The latest news and information from EGS, including updates on our excursion and lecture programmes, and any other news we think you might find interesting or useful. Please let us know of anything important that we could share with others, by email or using our Contact Form.

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.

Beach Pebbles at the Edinburgh Science Festival

Thursday 6th / Friday 7th / Monday 10th / Tuesday 11th April 2023, 10am to 1pm

Every beach pebble has got a story to tell, about how the original rock was formed and what’s happened to it since then, to turn it into the pebble you can pick up on a beach today. Join geologists from the Edinburgh Geological Society on a local beach for some hands-on activities to explore the stories hidden in every pebble. We’ll discover an amazing variety of different types of pebble, find out where they come from and what they tell us about Scotland’s geology. We’ll also explore why the beach looks the way it does, and how it might change in the next few decades with climate change. You can try out some games and activities that will help you find out more about Scotland’s geology and make you think! Build a mini drystane dyke, skim some stones, or help make a map of the area.

Please dress for the weather. Warm clothing and strong footwear advised. Events take place close to access points but you may need to walk up to 100 metres on sand or pebbles and negotiate ramps or steps. Children must be accompanied by an adult and all participants require a ticket.

If you have mobility needs why not contact Beach Wheelchairs Portobello to see if they can help. BWC Portobello have a range of manual beach wheelchairs and one special all terrain power wheelchair for free hire that can be used to get on the beach and take part in our activity. They also have a hoist that takes a loop style sling available to use. The event at Portobello is very close to their base. The Joppa event is further away, but if you don’t mind a 1.6km wheel along the prom, you would be most welcome there as well. Both events have ramp access to the beach.

To find out more, including how to book check out their website or phone 0300 666 0990 to chat to one of their volunteers.

Thursday 6th April: Cramond – book here
Friday 7th
 April: Portobello – book here
Monday 10th April: Wardie Bay 
– book here
Tuesday 11th April: Joppa Beach 
– book here

Event locations

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.

Fellows’ Night 2022 – No. 189!

On 14th December 2022, the Edinburgh Geological Society held its 189th Fellows’ Night at the Grant Institute, University of Edinburgh. This meeting takes place each year, close to the anniversary of the foundation of the Society (on 6th December). 
The pandemic has meant that a “normal” Fellows’ Night has not taken place for a few years now.

This year we were determined to be “normal” again and so an in-person event was held at which a series of short talks were given by members and some refreshments enjoyed by all.
Four speakers were lined up for this event, but first Mike Browne (acting EGS President) gave a thank you to both Alison and Barry Tymon for their contribution to geoconservation in the Midlothian and Scottish Borders recently, and in Yorkshire previously. This work has added significantly to the total of number of local sites recognised for their geological interest across the Lothian and Borders region to 166.

The talks kicked off with Angus Millar (EGS Promotion Coordinator) (and his dog) taking up a challenge to visit 30 geoconservation sites in the month of November, and yes, he achieved this – 32 in fact and despite wet weather. Sites visited varied from Kilspindie beach erratics to the Eildon Hills, and Carlops glacial drainage channels to River Clyde oxbow lochs and active meanders. A fascinating demonstration of the breadth of geological sites on our doorsteps.

Second up was Bob Gatliff who updated Fellows on Siccar Point activities in 2022 – the embarking on the process of getting UNESCO heritage status for Hutton’s Unconformity, obtaining widespread support for the project and recognition by IUGS of Siccar Point being one of the first one hundred sites recognised for its geological heritage significance.

Thirdly, Mark Williamson (University of Edinburgh) described his geological reconnaissance of the Bilston Glen SSSI as a location for future undergraduate student visits. Its combination of mining heritage and exposures of the Lower Carboniferous (not always so clear) was described.

Finally, we heard from Prof James Floyd on his “Ships of stones” which described some fascinating collections of ornamental decoration using geologies from around the world. He explained how he discovered these treasures when engaged to give lectures on cruise ships. This had led to the discovery that not only was the best geology to be found at the islands they visited but that on board many of the ships was a wealth of geological interest as well (sadly not being recognised by many of the crew members and passengers).

In conclusion, I think everyone who attended came away with the feeling that geology surrounds us everywhere and that although not everywhere has that notice board just yet, there are a huge number of resources available through the EGS website (the Autumn Members’ Challenge is a good place to start).

We look forward to many more Fellows’ Nights in the future.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,

Neil Mackenzie, EGS Secretary.

Edinburgh Geocoin

The Edinburgh EarthCache Geocoin

Edinburgh GeocoinTo celebrate the rich variety of Edinburgh’s geology and the number of Earthcaches in the area, the Edinburgh Geological Society has produced a souvenir Edinburgh Earthcache Geocoin. This is an attractive trackable silver coin with views of Edinburgh Castle and Salisbury Crags. Find out more about Earthcaches and purchase the souvenir coin here.

Winter Reading

The Edinburgh Geological Society publishes a wide range of reading material, suitable for spending some winter hours catching up on recent research, expanding your horizons and planning your next excursion! Much of our printed material is available for free on this website.

The Edinburgh Geologist

Our twice yearly magazine for everyone with a broad interest in geology. Recent editions have covered the geology of Rockall, geological perspectives on the climate crisis, exploring the South Sandwich Trench, reports on excursions and book reviews. The entire archive of The Edinburgh Geologist is available online, from the first edition in 1977 to the most recent editions.

Geoconservation leaflets

The local geoconservation groups associated with EGS have published almost 40 leaflets on local sites of geodiversity interest, most of which are available online for free. From Wolf’s Hole Quarry in Bridge of Allan to Siccar Point, there is an amazing amount of information available here about the geology of central Scotland. Browse our recently-rearranged comprehensive listing here.

Books and Excursion Guides

We publish handy, pocket sized excursion guides and books covering some of the most popular areas of Scottish geology. These Geological Excursion Guides and Books are suitable for both amateur and professional geologists. These are available to order online, with a 20% reduction from RRP for EGS members.

Updating The Scottish Fossil Code

Internationally Scotland is important for its fossil heritage. New finds add to our record of past life and environments on planet Earth and help us understand the rapidly changing world that we live in today. The Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 required Scottish Natural Heritage, now known as NatureScot, to prepare the Scottish Fossil Code. The requirement is in recognition of the value and vulnerability of Scotland’s fossil heritage and that legislative measures alone cannot entirely safeguard the fossil heritage.

NatureScot is seeking views on the updated and refreshed Scottish Fossil Code which is due for relaunch in early 2023. To ensure that the refreshed Code is understandable and caters for all those that have an interest in Scotland’s fossil heritage, we would appreciate your comments and advice at The Scottish Fossil Code – have your say page.

Please note that the closing date for this consultation is Thursday 17th November 2022.