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Geoscientist Online

The Geology of Eigg

alisrkrdOriginally written in 2003, this guide was sold in the island craft shop, proving popular with visitors. This revised and updated edition has been published by the Edinburgh Geological Society in association with the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust, with the aim of promoting the interesting geology and spectacular scenery of this small island to a wider audience.

Eigg is a unique Hebridean island where a local community buyout in 1997 led to the development of the first wind, water and solar-powered electricity grid.  As the ferry approaches the island visitors’ eyes are drawn by the impressive cliffs of pitchstone that form the Sgurr. The island’s geology and landforms impress the most casual visitor.

‘The geology of Eigg’ is intended for visitors, whatever their geological knowledge or lack of it. In A5 format, it can be carried in a pocket for easy reference when out walking. This review is based on my experience using it during a family holiday.

The text is clearly written with many colour photographs and the inclusion of a glossary and stratigraphic column is helpful for the non-geologist. Part one describes the geology of Eigg and its regional setting, with individual sections reviewing the stratigraphy of the Jurassic and Cretaceous sediments, the Hebridean Igneous Province and the story of the Sgurr. A review of the ‘Ice Age’ and its impact on the landscape concludes the first part. Reference is also made to Hugh Miller and the Eigg plesiosaur and to Sir Archibald Geikie’s theory on the formation of the Sgurr. The informative text provides sufficient detail for the casual visitor.

There follow seven excursion guides, based on the extensive network of way-marked footpaths. Clearly annotated route maps are included (which can also be purchased from the craft shop). As the island measures five by three miles, all excursions are accessible from the pier, where the café, craft shop and island shop are located.

The first four excursions introduce the visitor to the main features of the geology and landscapes of the island. They can be combined with visits to places of interest such as the ‘Singing Sands’ and ‘Massacre Cave’. There are options to extend these routes for the interested geologist. Excursions five to seven are more strenuous, offering the opportunity to discover the remoter parts of the island.

The booklet was well used during our visit by both geologist and non-geologists and I would recommend it to anyone visiting Eigg as an excellent companion - let down only by poor binding - our copy disintegrated into separate pages.

Reviewed by Richard Wrigley

THE GEOLOGY OF EIGG by JOHN D HUDSON, ANGUS D MILLER, ANN ALLWRIGHT.  Edinburgh Geological Society, 2016, 2nd Edn., sbk ISBN-13: 9780904440164, 68pp. List price: £7.50. W: www.edinburghgeolsoc.org/p_sales.html