The life and times of Chirnside’s world-famous “son”, philosopher David Hume, were celebrated in the village on Saturday, 300 years after his birth.
Described by the Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy as the “most important philosopher ever to write in English”, David Hume was born in Edinburgh on April 26, 1711 (according to the old Scots calendar) and died, aged 65, on August 25, 1776.
He spent his childhood at Ninewells Farm, Chirnside, (currently owned by Bill Dunn) and returned there after attending university in Edinburgh, and spending some time in France.
Three hundred years after Hume’s birth, Chirnside celebrated the tercentenary of its world-famous son with a free exhibition entitled ‘The Life and Times of David Hume 1711-1776’, which was held at the community centre, telling the story of the life and controversial ideas of the famous philosopher.
A philosophy festival was then staged in Chirnside on Saturday, aiming to engage villagers and visitors of all ages in “Britain’s greatest philosopher”. Philosophers Dr Peter Millican of Oxford University and Dr Alasdair Richmond of Edinburgh University were on hand to open up Hume’s thoughts on human nature, knowledge and morality, and the philosopher’s biographer, Roderick Graham, author of The Great Infidel, was also in attendance.
The celebrations continued with an Enlightenment evening at Paxton House on Saturday evening, which consisted of a Paxton House Tour and Georgian Banquet followed by talks on ’David Hume & The Borders’ and ‘Borderers who changed the World - James Hutton’.
Back in Chirnside, as part of the celebrations, 30 Chirnside Primary School pupils performed a philosophy play called “Unanswerable Questions”, co-written with their drama teacher Eloner Crawford, and starring deputy head Scott Brodie as David Hume, while a new David Hume essay prize for Borders high school pupils, praising the Enlightenment virtues of free thinking and debate, was awarded to the Borders’ “next great thinker”.
Other attractions throughout the week included a new specially brewed David Hume beer, aptly named ‘Enlightenment’ which was being served in Chirnside’s Red Lion and Waterloo Arms, and in the Allanton Inn and The Craw in Auchencrow,
To mark the end of a successful week of celebrations, Scottish Borders Council chief executive, also called David Hume, unveiled a plaque and information panel at the ‘Hole in the Wall’ on Duns Road, marking the village’s connection to the philosopher.