About Northern Lights

This resource has been designed to focus on the topics relating to the Scottish Enlightenment studied under 'Georgians and Jacobites, 1715-1800' at Advanced Higher.  It provides information about the Scottish Enlightenment by exploring and investigating archive sources from the National Library of Scotland's (NLS) collections.

The resource is divided into five topics which each include seven original sources, including manuscripts, books, maps and pamphlets, and background information about the topic and the sources.

The resource also includes suggested discussion points for each source.  They can be used as the basis for classroom activities and individual research and investigation.

There is also an audio introduction by Professor Alexander Broadie and a section called 'Key People' that includes biographies of people discussed on the resource.

Discussion tool

The discussion tool can be used to add individual comments relating to the discussion points we have suggested for each source, or your own observations or questions about it.  To add a comment, simply click 'add a new topic'.

Please note that comments are moderated by the Learning Team at National Library of Scotland.  The views contained in comments are solely those of the individual made them and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Library of Scotland.

The National Library of Scotland

The National Library of Scotland (NLS) is one of the great libraries of the world, with a collection of around 14 million printed items, 2 million maps, 32,000 films and over 3 miles of manuscripts covering virtually every subject. NLS is the world's leading centre for the study of Scotland and the Scots, and the collections span the centuries from early times to the digital age.  As well as supporting the work of academic researchers, the Library engages visitors of all ages and interests through an ongoing programme of learning activities, exhibitions and events. For more information, please visit the National Library of Scotland website.

NLS holds extensive collections directly related to the Scottish Enlightenment, including:

-          first and subsequent editions of most of the published works of key Enlightenment figures, many of them with illustrations

-          a great number of handwritten letters by its main exponents, in particular by David Hume

-          drafts and proofs of important texts

-          contemporary maps, town plans and other drawings.

We also hold just about all modern books written about the Scottish Enlightenment and its representatives.

If you would like to find out more about a particular item featured in this resource, or if you would like to visit the Library to see the original item, please refer to the shelfmark which is listed with each of the sources. This reference number will help the Library staff to identify the specific item.


All images, text, and audio on this website are in National Library of Scotland copyright, unless we state otherwise, and may be used for non-commercial and educational use.

For any additional use, permission must be obtained from the National Library of Scotland by contacting copyright@nls.uk. See the NLS website copyright page on the NLS website for more information. For enquiries relating to use of images of documents owned by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland please contact  The National Library of Scotland by emailing copyright@nls.uk.

For non-NLS images, please contact the credited organisation or person direct.

Alexander Broadie

Alexander Broadie is Honorary Professorial Research Fellow and Emeritus Professor of Logic and Rhetoric at Glasgow University. He has been a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh since 1991. Professor Broadie holds degrees from the universities of Edinburgh, Oxford, Glasgow and Blaise Pascal (Clermont-Ferrand). Among his many books are 'The Shadow of Scotus: Philosophy and Faith in Pre-Reformation Scotland' (1995), 'The Scottish Enlightenment: The Historical Age of the Historical Nation' (2007) and 'A History of Scottish Philosophy' (2010).

His main task between 2010 and 2013 is as Principal Investigator in the Leverhulme-funded International Network 'Scottish philosophers in seventeenth-century Scotland and France'.