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Scotland Day 6: Graduation!

semi-overcast 44 °F

We got up fairly early and got ready for the graduation ceremony. Then we walked over to McEwan Hall, where graduations are usually held for the University of Edinburgh.
Once Daniel had his gown and hood gathered for the ceremony we had the chance to take some pictures in the square in front of McEwan Hall.
Us in front of McEwan Hall as it shines in the morning sunlight.
In front of one of the side doors to the Hall.

Daniel got his picture taken by the photographers and then was able to enter the hall. A bagpiper and drummer were playing as the graduates walked in, and then they led a procession of university officials into the hall. It was a beautiful start to the ceremony.

Some pictures that Catherine took inside the Hall. Daniel was not able to take pictures because he was seated with the other graduates. Two of his fellow Ancient Worlds program graduates were here, also from the United States, and so he was able to meet them in person and talk about how much "fun" they all had writing their dissertations.

Catherine had a very good seat for watching the officials and the graduates as they moved across the stage.
Graduates walk across the stage, their names are read, and they get bopped on the head with a hat. The hat is called the "Geneva Bonnet" and is rumored to have been made out of John Knox's breeches. This is an odd story, especially given that Knox in fact wore a Geneva bonnet. It seems more likely that if it has any connection with him that it is his hat, and not a hat made from his pants. However, it seems even more likely that it is just a hat.
Daniel getting bopped on the head with the Geneva bonnet as he walks across the stage to collect his degree.
A choir sang some beautiful songs and there was a short speech encouraging the graduates to continue to learn (we have yet to hear a graduation speech that exhorts the listeners to quit now while you're ahead and not try to learn anything new), and then the officials processed out, followed by the graduates.
After we reunited outside the hall we were able to take some pictures. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful ceremony. The bagpipe, drum, and organ music, as well as the choir, made it all feel especially emotional. Two years of work, stress, and writing were beautifully rewarded with this ceremony.

Unfortunately, due to a strike among some of the professors and lecturers the reception afterwards was cancelled. It was a bit odd that it got cancelled, and when we talked to a professor later she was surprised that the strike had interfered in any way. It may have been cancelled out of "an abundance of caution" despite no real risk of any problems.
Not going to the reception allowed us to take a nice walk and go to a little Italian restaurant for lunch.

After lunch, we went and met with Daniel's dissertation advisor. We went to a cafe for tea and scones, and talked about cats and classics and the ceremony. Then she took us on a wonderful tour of the department's offices and its small library. It is located in the former medical school, which is a beautiful old building. It was a wonderful afternoon.

After this we went on a very different kind of tour. It was about the various dark and bizarre stories that haunt Edinburgh's history. We were hoping it would be more historical, and it was a little bit "trying to creep people out" for our tastes. However, we did get to see some interesting things and learn some stories from Edinburgh's past.
We got the chance to tour the vaults under one of the bridges, which was interesting. These vaults were originally used by the businesses above, but were abandoned because of the lack of natural light, which necessitated the use of fish-oil candles, which made the vaults smell horrible. They may (the tour guide insisted they had) become home to a literal criminal underworld, with brothels, opium dens, and illegal taverns frequented by grave-robbers.
After we left the vaults we were led to the graveyard in Canongate, which is outside the technical old boundaries of the city. Several interesting people were buried here, including Adam Smith and Robert Fergusson. It is also thought to be the location of the grave of Ebenezer Scroggie, who according to legend was listed on his grave as "a meal man" due to his career as a grain merchant. Charles Dickens is said to have seen the grave and misread it as "a mean man" and then written A Christmas Carol as a speculative story to explain how someone could have earned such an epitaph. However, there does not seem to be any evidence of this and the gravestone is lost.
Toasting to Daniel's graduation with a dram of whisky, then a dinner of cullen skink (fish chowder), potato and leek soup, and then cranachan and sticky toffee pudding for dessert. It was a wonderful graduation day that we will always remember!

Posted by danielcatherine 08:03 Archived in Scotland Tagged edinburgh tea graveyard lunch graduation advisor strike dissertation vaults classics mcewan_hall cullen_skink cranachan adam_smith

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Congratulations, Daniel! What an amazing day! I love all the beautiful pictures! I'm glad you two are having such a wonderful time, and I'm really enjoying reading about your adventures!

by Boxofrain106

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