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.




Saturday 9th September 2017

10.00  Welcome to Cromarty and Hugh Miller Museum.  Mr Martin Gostwick / Dr Alix  Powers-Jones 

10.15   Professor John Long, strategic professor of palaeontology, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia.

           Sex in an old Scottish lake: How Orkney fossils revealed the origins of complex vertebrate reproduction.

 11.15 Coffee

 11.45   Mr Gavin Berkenheger, consultant geologist, and managing director of GreenOre Gold Plc.

             Hugh Miller: an inspiration to a modern geologist.

 12.15  Dr Martin Brazeau, lecturer, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Department of Life Sciences, University of London

             Cromarty in the tree of life; Hugh Miller’s lasting impact on our understanding of vertebrate evolution.

 12.45- 14.00 Lunch

 14.00  Mr Alan McKirdy, popular author on Scottish geology, formerly head of information, Scottish Natural Heritage

            Geology and landscape, from Miller to modern times.

14.30  Professor John Hudson, professor emeritus of geology, Leicester University

            Hugh Miller’s Jurassic rocks and fossils.

 15.00   Dr Elsa Panciroli, PhD candiate, Edinburgh University.

          Mesozoic Mammals from the Isle of Skye: palaeontological research in Scotland's Inner Hebrides.

 15.30 – 16.00  Coffee 

 16.00  Mr Bob Davidson, palaeontologist, North Sea oil industry consultant. 

           Putting flesh on fossil bone, from Miller’s paper models to 3D printing

 16.30   Mr Roger Jones, oil and gas consultant.

             New insights on Homostius milleri;  Hugh Miller’s  ‘Asterolepis of Stromness’.

 17. 00 Panel Discussion, close

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.

7.30  Conference Dinner  Royal Hotel 7.30pm

 DAY 2

Sunday 10th Sept 2017

 10.00  Professor Ralph O’Connor, professor in the literature and culture of Britain, Ireland and Iceland, Aberdeen University.

 and Dr Michael A. Taylor, honorary research fellow, School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester, and research associate, National Museums Scotland (NMS).

            The Old Red Sandstone in literature and science: why it mattered in 1841 and why it matters today.


11.00 Coffee


11.30 Dr Alison Morrison-Low, formerly principal curator, historic scientific instruments and photography, NMS          

          Early Victorian photography and stereography with particular reference to the pioneers in the earth sciences.

 12.00   Dr Andrew Ross, principal curator of palaeontology, NMS

          The Hugh Miller Collection, National Museums Scotland.

 12.30  Panel discussion

 12.45  Mr Bob Davidson:   Closing remarks 

 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.

13.00  Lunch

14.00  Local excursion exploring Cromarty Fish Bed and history around Cromarty



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.


Further information from : bobgdavidson@aol.com or 07759 231264