7 - Canongate Kirkyard/Adam Smith's Grave

7 - Canongate Kirkyard/Adam Smith's Grave

After the disruption of the Reformation had settled, Scottish society was next gripped by the ideas of the Enlightenment imported from the continent. Scottish thinkers like David Hume, Robert Burns, and, buried in the Canongate Kirkyard, Adam Smith, were key figures in an intellectual conflagration which spanned Europe.

Adam Smith was born in Kirkcaldy, across the river Forth, and, culminating in his most well-known work, 'The Wealth of Nations', he laid the intellectual foundations for the Capitalist economy of today. He espoused the values of free trade and personal liberty which form the basis of our World Order.

One of Scotland's most eminent children, his thinking was also very European - influenced by figures of the early Enlightenment, he in essence invented the modern discipline of economics. His academic career began at the university here in Edinburgh, and he later toured Europe, meeting Voltaire, the great Enlightenment philosopher, who, incidentally, is reputed to have said, 'We look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilisation'...

Smith's work, or, more accurately, criticism of the application of the principles he described and set out, is essentially the key battleground in politics today - the extent to which the market should be regulated.

Walking pensively through the graveyard, one is struck too  by the common occurrence of European surnames, even on this 18th-19th Century site - immigration and integration have been strands of Edinburgh's rich tapestry for centuries.

As one trundles down the Royal Mile, passing first John Knox's house, and now Adam Smith's grave, one sees, then, that the intellectual infrastructure for which Scotland is famous, and which defines the Scottish identity, is steeped in European context.