Geology and landscapes of Scotland

A great number of geology books have been published in recent years about Scottish geology and I have had the privilege of reviewing a number of them for this magazine. This plethora of publications is not surprising. As this book points out, in the six hundred miles between the Shetland island of Unst in the north to the Mull of Galloway in the south are some of the most interesting, varied and beautiful landscapes in Europe, if not the world. This has inspired a distinguished tradition of geological investigation going back to the mid-eighteenth century and the founder of modern geology – the Scotsman, James Hutton.

The geology is of equal appeal to professional and amateur geologists alike, as it is for the resident, walker or climber. As a keen walker and ex-‘Munro bagger’ myself, it is easy to see how geology has contributed to the charm that is Scottish countryside, including its famous highlands and glens. And this second edition guide provides a fascinating introduction to this geology and its relationship with Scottish landscapes. Beautifully illustrated, with full colour photographs and diagrams, the book covers all you would expect from such a guide, in a clear and accessible language (with a useful glossary at the end). Starting with an introduction to the science of geology, the author takes us through the geological regions of Scotland, discussing the oldest rocks in the far northwest, the Caledonian Mountains and lowland Scotland. It also covers the islands (in particular, the fascinating Hebridean volcanoes) and the fringes of the North Sea; and finishes by discussing Ice Age Scotland and the effects of geology on man, in terms of economics and human history.

Con Gillen is an experienced geologist, who is currently working at the University of Edinburgh. He has led many field trips across the country and most of his teaching has been spent introducing those new to geology, which is clear to see from the text. In my opinion, the book is a great addition to the library of anyone who wants a more detailed introduction to Scottish geology; and would be well worth taking on holiday as a guide to what can be seen, if only from a car window.

Geology and landscapes of Scotland by Con Gillen (2nd edition), Dunedin Academic Press Ltd, Edinburgh (2013). 246 pp, softback, ISBN: 978-1-78046-009-3