If you get chance to take a look at the British Geological Survey’s GeoScenic archive its surprising what you can find. A year or so ago, whilst on Clough Committee duties, Graham Leslie (Clough Committee Secretary) was kind enough to show members some images, which I thought you might like to be alerted too. They were some water colour sketches and pencil drawings made by Dr. Charles T. Clough and sent in letters to his son Charles Durham Clough between 1895 – 1900. At the time, Clough would have been on duties with the Geological Survey in Scotland and to whom he transferred from the England arm in 1884. He would have done these sketches (probably as a form of relaxation whilst in isolation – imagine what that would be like?) but also to share with his son something of the geology of different parts of Scotland that he was visiting at the time. A couple of of the images are presented here courtesy of the BGS archive.
The first is entitled “Ben na Caillich, Broadford”, which is one of Red Hills in the southern part of Skye. The second sketch is of “The Highlands once more. Looking into the Trossachs.” and would seem to shows the forested area at the eastern end of Loch Katrine.
If you would like to know more about Dr Charles T Clough – please turn to our Pioneers page for a quick biography of his life.
In preparing this article, I would wish to acknowledge the descendants of Charles Durham Clough, from whom the images have been copied. Also the BGS’ GeoScenic archive which we are able to share because of the OpenGeoscience under Open Government Licence.
Finally, do have a good rootle around the archive for other hidden gems. I am guessing that there are more out there and if you let me know, we can alert Fellows to other fascinating resources relating to Scotland’s geo-heritage.
Neil Mackenzie, Honorary Secretary of the Edinburgh Geological Society
A plaque has been unveiled to commemorate the life and works of the eminent geologist Charles Lapworth LL.D., F.R.S. (1842-1920) at the old Episcopal School in Galashiels. The listed building now housing Border Council’s offices was originally the school where Lapworth was headmaster between 1864-75. He moved to the Borders to teach from his original home in Berkshire. He married Janet Sanderson in 1869 and had four children, three of whom were born in the school house.
The unveiling on 20th May 2019 was done by children of the local St Peter’s Primary school in Galashiels. The efforts to erect the plaque were made by retired local residents and geology enthusiasts, Malcolm Lindsay and David Adamson.
Lapworth is a name which is long associated with Southern Uplands of Scotland. He did his initial research while living locally, but it was not until he moved to Madras College, in St Andrews in 1875 to continue his teaching career that he began to publish his defining work on the distribution of extinct organisms called graptolites. In 1879, he suggested the name “Ordovician” to describe the period between the Cambrian and Silurian ages, a name which was duly accepted across the world. Sir Edward Bailey, the Director of the British Geological Society and Professor of Geology at Glasgow University, later described Lapworth’s interpretation as “one of the miracles of science” and later said that “Lapworth grew up to be, perhaps, the greatest geologist who ever lived”. This plaque is therefore a fitting commemoration to the important time spent by Lapworth both teaching and researching in the Borders.
Hutton at Siccar Point
Hutton realised that the processes of erosion, deposition and uplift were connected and operated continuously, driven by the earth’s internal heat, in a way not understood at the time. At Siccar Point in 1788, he finally found the clear evidence he needed to demonstrate his understanding of the processes and cycles that shaped the Earth.
Hutton arrived at Siccar Point by boat, accompanied by Sir James Hall of Dunglass and John Playfair. Playfair wrote: “Dr Hutton was highly pleased with appearances that set in so clear a light the different formations, and where all the circumstances were combined that could render the observation satisfactory and precise … We felt necessarily carried back to a time when the schistus on which we stood was yet at the bottom of the sea, and when the sandstone before us was only beginning to be deposited, in the shape of sand or mud, from the waters of the supercontinent ocean… The mind seemed to grow giddy by looking so far back into the abyss of time; and whilst we listened with earnestness and admiration to the philosopher who was now unfolding to us the order and series of these wonderful events, we became sensible how much further reason may sometimes go than imagination may venture to follow.”
Hutton inferred from the sharp junction between the two sets of rocks that an enormous interval of time was required for the underlying strata to be folded and eroded before the overlying sandstones were deposited. The fundamental geological principle of deep time was thus established and Hutton famously concluded his work Theory of the Earth with: “We find no vestige of a beginning – no prospect of an end”. Since then different geological eras have been recognised and dated, and we now know that the Earth is around 4.5 billion years old.
Hutton’s discoveries fulfilled a tremendous mission: placing geology in a much wider time frame than the popular belief that the Earth was created in 4004 BC (as calculated by Bishop Ussher in 1650). This enabled geology to become a science in its own right with Hutton as its founding father.
The Hutton Memorial Garden, Edinburgh
This garden marks the exact site of Hutton’s house and garden at the original 3 St John’s Hill, the house where he lived for almost 30 years and where he died on 26th March 1797. The garden was created in 1997. It contains examples of important rock types associated with Hutton’s life. Two boulders showing granitic veins came from Glen Tilt which John Clerk of Eldin visited with James Hutton and illustrate Hutton’s work on the origin of granite from September 1785. The other three boulders are of conglomerate carried by ice and water came from Barbush on the edge of Dunblane. These illustrate Hutton’s understanding of the cyclicity of geological processes. The garden can be accessed from Veiwcraig Gardens off Holyrood Road, take the steps up to the garden from the first bend of the road, near to the Holyrood Road NCP Car Park – Edinburgh EH8 9UL.
Find out more: The Edinburgh Geologist – Issue no 38 (pdf file)
The Tri-Centenary of Hutton’s birth in 2026.
The Edinburgh Geological Society will be marking this occasion by holding a series of events.
The Edinburgh Geological Society
The Edinburgh Geological Society is one of the UK’s foremost geological societies, whose aim is to promote public interest in geology and the advancement of geological knowledge. We are a friendly and informal organisation with a wide range of members of varied backgrounds and interests.
Charity registered in Scotland
No. SC 008011