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Patron: Her Majesty the Queen


The Royal Scottish Society of Arts
Showcasing Scotland's Science, Technology and Innovation

5th Meeting of the 179th Session (1999-2000)

Building Stones of Edinburgh

Andrew McMillan
Principal Geologist
British Geological Survey

at the Royal Medical Society's Rooms,
Student Centre (1st Floor), Bristo Square, Edinburgh
on Monday 21st February 2000 at 7pm

The City of Edinburgh, once described by R L Stevenson as 'a dream in masonry and living rock', beautifully displays the varied use of indigenous stone against a spectacular volcanic backdrop. Endowed with some of the finest sandstone resources in Britain, the City fed on these local materials as the principal construction stone well into the 19th century before demand exceeded supply and the improvement in transport encouraged the tapping of sources from further afield. Few cities provide such a striking lesson on the influence of geological characteristics on the local architecture.

This is less evident in today's modern stone-clad buildings, but both old and new offer and outdoor laboratory in which to discover both good and inappropriate uses of natural stone.

Following the 20th century decline, a reawakening of the benefits of using natural stone has stimulated the recent establishment of the Scottish Stone Liaison Group. Appropriately initiated in the Capital, this representative body is seeking to promote available Scottish indigenous resources together with appropriate research. It is essential to ensure that the skills to work and make best use of natural stone within the local architectural setting are not lost in the technological stampede of the 21st century.

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