Landscapes Below: Mapping and the New Science of Geology
View of John MacCulloch's Map of Scotland (1836) mounted on the wall. In foreground case is William Smith's A Delineation of the Strata of England and Wales (1815).
A Map That Was Sixteen Years In The Making
A new exhibition is bringing together everything from the geology guide that Darwin packed for his voyage on the Beagle to a box of diamonds - all in order to celebrate the art of geological map making. And I met the curator of the rock and map display to find out more.
Milstein Exhibition Centre, Cambridge University Library
24 November 2017 – 29 March 2018
The new science of geology flourished throughout Britain during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The countrysides of England, Scotland and Wales exhibited an usually wide range of geological formations, making them ideal places for building a 'bigger picture' of Nature and natural systems. How layers of earth stacked together was a source of significant debate among early geologists, as dramatic distortions of the Earth's crust led to confusion about the original order of deposited sediment that, over time, gradually formed into strata. Surveys and maps were an essential part of the geologist's toolkit in working to uncover how strata ascended and to understand the forces that shaped the visible landscape.
Major breakthroughs, gradual developments, and arguments are played out across the maps, models, specimens, and books in this exhibition. Landscapes Below explores map-making, and how novel interpretations of the British landscape influences our understanding of the Earth.