Necker’s 1808 Geological Map of Scotland

A piece of art, this was the first geological map produced of the whole of Scotland.

  • Price: £5.95 + P&P
  • Weight (with tube): 200g
  • Dimensions (unfolded): 31x25cm
  • Product: Tubed and rolled Geological Map of Scotland by Necker (1808).

A bit of background on Albert Louis Necker (1786-1861),

“…a geologist and crystallographer who was startled by the oscillating apparent depth seen in engravings of crystals…While Necker’s simple figure is known to many, few are aware that Necker was also a keen mountaineer and lover of Scotland (as is evident from the quotation at the head of this editorial). He spent about half of his adult life in Scotland and was buried in Portree on the Isle of Skye (figure 2). Louis Albert Necker de Saussure was born in Geneva on 10 April 1786 into a distinguished family, the origins of which were in Ireland (Forbes 1863). His maternal grandfather was Horace Be¨ne¨dict de Saussure, alpine explorer and scientist, and the third man to reach the summit of Mont Blanc in 1787. Necker’s father, Jacques Necker, was Professor of Botany at Geneva University,
and he had several other famous relatives. Members of the family are mentioned in Galton’s (1869) Hereditary Genius. As a teenager Necker (like many Europeans) was fascinated by the Ossianic legends (which had been made famous by the embellished English translations of James Macpherson in the 1760s), and learned some Gaelic. He studied geology in Geneva and then went to Edinburgh University in 1806, where he studied chemistry. He enrolled in the classes of Robert Jamieson, and contributed to discussions at the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Wernerian Society. He became friendly with many figures of the Scottish Enlightenment (Forbes 1863). At that time
he toured Scotland, studying its geology, and produced the first geological map of Scotland (Utz 1992). With characteristic delay, his Travels in Scotland and A Voyage to the Hebrides or Western Isles of Scotland were published over a decade later (Necker 1821, 1822). In 1810 he became Professor of Natural Philosophy in Geneva, and published many papers on a wide range of scientific subjects. The winter of 1839 ^ 40 was spent in
Portree, where he completed his major work on European geomorphology Etudes Ge¨ologiques dans les Alpes. He settled permanently in Portree in April 1841, taking lodgings with the Cameron family in Bosville Terrace. Necker was a Calvinist, and was happy to stay with a Free Church family. His interests turned to astronomy, in particular
the Aurora Borealis, or Fir Schliss as he spelled its Gaelic name (Na Fir Chlisöthe Merry Dancers). He went climbing with the glaciologist James Forbes, who visited him in Skye in 1843 and 1845, when they jointly made the first accurate measurement of the heights of Sgurr nan Gillean and Bruach na Frithe. They also made the first accurate map of the Cuillins. Forbes visited Necker again in 1848, but commented that he was socially isolated and dwelling on the past. When he died (on 20 November 1861) he was buried by the Cameron family next to their plot in Portree churchyard.”

Reference: Wade, N.J., Campbell, R.N., Ross, H.E. and Lingelbach, B., 2010. Necker in Scotch perspective.


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