annual Arts Festival weekend. The tours looked at the history of Abbeyhill over the 19th century, specifically its 'colony' housing and relationship with the industrial heritage of the area, and were a great chance for me to contribute to my local community.
Before the pandemic I guided the Doors Open Day tours at the fabulous Assembly Rooms, in Edinburgh's George Street. In 2020, I provided the research and narration for a series of video shorts that look at the 230-year-old building's social history. Watch the short introduction below or view the complete collection.
I also volunteer at the Museum of Edinburgh in their courtyard of architectural fragments, something I started doing when I was a student. The courtyard is a bit of a hidden gem and most people stumble across it by accident, but its collection of stone carvings contain examples covering over 500 years.
The Museum is free to visit and, in normal circumstances, is open 7 days a week. During 2020 I created the first visitor guides to the Courtyard Collection, a full version and one of selected highlights.