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Jameson tour
Extract of a map showing the route taken by the Wernerian Robert Jameson to view the major geological and mineralogical sites of Scotland for his book ‘Mineralogy of the Scottish Isles’ (1800). GSL Library collection.  This volume belonged to Greenough which presumably accompanied him on his 1805 tour as his itinerary closely followed this route.

In 1805, George Bellas Greenough embarked on a geological tour of Scotland and was accompanied for the most part by James Skene (1775-1864), a lawyer and antiquarian who he had met whilst studying in Göttingen. Greenough’s intention was to compare the rival geological concepts of Plutonism and Neptunism advocated by James Hutton (1726-1797) and Abraham Werner (1749-1817) respectively. These concepts, about whether heat or water played the primary part in the formation of rocks, had appeared in recent works by the Scottish geologists James Playfair (1748-1819) and Robert Jameson (1774-1854) which Greenough took with him to observe first hand. Greenough would not be completely convinced by either theory, but was notably to be the first to suggest that the Parallel Roads of Glen Roy were the marks of successive beach levels of an ancient lake.

Skene Scuir Egg

Skene Glen Roy
  Skene Staffa
These three drawings were donated to the Society by James Skene on 5 January 1810. As the sites depicted appear in the itinerary of Greenough’s 1805 trip to Scotland it could be that they derive from this period.
From L-R - ‘Scur Eigg in the Hebrides'; ‘Parallel Roads of Glen Roy’; ‘Staffa’. Archive ref: LDGSL/400/1, 5 & 6. Click to enlarge

The first published geological map of Scotland was issued in 1836 under the (posthumous) authorship of John MacCulloch. The fieldwork alone had taken MacCulloch around 15 years to accomplish, but the reception to the map’s publication was rather negative from some quarters. Despite its topographical and geological errors, the map is not thought to have been superseded until the work of the Geological Survey in the 1860s.


Daniel Sharpe
Daniel Sharpe.  GSL/POR/53/20

On 23 July 1851 a committee headed by George Bellas Greenough was appointed by Council to assess the extent of the Society's Map collection holdings and make suggestions as to their improvement. One of the recommendations was that a new geological map of Scotland should be produced. This map was never intended for publication, instead its formation was specifically for the benefit of the Society’s Fellows.

Council ordered that the Society should purchase a copy of Samuel Lewis’ topographic map 'A map of Scotland divided into counties shewing the principal roads, railways, rivers, canals, lochs, mountains, islands, etc', [1846]. A further committee comprising of Greenough and Daniel Sharpe (1806-1856) was to undertake its geological colouring.

GBG map of Scotland
  Sharpe's map of Scotland
Fair draft of the Sharpe and Greenough map of Scotland, [1852]. Greenough collection, ref: LDGSL/947/6/C/5.
  Geological Map of Scotland, solely attributed to Daniel Sharpe (1852). Archive ref: LDGSL/702.

The unique map on the right is the finished result. However within Greenough’s map collection are a number of drafts including the one on the left, which is also on the Lewis base map. This seems to be a fair draft copy as the colouring on the others are of a far rougher quality.

The colour key of the final map is different to the drafts, for instance gneiss is marked in yellow but is pink on the others. The map is recorded in the Council Minutes and on the item itself as being the sole work of Sharpe which, considering the existing drafts in the Greenough collection, would appear to be not strictly accurate.