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Nigel Trewin 1944 2017

sdfghProfessor Nigel Trewin, ‘Geology of Scotland’ editor, renowned Old Red Sandstone expert, lecturer and dear friend to many, inspired generations of geologists from his long held post at Aberdeen University.  He will be sorely missed.

Nigel began collecting fossils at the age of 10 which sparked a passion for everything geology.  He went on to receive his PhD from Keele University and became a demonstrator there until 1968 before moving to Aberdeen. During his 40 years at Aberdeen University, Nigel rose to Personal Chair in 2004 and was instrumental in making the campus one of the top places to study geology in the world.

Scottish Geology

With over 100 publications on Scottish geology relating to ORS fish beds, sedimentology and palaeoecology his contribution to the science is immeasurable.

Along with Dr Clive Rice, Nigel spent over 15 years dedicated to examining the rare plant, fungal and animal fossils found in the ~410 million year old Rhynie Chert unit in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

In 2005 Nigel received the Clough Medal of Edinburgh Geology Society for research on Scottish Geology, and in 2009 accepted the T N George Medal of Glasgow Geology Society for ‘Excellence in Palaeontology’.  Nigel was also a founding member of the Aberdeen Geological Society.

Nigel will be remembered by his students as the witty geology professor who delivered each lecture with humour and an unbroken smile giving his nick name as ‘The Joker’.  One of his most memorable lectures was discussing geology and whisky where he concluded that all Scottish whisky is from water sourced either from sandstone or granite with one anomaly.  The anomalous whisky which had its source waters run over the Old Red Sandstone Fish Beds was also his favourite, believing it contained the ghosts of these ancient sea creatures.


Professor Trewin who was often referred to as a modern ‘Victorian Naturalist’ had a broad range of interests and in keeping with this image was a keen collector of many odd things.  One of his finest collections was of Postal History of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire where he often published his finds in the ‘Scottish Post’.  He also built up a fine collection of Scottish 18th Century Trade Tokens and coins.  He also collected old geological maps and at one time owned a copy of William Smith’s great map.  His life’s collection of fossils is now in care of the National Museum of Scotland.

Hugh Miller

Nigel also had a great affinity with Hugh Miller and built a sizable collection of books, letters and ephemera which he kindly donated to The Hugh Miller Museum in Cromarty.  Nigel served as a Trustee and Chairman of ‘The Friends of Hugh Miller’ until 2016.  A recent geological conference organised by the charity named, The Old Red, celebrated the work of Miller and in part, the work conducted by Nigel and his trusted “fish filliters” who gathered from around the world in the small Scottish village.

Nigel and wife Margaret Trewin celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary in 2017.

By Gavin Berkenheger