History timeline of Edinburgh

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  • A building designed by Robert Adam in Charlotte Square, New Town
    A building designed by Robert Adam in Charlotte Square, New Town
  • Looking up the hill at Edinburgh Castle
    Edinburgh Castle
  • Female marching band performers with flags line up on the Esplanade of Edinburgh Castle
    The Tattoo attracts performers from all around the world
  • The Palace of Holyroodhouse with Arthur's Seat in the background
    The Palace of Holyroodhouse
  • The Sir Walter Scott statue below the Scott Monument, Princes Street
    The Sir Walter Scott statue below the Scott Monument, Princes Street

Follow the history timeline of Edinburgh through from the beginnings of the city, when volcanic activity shaped the rocks, through to the present day with the establishment of the Scottish Parliament and many other new buildings.

Up to 1500 AD

Around 340 million BC - Volcanic activity in Edinburgh creates the rock, which Edinburgh Castle now sits on.

Around 900 BC - First archaeological evidence for human settlement on the castle.

600 - Hill fort defences are visible around Arthur's Seat at Dunsapie Hill.

1020 - Malcolm II permanently annexes Edinburgh to Scotland.

1093 - St Margaret of Scotland dies in the 'Castle of Maidens' in November in Edinburgh.

1128 - Holyrood Abbey was founded in Edinburgh by David I, King of Scotland.

1130 - David I builds a formidable royal castle, Edinburgh Castle, on the rock. It includes a chapel dedicated to his mother Queen Margaret, which still stands.

1296 - The English capture Edinburgh Castle.

1313 - The Scots recapture Edinburgh Castle.

1356 - David II orders the rebuilding of the castle. David's Tower is named after him.

1371 - David II dies in the castle.

1385 - The English burn St Giles Kirk and Edinburgh Town Hall.

1437 - Edinburgh becomes the capital of Scotland in February.

1500 - 1599 AD

1500 - Edinburgh’s population is around 12,000.

1528 - King James V enters Edinburgh with an army, to assert his right to rule. Holyrood Palace is built for him.

1550 - John Napier born in Merchiston Castle, Edinburgh

1558 - A stone cannonball, fired from Mons Meg to celebrate the marriage of Mary Queen of Scots, is found on Wardie Muir (where the Royal Botanic Garden is today), 2 miles away from Edinburgh Castle.

1582 - Edinburgh University is founded.

1600 - 1699

1603 - The headquarters of the Scottish Post Office is set up in Edinburgh with another post office in the Canongate.

1621 - Thatched roofs are banned in Edinburgh, due to the risk of fire.

1633 - Charles I is the last monarch to sleep in Edinburgh Castle, on the night before his coronation as King of Scotland.

1638 - The signing of the Scottish National Covenant takes place in Edinburgh.

1645 - Fearing the spread of plague, Edinburgh Town Council ban all gatherings except weddings and funerals.

1652 - A 'journey coach' is introduced to London, taking passengers between the capitals in two weeks.

1670 - The Botanic Garden is founded.

1677 - The first coffee house opens in the city.

1688 - Canongate Kirk is built.

1700 - 1799

1700 - The population of Edinburgh is around 50,000.

1700 - A fire destroys the larger part of Edinburgh.

1703 - The ''company of quenching of fire'', which resembled a fire brigade, was founded in Edinburgh.

1715 - Jacobites fail to take Edinburgh Castle.

1727 - The Royal Bank of Scotland is founded by royal charter in Edinburgh.

1735 - Golf is played on Bruntsfield Links.

1744 - The world's first golf club, the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, is founded.

1745 - Prince Charles Edward Stuart, known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, fails to capture the castle during the fifth and last Jacobite Rising. This is the castle's last siege.

1748 - Adam Smith begins to deliver public lectures in Edinburgh.

1749 - A stagecoach service opens between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

1759 - The Nor' Loch, now the site of Princes Street Gardens, is drained.

1767 - A competition is held for the best plan to build a new town. The competition is won by James Craig and construction of the New Town begins.

1771 - Walter Scott is born at College Wynd, Edinburgh.

1772 - North Bridge is built.

1776 - Adam Smith publishes Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.

1783 - Walter Scott attends Edinburgh University at the age of 12.

1787 - The Assembly Rooms are built in George Street.

1781 - The Mound road is opened.

1791 - Charlotte Square is built.

1800 - 1899

1801 - The population of Edinburgh is approaching 100,000.

1802 - 1806 - The Bank of Scotland head office is built.

1816 - The Nelson Monument is erected on Calton Hill.

1817 - The Scotsman newspaper is launched.

1818 - Calton Hill observatory is founded by the Edinburgh Astronomical Institution.

1822 - The last public whipping takes place in Edinburgh.

1822 - George IV visits Edinburgh Castle, making him the first ruling sovereign to do so in 189 years.

1824 - Edinburgh Town Council makes a decision to found the Edinburgh Municipal Fire Brigade, the first proper fire brigade in Britain.

1824 - A huge fire breaks out on Old Assembly Close in Edinburgh leaving 400 people homeless.

1826 - Charles Darwin begins studying medicine at Edinburgh University.

1826 - The Royal Scottish Academy is founded.

1827 - Burke and Hare commit their first murder in a spree that would last 12 months.

1829 - Burke and Hare are found guilty of murder and are hanged in Edinburgh.

1829 - The National Monument is erected.

1830 - McVitie & Price Ltd, biscuit makers, are founded and set up on Rose Street.

1833 - John Menzies opens a book shop on Princes Street.

1833 - The city goes bankrupt, partly due to the development of Leith docks.

1841 - Charles Dickens is awarded the Freedom of the City of Edinburgh.

1842 - The Edinburgh to Glasgow railway line is opened to the public.

1846 - The Scott Monument is erected.

1851 - The population of Edinburgh reaches 170,000.

1856 - The burgh of Canongate becomes part of Edinburgh.

1859 - The National Gallery opens.

1861 - The One O'Clock Gun is fired for the first time by electrical arrangement.

1864 - The last public execution takes place in the city of George Bryce, the Ratho murderer.

1867 - The Scotsman newspaper incorporates the Caledonian Mercury.

1869 - Sophia Jex-Blake becomes the first female medical student.

1870 - The Royal Infirmary is built on Lauriston Place.

1870 - Fettes College opens.

1871 - The first international rugby match is played at Edinburgh Academy cricket club. The leading Scottish clubs played their English counterparts, and won by a single goal.

1872 - Greyfriars Bobby dies aged 16, and is buried near his owner, John Gray, at Greyfriars Kirkyard.

1874 - Heart of Midlothian Football Club is founded.

1875 - Hibernian Football Club is founded.

1875 - The Cockburn Association (Edinburgh Civic Trust) is founded.

1876 - Intelligible human speech is heard over the telephone for the first time when Alexander Graham Bell calls to Watson: "Mr. Watson. Come here. I want to see you.".

1878 - Bell demonstrates the telephone for Queen Victoria.

1883 - Robert Louis Stevenson, born in Edinburgh, publishes Treasure Island as a novel.

1886 - The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is published by Stevenson.

1889 - The Scottish National Portrait Gallery opens on Queen Street.

1890 - The Forth Rail Bridge is opened by the Prince of Wales.

1892 - McVitie's devise Digestive Biscuits.

1893 - Sherlock Holmes is killed off in the story The Final Problem by Arthur Conan Doyle.

1895 - Edinburgh is lit by electricity.

1900 - present day

1902 - Waverley Station is completed, covering 70,000 square metres.

1906 - The King's Theatre opens at Tollcross.

1910 - First electric trams run.

1914 - The Usher Hall opens on Lothian Road.

1916 - The Bank of Scotland hires its first female employee.

1920 - Leith is incorporated into Edinburgh.

1928 - The Flying Scotsman provides a fast rail link to London.

1928 - The city's first traffic lights are set up at Broughton Street.

1929 - Sir JM Barrie is awarded the Freedom of the City of Edinburgh.

1941 - 1945 - The Honours of Scotland are secretly buried in David's Tower at Edinburgh Castle.

1947 - The first Edinburgh Fringe Festival is held.

1950 - The first Edinburgh Military Tattoo is held on the Castle Esplanade.

1956 - Edinburgh Corporation Tramways operates for the last time.

1977 - Queen Elizabeth II visits Edinburgh.

1980 - The City Art Centre opens on Market Street.

1984 - The Gallery of Modern Art opens on Belford Road.

1986 - The 13th Commonwealth Games are held in the city.

1987 - Ian Rankin's first Rebus' novel is published, Knots and Crosses.

1993 - Irvine Welsh's novel, Trainspotting, is published.

1995 - The Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) opens on Morrison Street.

1996 - The Stone of Destiny is returned to Scotland and put on permanent display in Edinburgh Castle.

1997 - JK Rowling's first novel The Philosopher's Stone is published with an initial print-run of 1,000 copies. The book was written in The Elephant Café in Edinburgh .

1999 - The Scottish Parliament is opened by HM The Queen at Holyrood.

2004 - The new Scottish Parliament building opens.

2008 - Chris Hoy becomes the first British Olympian for 100 years to claim three golds at one games in Beijing.