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History marks milestone of 300 years of study

The Chancellor, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal has visited the University for the launch of celebrations to mark 300 years of history teaching at Edinburgh.

This year is the tercentenary of the appointment of Charles Mackie as Professor of Universal History – the first chair of its kind in Scotland.

History at Edinburgh – which began teaching courses drawing on other related subjects such as Classics and Archaeology in 1719 – is one of the largest and most diverse in the UK.

Royal visit

The Chancellor met staff, students and alumni at an event at the Playfair Library on Tuesday 22 October.

The occasion celebrated the achievements of History, Classics and Archaeology and how the disciplines are taught and regarded today.

Celebrating achievements

The celebration included a showcase of some artefacts from the archaeology and osteoarchaeology collection. And a student-curated exhibition of items from the Scottish Enlightenment.

There was also a focus on how philanthropy supports scholarships and Professorial Chairs, including the Leventis Chair and the Fennell, McFarlane and Arbuthnott scholars.

The Chancellor unveiled a plaque to mark the anniversary of the appointment of Professor Charles Mackie. Among his pupils was William Robertson, the famous Enlightenment historian, after whom the building housing History is named.

International links

A programme of events has been organised to reflect on History’s achievements and consider what the future holds for the field.

An Edinburgh delegation will hold events in New York City in November to showcase the University’s academic excellence in History and encourage new partnerships.

A panel discussion – on the subject is history a thing of the past? – will focus on the value and purpose of studying history during periods of political uncertainty and rapid technological change.

Other tercentenary celebrations include a series of seminar style events on the theme of Charles  Mackie. Retrospect - a student-led undergraduate journal at the School of History, Classics and Archaeology – is producing a commemorative issue.  

People are at the heart of history. We are delighted to celebrate this significant anniversary and the input of the students, staff, alumni and partners who’ve played a part in our activities over the years. With its strong local and international connections, teaching and research record, History, Classics and Archaeology at Edinburgh have all the ingredients to build on their achievements of the last three hundred years.

Ewen CameronSir William Fraser Professor of Scottish History and Paleography

History, Classics and Archaeology