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The Greatest Scottish Inventions Of All Time

For such a small country, Scotland has produced some of the greatest minds the world has ever known. Their inventions and discoveries have been responsible for shaping the course of history and defining the modern world. From anaesthetics and adhesive postage stamps, to Penicillin, microwave ovens and Harry Potter, the world as we know it today owes a great debt to Scotland. And since 2017 is the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, we thought we’d pay homage to the greatest Scottish (and indeed Edinburgh) inventions of all time.

Scottish Inventions in Medicine

Historical medical equipmentPerhaps the greatest Scottish inventions can be found in the field of medicine. And leading the way to the medical hall of fame is Sir Alexander Fleming (1881 – 1955). Not only did he ‘accidently’ discover Penicillin, he also created the vaccine for typhoid, was Knighted for his contributions to medicine and received the Nobel Prize. Edinburgh physician Alexander Wood (1817 – 1884), used the sting of a bee to create the world’s first hypodermic needle in 1853. And Sir James Young Simpson of West Lothian (1811 – 1870), pioneered the use of anaesthetics during surgery and childbirth – despite the fierce opposition he faced by the realm of medicine, religion and politics at the time. To find out more about famous Scottish inventions and discoveries in the field of medicine, be sure to visit Surgeons’ Hall Museums.

Scottish Inventions in Industry

Ancient telephone on a tableFrom advances in medicine to redefining industry, few countries in the world can boast more industry-changing inventions. Edinburgh-born Alexander Graham Bell (1847 – 1922), needs no introduction. By inventing the telephone, he paved the way for selfies and instant messages by revolutionising the way we communicate. James Clerk Maxwell (1831 – 1879), a world renowned theoretical physicist responsible for discovering the theory of electromagnetism, also invented the ‘three colour method’ which resulted in the world’s first colour photograph. East Lothian born-carpenter John Broadwood set about improving the piano’s traditional box design, and so the grand piano was born. And engineer John Logie Baird (1888 – 1946) is credited with inventing the television, and was involved in the development of RADAR during WWII.

Scottish Inventions in Literature

Old parchment and ink potIn a country where innovation is part of history, imagination is rooted in daily life. So it is not surprising that some of our favourite literary characters and popular masterpieces can be traced back to our cobbled streets. Walter Scott, Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle and Ian Rankin are all part of Scotland’s impressive literary stock. And works like Sherlock Holmes, Ebenezer Scrooge, Peter Pan and Harry Potter all got their start in Edinburgh. To find out more about Edinburgh’s impressive literary legacy, we recommend paying the Writers’ Museum a visit.

So there you have it – a few of our favourite Scottish inventions to change the course of history. Since Edinburgh is renowned for its innovative and inventive history, we have barely scratched the surface of great Scottish inventions. To discover more wonderful Edinburgh inventions, book a stay at one of the greatest, most affordable hotels in Edinburgh today.

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