Sciennes Hill House

(Sciennes Hall)

Located in Sciennes House Place off Causewayside in South-Central Edinburgh, the remains of the mid-18th century Sciennes Hill House (also known as Sciennes Hall) lie incorporated into a tenement block. Built in 1741, it was originally the home of Robert Biggar, who lost a fortune as a result of the Darien Scheme. The family fortunes were recovered by his sons, who began a successful linen factory nearby. However, the building is best known as the home of philosopher Adam Ferguson (1723 - 1816). It was at one of his 'literary dinners' held here during the winter of 1786-7 that provided the only occasion at which poet Robert Burns (1759-96) met the young Walter Scott (1771 - 1832), other guests included important figures of the Enlightenment such as philosopher Dugald Stewart (1753 - 1828), geologist James Hutton (1726-97), chemist Joseph Black (1728-99), play-wright John Home (1722 - 1808) and adventurous Italian balloonist Vincenzo Lunardi (1759 - 1806).

The house was partially demolished in 1868 and it is the back of the original house which can be seen from the street today, although the altered front remains visible at the rear. What remains was restored in 1989 and a plaque commemorates the meeting of Burns and Scott.

An old Jewish burial ground lies opposite.

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