Scotland’s only geological

writing competition

is now open

The launch of the third Hugh Miller Writing Competition, 2019-2020

(and some exciting funding news!)


by Lara Reid


10th October 2019


It's that time of year again - the anniversary of Hugh Miller's birth on October 10th - and (amazingly) two years since we last launched our writing competition. We, the Scottish Geodiversity Forum and The Friends of Hugh Miller charity, are very proud to run Scotland's only geology-based writing competition.


The Hugh Miller Writing Competition 2019-2020 is now  open for prose and poetry entries. This year, we are inviting  entries inspired by one or more of the 51 Best Places to See Scotland’s Geology. Full details about the 51 Best Places can be found here: www.scotttishgeology.com/best-places


The list guides visitors to locations chosen by the Forum's earth science affiliates as the most favourable to see different elements of our country’s geological story, to help people of all ages fully appreciate the formation of Scotland’s beautiful landscapes.


The competition will encourage both a renewed interest in Miller’s work, and contribute to a growing catalogue of new writings inspired by him. While Miller himself visited many of the 51 locations on the list, entries are most certainly not limited to his haunts alone. We aim also to highlight the role that geology plays in our daily lives and foster greater public awareness and appreciation of geoheritage.


As always, we are grateful to all our partners for the competition, who have yet again offered a fantastic range of prizes to entice entries. From a weekend for two in Cromarty, complete with local fossil hunting expedition and tour of the Miller Birthplace Cottage and Museum, to family passes for Dynamic Earth and fossils from Mr. Wood’s Fossil shop in Edinburgh, we are so pleased to have the ongoing support of so many organisations.


We are also delighted to announce a successful funding application to the Cromarty-based Middleton Trust. The £440 grant will enable our small team to work on encouraging young people under the age of 25 to enter the competition. Some of the funds will be spent on prizes, and we will also be running some workshops in schools and local youth clubs on the Black Isle and other locations in the Highlands in the coming months. The funding is invaluable to our project, run as it is by a team of enthusiastic volunteers. 


Angus Miller, chair of the Scottish Geodiversity Forum, says: ”Scotland’s geology is amazing. Hugh Miller knew this, and he was adept at sharing its wonders with the general public. We hope that Miller’s writing, and the 51 Best Places, will inspire modern writers to enter the competition and share stories of Scotland’s geology with new audiences.”


Writer Robert Macfarlane (Underland, The Lost Words) has given his support to the competition, and adds; "Hugh Miller is one of the writers who gave me ‘deep-time spectacles’; his remarkable prose helped me, as it has helped so many people, to see back into earth history, and read our planet's ancient past from its present surface. He was, really, a visionary, and it is wonderful to see him still celebrated today."


The competition is open to all ages and is free to enter. It is being organised with the help of a range of partners in the fields of geology and education, with a closing date of 15th March 2020. it would be brilliant if you could encourage any under-25s that you know to enter. Scotland's geoheritage is part of their future.


What better encouragement could there be than this recommendation from a previous poetry first  prize winner Alex Woodcock‏ @beakheads

"Can't recommend this highly enough - great people and great prizes! In fact the real prize is becoming part of a fantastic community of writers, palaeontologists, poets, geologists, fossil-hunters...if you're into rocks and words this is your comp, give it a go!"


Winners will be announced in Edinburgh in June 2020.







Competition Flyer



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