NOBEL prize winner Peter Higgs has revealed he will be allowed to graze his sheep in an Edinburgh park after being granted the freedom of the city.
Prof Higgs, who first proposed the Higgs boson particle which was discovered at CERN in Switzerland last year, speaking outside his home in the city, said he was delighted.
Referring to the historic privileges that come with the honour, the 84-year-old joked: “It will be nice to be able to graze my sheep in the Meadows.”
He said he had only heard of the award today, and was preparing to travel to Stockholm next month for the formal Nobel prize award ceremony.
He said: “I’ve just heard. I’m delighted.
“At the moment I’m too busy to celebrate, I’m getting ready to go to Stockholm.”
He said he had written his speech for the ceremony “last weekend.”
He added he had many fond memories of Edinburgh as “I’ve lived here for more than 50 years now.”
The decision to give Prof Higgs the Freedom of the City of Edinburgh will place him alongside Sean Connery, Sir Chris Hoy and Nelson Mandela.
Prof Higgs, who taught physics at Edinburgh University, will receive the honour in recognition of his lifetime’s work and contribution to theoretical physics.
Prof Higgs has lived in Edinburgh for 50 years and it was while working at Edinburgh University that he proposed the idea of a particle that gives matter mass.
Lord Provost Donald Wilson said: “I had the pleasure of presenting Peter with the Edinburgh Medal on behalf of the Edinburgh International Science Festival earlier this year and I think it is absolutely right that we, the people of Edinburgh, recognise his immense contribution to science.
“His achievements with the University of Edinburgh are of global significance and this latest honour will be further evidence of the high esteem in which he is quite deservedly held, not just by his peers but by the people of the city he now calls home.”
The award is expected to be presented at a private ceremony next year.
Historically, the award meant you were allowed to own property and trade freely within the city – as well as guaranteeing you protection during times of peril.
But now the title is largely just a ceremonial honour individuals, no longer granting any special privileges.
The Freedom of the City can also be given to service men and women who have earned the city’s trust and means they can parade through the city
Higgs and another scientist predicted the existence of the Higgs boson particle in 1964 and the particle was finally detected last year by the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland.