SCOTLAND’S national bard is renowned the world over for his poetry and song, but the Ayrshire figure has this week been recognised for the only professional trade he ever learnt.
The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) awarded Robert Burns the only post-humous membership of their organisation - the world’s leading qualification for professional standards in land, property and construction - at their General Council meeting in Edinburgh on Monday.
Determined that her son would not work on the land, Burns’ mother sent her son to Kirkoswald where, at the age of 17, he studied land surveying and geometry under parochial teacher Hugh Rodger - a man celebrated at the time as a great land surveyor and geometrician.
A tenant farmer by birth, this kind of training is thought to have been standard for an ambitious modern farmer of the period, and would have required Burns to draw field plans and estate maps and be familiar with surveying tools.
The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway - which already boasts a relic of the Bard’s land surveying work in the handle from one of his original surveying chains - will house his prestigious award.
The accolade was received by Local Government and Planning Minister Derek Mackay MSP, who said: “Like Burns the work of the surveying profession is a vital part of modern Scottish life, and it has been a pleasure to hear more about the work of the profession, and its association with the Bard.”