Gregory’s Pillar

Gregory’s Pillar SSL O NO509142 1 363 100m

Gregory’s Pillar 1900 x 1949 OS 6 inch 1st edn, 2nd Revision

pn Gregory + SSE pillar

This is the name of a stone pillar behind the cottages at Scooniehill. It stands on a base of cement and stone composite, the pillar itself having a square section at the bottom (up to about 50 cm) and thereafter having a tapering octagonal section to the top (perhaps 2.5 m high). On top of the pillar is mounted a strange triple-branched metal structure.

It is named after the astronomer and mathematician James Gregory (1638-75), appointed Professor of Mathematics at St Andrews University in 1668, who invented the Gregorian Telescope, a type of reflecting telescope using two concave mirrors. Though he first proposed the design of this telescope in 1663, the first working model was made five years later by Isaac Newton, based on Gregory’s design. The pillar was erected to assist Gregory in his observations, since it was then visible from the University’s Upper Library Hall, 2.6 km to the north, where he established an observatory. It must still stand in the place where it was first erected, since it is on the crest of a hill and almost exactly south of the Library, giving Gregory a ‘meridian marker’ (he also had a meridian line marked on the floor of the Library) allowing him to establish accurate measurements (Turnbull 1939, 273).[288]

The Gregory Crater on the far side of the moon is named after this astronomer.

This place-name appeared in printed volume 3