James Hutton: the forgotten Berwickshire farmer

The talk will cover Hutton’s contributions both as an innovative farmer and a skilled natural philosopher. His contribution on heat and plant growth was a world-first and his insights into fertility and the physico-chemical properties of soils was far ahead of his contemporaries. He also provided the experimental justification for measuring atmospheric humidity by “wet and dry” thermometers still used today

James Hutton (1726-97) is best known as the ‘Father of Modern Geology’ encapsulated in his 1788 statement in Theory of the Earth – “we find no vestige of a beginning, no prospect of an end”. In so doing he not only liberated geology from its biblical straight jacket of 6000 years of geological time, but also provided a mechanism whereby the surface of the earth underwent constant renewal. It is not so widely known that Hutton was also a farmer, and there is strong evidence that it was observing soil erosion on his Berwickshire farm at Slighhouses in the 1750s and 60s that triggered his later passion for geology. At the end of his life, he brought together his practical experience of farming, with extensive later reading and experiments in his unpublished manuscript Elements of Agriculture.

The Society is pleased to present this talk by Professor Alan Werritty, Emeritus Professor of Physical Geography, University of Dundee, 2.30 PM on Saturday 28th October, 2023 at the Maitlandfield House Hotel, Haddington.

Non-members welcome – a small cash donation appreciated

By eastlothianantiquarians

The East Lothian Antiquarian and Field Naturalists’ Society, established in 1924, is a membership organisation and a charity. Member events include outings and a copy of the Transactions for just £15/annum. We also welcome short contributions from members for the website.