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The Western Highlands of Scotland – Classic Geology in Europe Volume 9

By Con Gillen

9 August 2021


As part of the established series of field guides to areas of Classic Geology in Europe from the academic press Dunedin, this volume is presented as ten chapters covering 8 key suggested geological field itineraries in the iconic Western Highlands of Scotland, written by a distinguished authority on the geology of the region.

The introductory chapter summarises the general geological background to the region, with sections concisely outlining key appropriate geological concepts, definitions and time. Chapter 2 provides a more detailed overview of the geological evolution of the Western Highlands to provide the context to the suggested field itineraries in the main body of the volume. Chapters 3 to 10 cover itineraries in the following areas: Tongue to Lochinver; Lochinver to Assynt; Ullapool to Gairloch and Loch Maree; Gairloch to Kyle of Lochalsh; Kyle of Lochalsh, Glenelg and Glen Roy; Fort William, Glenfinnan, Lochailfort, Ardnamurchan, Strontian; Fort William to Easdale, Kilmartin, Tayvallich and Kilmory; and, Ben Nevis, Glen Nevis, Ballachulish, Glencoe to Loch Lomond.

Each main chapter is presented within its geological context, before detailing particular field itineraries and the significant features that can be seen at each locality, generously supported throughout by numerous colour photographs, maps, tables and figures to illustrate the textual details. The volume contains extensive supporting references for further reading, an appendix, glossary and guide to local Gaelic terms and place names.

This is more than a ‘standard’ geological field guide. All sections are well-written and edited, and concisely laid-out with clear and appropriate figures, photographs and datatables – all features that one has come to expect from this Dunedin series. The inclusion of numerous annotated colour figures and photographs enhance the understanding of the textual details. The volume is particularly recommended to all interested in crustal evolution, notably in metamorphic petrology, geochronology, orogenic tectonics and geodynamics, and is anticipated to be an essential reference source, useable field guide and ‘motivational tool’ for current and future geoscience researchers. In summary, the volume is a comprehensive contemporary addition to this field, and the author and publisher are to be congratulated on this outstanding guide. An authoritative, affordable and recommended read.

Reviewed by Mark Griffin

Classic Geology in Europe Volume 9 – The Western Highlands of Scotland, Con Gillen, 2019. Dunedin Academic Press. Edinburgh and London. ISBN 978-1-78046-040-6. Sbk. 284pp. List Price: £19.99. www.dunedinacademicpress.co.uk