Royal Scottish Society of Arts

The Royal Scottish Society of Arts is a learned society in Scotland, dedicated to the study of science and technology. It was founded as The Society for the Encouragement of the Useful Arts in Scotland by Sir David Brewster in 1821 and dedicated to "the promotion of invention and enterprise". The Society was granted a Royal Charter in 1841.


For many years the promotion of invention and improvements of all sorts was the main business of the Society, and its meetings were the focus of a large and active cross-section of Edinburgh society - academics, gentry, professionals such as civil engineers and lawyers, and skilled craftsmen such as instrument makers, engravers and printers. The Society's published Transactions provide a record of changes in technology, and the Society's archive is held by the National Library of Scotland, and is a valuable resource to researchers.

In more recent times, the Society's meeting programme has been based on lectures given by expert and often distinguished speakers. The lectures cover a wide range of scientific and technical topics, and still with the original aim of keeping the membership informed about current concerns in science, engineering, medicine, and often with a topical edge.

Meetings of the Society are held in Edinburgh monthly, at 7pm on Monday evenings, from October or November to May or June. In addition, organised visits are made each year to a research, manufacturing or industrial establishment.

Presidents of the SocietyEdit

Presidents of the society have been:[1]


The society awards the Makdougall Brisbane medal, founded by Sir Thomas Makdougall Brisbane.[2] This award is not to be confused with the similarly named award given by the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Recipients have included:


Coat of arms of Royal Scottish Society of Arts
Granted 11 May 1978
The head of the goddess Athena contournée helmeted Proper.
Sable and Or.
Or between two eagle owls heads affrontée Proper a torch Sable paleways enflamed Gules on a chief Azure a saltire Argent all within a bordure Ermine.
Dexter a scientist and sinister an artisan both in the habit of the early 19th century the former bearing in his dexter hand a balance and the latter in his sinister hand a perpendiculum. [6]
Pro Scientia Et Arte

External linksEdit


  1. ^ "Past Presidents". Royal Scottish Society of Arts. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  2. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica: 11th Edition.
  3. ^ "Story: Beverly, Arthur". Te Ara. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  4. ^ "'Harnessing the winds': Professor James Blyth, pioneer of renewable energy". stratharchives. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  5. ^ "Sir Thomas Brisbane Special". Australasian Planetarium Society. 10 April 2016. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  6. ^ "Royal Scottish Society of the Arts". Heraldry of the World. Retrieved 11 September 2021.