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October 2018

Geographies of the Prime Meridian: Ruling the World – from St Andrews, Paris, Washington5:00 pm - 7:30 pm. Arts BuildingThursday 4 October 2018

Event type: LectureAudience: PublicStaff

Event Details

In this, the Institute of Scottish Historical Research 6th Annual Smout Lecture, University of Edinburgh’s Professor Charles Withers discusses ‘The Prime Meridian’ – the point at which the world’s longitude is set at zero and the calculative origin for measurement of the world’s time and space. Since 1884, we have had only one Prime Meridian, at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. Before then – but also for a long time afterwards – numerous different prime meridians were used. This richly-illustrated lecture examines why and where different prime meridians were employed and to what end.

Professor Charles Withers is Ogilvie Chair in Geography at the University of Edinburgh and Geographer Royal for Scotland. He was educated at the Universities of St Andrews and Cambridge and has been at Edinburgh since 1994. His research interests focus on the historical geographies of science; exploration, instrumentation and publication; the geography of the Enlightenment; and the history of cartography. His books include Geography, Science and National Identity: Scotland since 1520 (Cambridge 2001); Placing the Enlightenment: Thinking Geographically about the Age of Reason (Chicago 2007); Travels into Print (Chicago 2015); Zero Degrees (Harvard, 2017); and, co-authored with Chris Fleet and Margaret Wilkes in more popular vein, Scotland: Mapping the Nation (2011) and Scotland: Mapping the Islands (2016).

Presented by Professor Charles Withers, for more information contact Dr Malcolm Petrie (


(Thursday) 5:00 pm - 7:30 pm