SEVEN brave Scots women who fought for their right to become the first in the UK to study at university in 1869 have been commemorated.

Known as the Edinburgh Seven for their determination to attend university and study medicine, their names will always be remembered after being engraved on a special plaque celebrating their achievements.

They are one of eight historical groups or figures to be recognised by the Historic Scotland commemorative plaques scheme, now in its fourth year, at Edinburgh University yesterday.

The Edinburgh Seven were Sophia Jex-Blake, Isabel Thorne, Edith Pechey, Matilda Chaplin, Helen Evans, Mary Anderson, and Emily Bovell.

In one incident, they were barred from attending an anatomy class by a large crowd and pelted with rubbish in what became known as the Surgeon’s Hall Riot.

The plaque was unveiled by Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop at the university’s anatomical museum.

Hyslop said: “Their situation put women’s right to study on the national political agenda, and helped lead to women being admitted to universities in Britain for the first time. It would be difficult to overstate how important this development was, as it gave the opportunity for women to participate in professions which were previously unattainable and determine their own career paths.”

Professor Jane Norman, vice-principal of people and culture at Edinburgh University, said the Surgeon’s Hall Riot marked a turning point in the campaign for women’s right to a university education.

She added: “I am delighted that the Edinburgh Seven are being recognised for their role in this important historical moment and the drive for equality in education.”

The Historic Scotland scheme celebrates the life and achievements of significant historic figures through the erection of a plaque on the home where they lived or a building synonymous with their achievements.

Nominations are submitted by the public before an independent panel of experts reviews and selects the final winners.

The Edinburgh Seven were nominated for the plaque by Jo Spiller, learning technology senior advisor at Edinburgh University.

A Christian missionary who died at Auschwitz concentration camp is among the others who will have a plaque unveiled in recognition of their work.

Jane Haining was killed at the Nazi death camp in 1944 after dedicating her life to working with Jewish children in Budapest.

The plaque is due to be mounted on one of the gateposts of the Royal College of Surgeons on Nicholson Street in Edinburgh as soon as maintenance work to that building is complete.

Martin Ross, policy and projects manager at Historic Scotland said: “In the last four years the number of nominations to the scheme has grown rapidly, and this latest round produced a wide range of potential recipients, from a broad spectrum of society. “

Other names on the plaque are Henry Bell, Scottish engineer who introduced the first successful passenger steamboat service in Europe; Andrew Blain Baird, 1862-1951, the first all-Scottish heavier-than-air powered flight aviation pioneer; and Sir William Alexander Smith, 1854-1914, founder of the Boys Brigade.

Also included are Baroness Florence Horsburgh, 1889-1969, Scottish Conservative Party politician and champion of social welfare issues (especially child welfare); Sorley Maclean, 1911-1994, one of the most significant Scottish poets of the 20th century (Gaelic poetry); and Hercules Linton, 1837-1900, Scottish surveyor, designer shipbuilder, antiquarian, and local councillor, best known as the designer of the Cutty Sark.