The Old Red: Hugh Miller's Geological Legacy

February 2017

conference poster (details below)

Victorial Hall, Cromarty

9 - 10 September 2017

(Booking Form)

This two-day meeting is being convened by ‘The Friends of Hugh Miller’ in Cromarty on the Black Isle. The content is aimed at everyone in the general public who is inspired by the natural world. It will appeal to all those interested in fossils, geology, landscape, Miller’s writing, and Scottish history and culture. The theme "The Old Red: Hugh Miller's Geological Legacy," and the wide range of talks will show how Miller’s 19th C geological contributions, and observations of the natural world still have relevance in the 21st C.



A line-up of speakers has been secured which includes some of the most eminent earth scientists in their fields, as well as others who set the scientific material in a broader context.

On Day One our first keynote speaker is Professor John Long of Flinders University, South Australia , who will open proceedings on Saturday with a discussion of "Sex in an old Scottish lake: How Orkney fossils revealed the origins of complex vertebrate reproduction."

Gold prospector Gavin Berkenheger will explain how Miller was an inspiration for him as a modern geologist. Following him Dr Martin Brazeau's theme is: "Cromarty in the tree of life; Hugh Miller’s lasting impact on our understanding of vertebrate evolution."

Prolific author Alan McKirdy will talk about: "Geology and landscape, from Miller to modern times."

Emeritus Professor John Hudson will lead a session on "Hugh Miller’s Jurassic rocks and fossils" and his talk will be complemented by Edinburgh PhD candidate Elsa Panciroli on her project :"Mesozoic Mammals from the Isle of Skye: palaeontological research in Scotland's Inner Hebrides".

Among her topics, she will discuss the Jurassic reptile footprints on Skye which have already attracted huge public interest.

Friends' chairman palaeontologist Bob Davidson will be "Putting flesh on fossil bone, from Miller’s paper models to 3D printing" and Day One will climax with oil and gas consultant Dr Roger Jones presenting "New insights on Homostius milleri; Hugh Miller’s ‘Asterolepis of Stromness".

A cast of the spectacular new Homostius milleri specimen featured in Roger Jones's talk will be on view as part of a guided tour of the Hugh Miller Museum in Church Street, Cromarty, which will be on offer to delegates at the close of the first day's sessions by the National Trust for Scotland's property manager Dr Alix Powers-Jones.

Day Two starts with our second keynote address to be delivered jointly by Professor Ralph O'Connor and Dr Michael A Taylor on Miller's epic first work on geology: "The Old Red Sandstone in literature and science; why it mattered in 1841 and why it matters today".

While geology and its practitioners were achieving global renown, the new art form of photography came to the fore, and this will be examined by Dr Alison Morrison-Low in her presentation of "Early Victorian photography and stereography with particular reference to the pioneers in the earth sciences".

Dr Andrew Ross, NMS principal curator of palaeontology, NMS, will present The Hugh Miller Collection at National Museums Scotland.

At the close of the conference, delegates can join an afternoon excursion to the Cromarty Devonian fish deposits just to the east of the town which Miller discovered and made famous, and where a fine specimen of Cheirolepis trailli was found as recently as May this year.

We hope you will agree we have succeeded in drawing up a wide-ranging and exciting programme in which you will feel it is well worthwhile to participate.



Please use the form below to register as a delegate. The fee is a very modest £12, and you can choose which of the catering options you wish to take up.

Delegates are also invited to express an interest in a three-day post conference excursion further up the north east coast to see Jurassic rocks in the Brora/Helmsdale area and the Old Red Sandstone fossil localities of Caithness, including the Devonian fish deposits at the famous Achanarras Quarry at Spittal now run by Scottish Natural Heritage.

This trip is being organised separately from the conference – details and cost are dependent on demand. Please tick the box on the right at the bottom of the booking form and you will be contacted with more information nearer the time.

Booking Form



Conference accommodation in Cromarty has been reserved for you to make your own bookings at the Royal Hotel, Marine Terrace (01381 600217, info@royalhotel-cromarty.co.uk) and B & B/self-catering at The Old Brewery, Burnside Place, (01381 600354, info@cromartyartstrust.co.uk).

Other facilities can be visited on the CromartyLive.co.uk website. Early booking is advised because there is only limited accommodation, although there are several more hires on offer in nearby towns and villages.