Philosophical Geocaching Part III: Hume, continued Posted on January 11th, 2011 by

Here, as promised, is the story of David Hume, Nature Boy. Also the story of how even in Edinburgh, the City that Loves its Philosophers, the truly devoted philosophical tourist will have to do some bushwhacking (verbal bushwhacking, if not the whacking of any actual bushes) in order to find all the Hume-related points of interest. And of how, when all is said and done, one will still fail to find all those points of interest and will go home having missed the grave memorial.

The scene: Lisa and her amiable colleague and traveling companion Phil decide to hop on one of the ubiquitous Edinburgh tour buses, just to get a sense of the shape of the city. Our “guides” turned out to be two goofballs on tape, telling predictable jokes and cracking wise about each other. My ears pricked up, though, when we passed underneath Calton Hill, and learn that one of the monuments on the hill is dedicated to David Hume.

Or so I thought they said. So, I dutifully trudged up Calton Hill one day when it wasn’t raining very much, and I dutifully inspected the signage next to each of the several large, imposing, commemorative monuments on the hill. (Replica of Parthenon? Check. Nelson Monument? Check. Monument to Dugald Stewart? Check. Hume Memorial? Sorry, no; but have you seen that replica of the Parthenon?) What I did learn, however, was that the walkway winding among the monuments was named “Hume Walk,” in honor of the fact that the park—the first public green space in the city—came into existence thanks to the good offices of Mr. Causality. Who knew he was such a greenie?

Photo by Jonathan Oldenbuck at

Enlightened but disappointed, I trudged, damply down the hill, harrumphing over those damned tour bus guides who get me all excited about a Hume monument that doesn’t even exist.

Except that it does. And I must have walked past it a million times. Turns out that, there’s a place called the  Old Calton Cemetery, where,  you guessed it, our boy Davey is buried, in a monument that is apparently in pathetically decaying condition. Hume, described often as an atheist, is buried in a non-denominational cemetery.

A non-denominational cemetery directly across the street from the hotel where I stayed for a week.


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