Palimpsest: Literary Edinburgh

Project outcomes

The Palimpsest project will use natural language processing technology, informed by literary scholars’ input, in order to text mine literary works set in Edinburgh and to visualise the results in accessible ways.

The project will explore the ways in which text mining can be developed through drawing on literary methods, skills and experience and will create a new version of the Edinburgh Geoparser with fine-grained georeferencing. The web resources will be made freely available; the software, dataset and text-mined output will also be released as open access resources. The project team will co-author a series of papers and will conduct project briefings. A programme of imaginative events based around Edinburgh’s literary cityscape will be organised, including writing and storytelling competitions. Palimpsest's innovative and comprehensive mapping of literary place, its generation of a large scale database to underpin that mapping, and its striking and accessible visualisations will furnish professional and voluntary bodies concerned with the city's literary life with a newly enlarged and deepened picture of literary Edinburgh and a new and extensive resource on which to draw.

But Edinburgh is a mad god’s dream

Fitful and dark,

Unseizable in Leith

And wildered by the Forth,

But irresistibly at last

Cleaving to sombre heights

Of passionate imaginging

Till stonily,

From soaring battlements,

Earth eyes Eternity.

Hugh MacDiarmid

Banner image by Bing Liu, map © National Library of Scotland ( and Satellite Imagery © 2012 Google.