New Book | Calton Hill

Posted in books by Editor on October 10, 2019

From Birlinn Ltd:

Kirsten Carter McKee, Calton Hill and the Plans for Edinburgh’s Third New Town (Edinburgh: John Donald, 2018), 224 pages, ISBN: 978-1910900178, £25.

Calton Hill, on the eastern edge of Edinburgh’s centre, has a special relationship with the city. Development of the hill and its surrounding area (often referred to as Edinburgh’s ‘Third New Town’) began in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries by a decision-making elite, who proposed to change the site from a rural periphery into the new urban core of the city. This book shows that the architecture and urban design on Calton Hill was a demonstration of Scotland’s cultural identity and political allegiance to the British State—as key enlightenment figures and theories were celebrated alongside the British naval heroes and the House of Hanover in the early stages of its development. However, as Scotland’s identity within Britain evolved through changes in governance in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Calton Hill—and all that its neo-Greek architecture came to represent—became a metaphor for the friction between Scottish and British Nationalism, resulting in it being considered a ‘Nationalist Shibboleth’ by the last years of the twentieth century. This book considers how the architectural expression of Calton Hill has been perceived, accepted and rejected as ideas surrounding cultural identity, governance and nationalism have changed over the last 200 years.

Kirsten Carter McKee is an architectural historian and cultural landscape specialist. She has a PhD from the University of Edinburgh and has worked for a number of organisations as an archaeologist, historic buildings specialist, and heritage consultant. She is currently a research and teaching fellow in architectural history and conservation at the University of Edinburgh.

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