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Edinburgh, High Street, Adam Smith Statue

Statue (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Edinburgh, High Street, Adam Smith Statue

Classification Statue (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Royal Mile; St Giles Cathedral

Canmore ID 306324

Site Number NT27SE 6084

NGR NT 25780 73610

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Digital Images


Administrative Areas

  • Council Edinburgh, City Of
  • Parish Edinburgh (Edinburgh, City Of)
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District City Of Edinburgh
  • Former County Midlothian


Project (1997)

The Public Monuments and Sculpture Association ( set up a National Recording Project in 1997 with the aim of making a survey of public monuments and sculpture in Britain ranging from medieval monuments to the most contemporary works. Information from the Edinburgh project was added to the RCAHMS database in October 2010 and again in 2012.

The PMSA (Public Monuments and Sculpture Association) Edinburgh Sculpture Project has been supported by Eastern Photocolour, Edinburgh College of Art, the Edinburgh World Heritage Trust, Historic Scotland, the Hope Scott Trust, The Old Edinburgh Club, the Pilgrim Trust, the RCAHMS, and the Scottish Archive Network.

Field Visit (25 August 2008)

Standing bronze figure of Adam Smith in 18th century dress and a Glasgow University gown. Behind him is a plough (modelled from a contemporary plough in the Scottish Farming Museum) to remind us of the agrarian economics which Smith supplanted. In front of him to his right is a beehive, a symbol of the industry on which Smith believed progress was made; topped by a globe on which he rests his right hand. His hand is hidden by his academic gown to signify his belief in the "invisible hand" that guides the economy. Smith's wig is based on one of George Washington's, and his neckwear modelled on that worn by Thomas Jefferson, to symbolise Smith's strong support for free trade with America.

In March 2003 the Adam Smith Institute contacted the City of Edinburgh Council about the poor state of Adam Smith's tomb in Canongate Churchyard. During discussions, the idea of erecting a statue was raised. In May 2003 the Adam Smith Institute commissioned Alexander Stoddart to look into the viability of the project. In August 2003 Dr Eamonn Butler of the Adam Smith Institute wrote to the Lord Provost of Edinburgh to formally propose the statue. In October 2003 at a meeting between Dr Butler, Alexander Stoddart and relevant members of the City of Edinburgh Council, a site in the Royal Mile was granted. In January 2004 Baroness Thatcher wrote to endorse the project, and other pledges of support were received. In February 2004 Alexander Stoddart produced the initial clay model, and in September 2005 he completed the clay working model which would be scaled up to produce the final version. In July 2006 the full-size clay model was converted into the full-size plaster cast by specialist mould-makers Mike and Caroline Crofton. In October 2006 the plaster cast, cut into manageable pieces, was transported to the foundry Morris Singer; and in December 2006 the plaster casts were converted into wax impressions. In February 2007 work on the mould-making was underway at the foundry. In March 2007 building warrants were received from the City of Edinburgh Council, and stonemason David Lindsay was commissioned to create the pedestal using Stanton Moor sandstone from Stoke Hall Quarry.

The statue was finally placed on its pedestal on 30 June 2008, and was unveiled by Nobel prize-winning economist Vernon Smith on 4 July 2008.

The statue cost £250,000.

[Adam Smith's grave was restored with £10,000 donated by Kirkcaldy-born oil tycoon Bob Lamond. It was unveiled on 9 June 2006]

Adam Smith (1723-1790) born in Kirkcaldy, studied at Glasgow and Oxford universities. From 1748 he became one of the circle in Edinburgh which included David Hume. In 1751 he became Professor of Logic at Glasgow University, then Professor of Moral Philosophy in 1752. In 1759 he published his 'Theory of the Moral Sentiments'. In 1764 he went to France as tutor of Henry Scott, the third Duke of Buccleuch. In 1766 he returned to Kirkcaldy. In 1776 his 'Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations' was published. He died in Edinburgh and was buried in the Canongate Churchyard.

Inscriptions : On front of pedestal (incised letters): ADAM / SMITH

Signatures : None Visible

Design period : 2003-2008

Year of unveiling : 2008

Unveiling details : 4 July 2008. Unveiled by Professor Vernon Smith

Information from Public Monuments and Sculpture Association (PMSA Work Ref : EDIN1468)


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