Product has been added to the basket

John Leonard Roberts, 1936-2000

John Roberts received his secondary education at George Watson’s College in Edinburgh and it was at this time while climbing in Glen Coe that he was inspired to find out more about the origin of the rocks that were grazing his knees! He was later to publish three definitive papers on the sequence of events and products of the Glencoe Cauldron and the nature of the Fault Intrusion. This work is particularly noted for the first recognition of ignimbrites in this sequence.

He took his geology degree at the University of Edinburgh (1954-58) where he came under the influence of George Black, Mike Johnson, Doris Reynolds and Ken Walton. Winning a DSIR Scholarship he went to Liverpool University for his PhD. Here, at his own suggestion, he was to work under Robert Shackleton on the structure of the Dalradian of the Southwest Highlands and benefited especially from the contemporary work being carried out at Liverpool on the Dalradian by Nicholas Rast, Peter Stringer and Gerhard Voll.

In 1963 John went to the Middle East for three years, teaching in Saudi Arabia for a year and for two years at the American University of Beirut , Lebanon, where he met his first wife, Lynn. He returned to Britain in 1966 to a teaching post at Newcastle University, where he was to remain until taking early retirement in 1986.

John published over 20 papers on the structure of the Dalradian of Scotland. Since I was joint author in many of these, I would have to declare some partiality in saying that these have made a considerable impact on the interpretation of Highland geology; but there can be no doubt that his paper, based on his Ph.D. work and published by this Society in 1974, - The Structure of the Dalradian rocks in the SW of Scotland – is a seminal work. This paper described in detail the eight phases of deformation that affect these rocks and provided the first ‘modern’ account of the evolution and overall structure of the Dalradian from Islay to the Highland Border.

After his retirement, John devoted his energy to writing books. Among them, An Introduction to Geological Maps and Structures (Pergamon Press, 1982) is a much-admired student text, in its third printing and translated into several languages. The Macmillan Field Guide to Geological Structures (Macmillan, 1989) is a wonderful tribute to his talent for photography, as is his Photographic Guide to Mineral, Rocks and Fossils (New Holland, 1998). The Highland Geology Trail (Luath Press, 1998) demonstrates his wish to share his love of Highland geology with others. More recently John turned to writing about the history of the Scottish Highlands, three volumes being published since 1997 by Edinburgh University Press and a fourth completed in the last year of his debilitating illness.

John will be remembered with great affection by his second wife Jessie and his three daughters Gillian, Kathleen and Rachel – by his many ex-students and friends and by your correspondent.

Jack Treagus