Reopen the Radical Road

Over 100 people attended a public meeting on Sunday 3 December 2023 about the Radical Road in Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park. Please sign the new petition, calling on Historic Environment Scotland to urgently reopen the Radical Road.

Workshop: Working with Charles Lyell, 8-9 February 2024, University of Edinburgh

‘WORKING WITH CHARLES LYELL’  Two-day workshop, 8-9 February 2024, University of Edinburgh


In 2020, the University of Edinburgh acquired for the nation the Notebooks of the distinguished geologist and earth scientist Charles Lyell (1797-1875) and, in 2021, the University received a further substantial tranche of Lyell’s scientific papers and correspondence. Staff in the University’s Centre for Research Collections have since been working to conserve, catalogue, digitise and promote the Lyell materials. The exhibition on Lyell’s work and scientific importance – ‘Charles Lyell: Time Traveller’ – opened in the University of Edinburgh Main Library, on 27 October 2023 and will run until 30 March 2024). A website on the Lyell material in Edinburgh is to be launched shortly. This workshop – ‘Working with Charles Lyell’ – builds upon these initiatives.

Workshop Purpose

The purpose of the Workshop is to bring together researchers, museum curators and others with an interest in the life, work, and collections of Charles Lyell, to learn more of the Lyell materials held in Edinburgh, to explore how best to connect the disparate holdings of Lyell’s specimens and texts, and to consider future research possibilities on Lyell’s work and world.

Workshop Programme

Our exciting and diverse programme presents 16 papers on Lyell’s work, the world of nineteenth-century science, the context to and the lasting significance of his work. There are also two panel sessions:

1) Curatorial and archival staff in institutions holding Lyell material will explore the opportunities and problems involved in linking archival holdings and object collections across institutions.

2) We consider the opportunities and possibilities for further research and collaboration on Charles Lyell’s work and significance.

Workshop Locations

The Workshop will be based at St Cecilia’s Hall, with the afternoon of Day 2 featuring a visit to see some of the Lyell materials held at the Centre for Research Collections at the Main Library, George Square, University of Edinburgh, and an opportunity to visit to the current ‘Time Traveller: Charles Lyell at Work’ exhibition. Day 1 will end with an evening drinks reception at the Playfair Library, generously supported by the British Society for the History of Science.


Numbers are limited so registration is essential. The final date for registration is 19 January 2024.


Time Traveller: Charles Lyell at Work

Exhibition at the University of Edinburgh Main Library, George Square
27 October 2023 – 30 March 2024

Today we understand the earth as an interconnected system involving life and its environment, including the atmosphere, oceans, ice, volcanoes, and the rocks of the crust. How do we comprehend forces that operate on global scales and deep in the past, beyond the capacities of human observation? How do we think about the relation between humans and animals? Can we establish a science that transcends deep divides of religion, race, culture, and politics?

This exhibition explores these questions through the work of a key figure in establishing this planetary vision, the geologist and science writer Charles Lyell (1797-1875), revealing how he travelled to gather evidence, and collaborated with others. For the first time, Lyell’s comprehensive archive is reunited with his collected fossils, specimens, and published books held at the University of Edinburgh.

The exhibition is on in the Main Library, George Square, Edinburgh. Free and open to all, the entrance is just before the main security entrance, so feel free to pop in anytime 10am – 6pm. Further information is here:

Expert curator Jim Secord is leading 2 lunchtime tours on Friday 27th October, 1pm – 2pm and Wednesday 1st November, 1pm-2pm. All are welcome, please register for either tour here:

Public Meeting: The Radical Road – Past, Present, Future?

The Radical Road in Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park has been a much loved walking route since 1822. This public event will explore the history and use of the Radical Road, and its importance to local people and visitors, walkers, geologists, climbers and historians.

Lecture Programme 2023-2024

Our Wednesday evening lecture programme starts on 18th October 2023 and runs through until the end of March 2024. This year’s lecture programme continues the thread from last session, with lectures delivered by key authors contributing to several chapters of the new (5th) edition of The Geology of Scotland, which is due to be published this year.

View the full programme here.

These meetings are open to the public, there is no charge, no need to book, and visitors are most welcome. Our lectures are also broadcast live on Zoom. This session, several of our lectures will be preceded by free ‘pizza and pop’ sessions, from 6pm in the Grant Museum. All welcome.

The first lecture of the session will be given by Dr John Macdonald, University of Glasgow, on Wednesday 18th October 2023, exploring New Perspectives on Modern Geology: Anthropogenic Geomaterials. You can book for the free pizza and pop before the lecture using this link.

EGS Public Lecture: Mary Anning and her Sea-Dragons Friday 6 October 2023

Public lecture exploring the amazing variety of fossils in Scotland

New leaflet: the geology of Dalkeith Country Park

The Lothian and Borders GeoConservation group is delighted to publish a new leaflet exploring some of the geology of Dalkeith Country Park. The leaflet, prepared by volunteers Alison and Barry Tymon with support from other members of the group, introduces the sandstones that were used in construction of Restoration Yard and the Orangerie. It also explains how these sandstone layers were formed, and where some local examples can be seen in the Park. These were formed in large river channels around 310 million years ago.

You can download the new leaflet here –

Barns Ness limestone

Fossil walk at Barns Ness, near Dunbar

Fossil walk at Barns Ness – Thursday 15 June 2023, 19:00 to 20:30. Free – booking essential

Join geologists from the Edinburgh Geological Society for a short walk exploring the limestone at Barns Ness, and the amazing stories that the rocks can tell of their origin in a warm, shallow sea at the equator. We’ll find lots of fossils, and evidence of changing conditions as different sedimentary rocks formed 330 million years ago. An event for Dunbar Civic Week.

Meet at the east end of the White Sands Beach – NT713772, What3Words: trembles.represent.encloses

Information about White Sands, including directions:

Geology Leaflet:

Public talk: James Hutton in Leiden, 1749

Leiden Academy in 1763

Public talk by Bert Schuchmann: James Hutton in Leiden, 1749 – How the future founder of modern geology earned his doctorate in just a few weeks.

Tuesday 6 June 2023, 6pm at St Cecilia’s Hall, 50 Niddry Street, Edinburgh EH1 1LG

James Hutton stayed in Leiden, the Netherlands, for a few weeks in August and September 1749; a minimum of 29 days, and probably longer. This has been confirmed from original documents. Was it common to graduate in such a short period of time? How long did he really stay? Where did he live? The original house is gone. What did it look like and what happened to it? Who else lived there at the time? Where did Hutton go to during his sojourn in Leiden? Who did he meet? Finally, did Leiden have any influence on Hutton? These questions were raised and are tentatively answered.

Free event, booking required: book here

Book: James Hutton Stay in Leiden (1749)

In celebration of their 90th anniversary, the Leiden Geological Society are publishing an 86-page book in English, detailing their recent research into James Hutton’s stay in Leiden in 1749. This shows that in the 18th century there was lively diploma-tourism by numerous foreign students attracted by the fame of Leiden University. The author Bert Schuchmann also attempts to find a possible influence of the Leiden-ethos on Hutton’s subsequent intellectual development.

The book will be available to buy at the public talk on 6 June. We can also distribute it by post after the event, but it must be pre-ordered here.

Clough Medal Lecture 2022/23

On 1 February 2023, the annual Clough Medal lecture took place at the Grant Institute, Kings Buildings Campus, University of Edinburgh and also broadcast online. Mike Browne, acting President of Edinburgh Geological Society explained that Charles Thomas Clough was a distinguished BGS geologist, who in fact died after a being hit by a train near Birkhill Station on the Bo’ness to Kinneil railway in 1916. The Clough Medal was set up in 1935, and is given each year to a person who has contributed to a geologist whose original work has materially increased the knowledge of the geology of Scotland and/or the north of England, or one working in Scotland or the north of England who has significantly advanced the knowledge of any aspect of geology.

The medallist for 2022/23 was Professor Dave Evans (Department of Geography University of Durham) who gave a lecture entitled the “Quaternary glacial geology and geomorphology: application of m0dern analogues to reconstructing glaciations”.  He was presented with his medal by Mike Browne.

Dave being presented with Clough Medal 2022

A brief outline of Dave’s career was described by Jon Merritt (ex-BGS), who said that their interest in geology had both been seeded by visits to geology outcrops in Hertfordshire. He said that today, Dave was widely regarded by this peers as one of the leading Quaternary and glacial scientists in the UK and worldwide. His significant publication record of peer-reviewed papers (>200+), books (16), field guides and maps were an incredible achievement.

From his PhD and post-docs in Canada, he found himself in a position at the University of Glasgow where he stayed for 14 years. Dave was made a senior lecturer there, in the Department of Geography & Topographic Science. He has had a long association with the teaching and advancement of earth science and physical geography in Scotland.  In 2004, he moved to position of Reader at the University of Durham and became a Professor in 2011.

Dave’s considerable contribution to this research field was acknowledged in 2017 by the Royal Geographical Society when he was awarded the Busk Medal– “for excellence and originality in the study of glacial landscapes and processes and empowering the next generation”.

He has worked over the years with some greats, such as Professor Doug Benn (University of St Andrews) with whom he published the internationally renowned text book “Glaciers and Glaciation”, now in its 2nd Edition.  Dave’s research focuses on glacial geomorphology and Quaternary science, concentrating specifically on palaeoglaciology and the spatial and temporal reconstruction of former glaciers and ice sheets. His research falls into three key themes: (i) Glacial landsystems which uses his knowledge of glacial geomorphological to develop conceptual models to understand glacial process-form relationships in contemporary glacial settings in the high-arctic and mid-latitude mountain ranges. He has been successfully using this approach to reconstruct glacier margins in northern Britain and other glaciated regions around the world; (ii) Glacial sedimentology focusing on ice-marginal settings and has become one of the world’s experts in understanding of the relationships between subglacial till genesis and glacier dynamics; and (iii) Quaternary palaeoenvironments of glaciated basins.

The talk which Dave gave on the evening took us on journey through (i)-(iii) and had some spectacular drone footage of glacial features which he and his research students are working on in Iceland.  He shared the recent visualisations of the ice sheets movements across the UK & Ireland produced by the Britice-Chrono 2022 (Clarke et. Al, 2023).  Along with some beautiful images of glacial deposits from County Durham through to Strathallan (Gleneagles), near Perth and across the pond to Alberta. It is here where advances in LIDAR (accurate level measurements by satellites to resolution of 1-2m) are providing opportunities to uncover new glacial and peri-glacial features not seen before in the landscape.

The vote of thanks was given by Dr Andrew Finlayson (BGS) and who paid tribute to Dave’s expertise in the field which he said that Clough would have admired.  He thanked Dave for the way he was able to take processes happening today and use these interpret sediment sequences around the globe.  He also said that he particularly liked the idea that “Tills were not till”.  He asked for thank you from the audience present and online for the speaker and this was duly done by all.

If Fellows weren’t able to attend physically or virtually, a recording is available on our YouTube Channel.