Yes, of course. I mean there is that sense of, you know, the Highlands being discovered as a sort of natural laboratory and that’s vital in two respects. One, of course, is botany so people are desperately concerned to see the Highlands as a sort of space for ... I suppose what you might call understanding the botanical significance in order that the plants can be used medically but then, of course, as pharmacology, the sort of mass production of these things, you move away from the medical basis in plants. And the other area of work is geology. The Highlands, of course, present some of the oldest rocks in the world so the north west Highlands with Horne and Peach and the development of the Geological Survey of Scotland from the 1880s with the work of the Geikie as well, the Highlands become a really significant scientific space. What’s ironic, of course, is by this time the Highlands are being emptied in a whole variety of ways, even as they become significant geologically, certainly so geologically, botanically, and of course we have two other great scientific projects at work in the nineteenth century Highlands, even as the people themselves are being emptied from their habitual places of living and work. One is the Bathymetrical Survey and the other is the Admiralty Charting so the Highlands are, for perhaps the first time, being put to a consistent cartographic order. The shape of Scotland, if you like, is becoming more and more known.

  • Charles Withers
Thursday 17th June 2010