Best birthplace

Share this article

1: BIRTHPLACE OF THE SALTIRE

Flag Heritage Centre, Athelstaneford, East Lothian

01368 863 239 www.st-andrew.org.uk

Legend has it that in AD823 the outnumbered Scots armies, pursued by a large Angle and Saxon force, prayed for divine intervention in battle. Clouds formed a white St Andrew’s Cross above them, prompting their leader, King Angus, to vow that if victorious, the saint would become the patron saint of Scotland. Angus won and, under his grandson Kenneth MacAlpine’s leadership, his promise was honoured.

2: BIRTHPLACE OF THE OS MAP

Edinburgh Castle

0131-225 9846, www.edinburghcastle.gov.uk

William Roy was a skilled engineer who in the 1740s and 1750s undertook the first scale mapping of Scotland in response to the Jacobite rebellion. Based in Edinburgh Castle, Roy worked with artist Paul Sandy to create detailed surveys that would give the strategic edge to troops. To see his maps online visit www.nls.uk/maps.

3: BIRTHPLACE OF THE AMERICAN NAVY

John Paul Jones Museum, Arbigland, Dumfries

01387 880 613, www.jpj.demon.co.uk

Known as the father of the US navy in America, but seen as a pirate by the British, John Paul Jones remains a controversial character in history. His career took him from the small village of Arbigland, to naval commander fighting against the British in the Wars of Independence. Later, he became a “Chevalier” in the French navy and even an admiral for the Imperial Russian navy.

4: BIRTHPLACE OF LOGARITHMS

Merchiston Castle, Edinburgh

Alexander Napier, born at the castle in 1550, invented logarithms, popularised the use of the decimal point and created a complex calculating instrument. Known as the “Scottish Galileo” by some, Napier’s many talents resulted in designs for bulletproof clothing, a crude tank and a submarine. The castle or tower now forms part of Napier University’s campus.

5: BIRTHPLACE OF THE ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA

Edinburgh Printer Colin Macfarquhar and engraver Andrew Bell decided to begin an encyclopedia that would bring together a “Society of Gentlemen” to create a reference work covering the Sciences and Arts. The publication was a best-seller in 1771 and attracted contributions from major Enlightenment figures. Events celebrating 500 years of printing in Scotland will take place throughout 2008. See www.500yearsofprinting.org