The Scenery of Scotland revisited: retrospective assessment of a classic geomorphological text

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Published in 1865, of The Scenery of Scotland by Archibald Geikie is arguably the first book to employ modern geomorphological principles to explain landscape evolution within a regional context. It appeared during a period of conflicting paradigms, and though it endorsed some now-outdated concepts, it followed the tenets of uniformitarianism: that the form of the land surface is explicable by the operation of surface (fluvial, coastal and glacial) processes operating on rocks of varying age and resistance. It demonstrated that upland landscapes represent dissection, first by rivers, then by glaciers, of uplifted palaeosurfaces; that Scotland was completely buried by glacier ice, then experienced a later period of mountain glaciation; that coastlines underwent both submergence and uplift during and after deglaciation; and that long-term differential erosion created distinctive topographies that reflect the underlying structure and lithology. The book exhibits remarkable insights, some unconfirmed until recently, concerning aspects of river channel evolution, coastal erosion and the interpretation of glacial features. In its various editions, The Scenery of Scotland remained the sole text devoted to the evolution of the Scottish landscape for over a century and its influence continues to resonate with multiple aspects of recent research on the geomorphology of Scotland.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScottish Geographical Journal
VolumeLatest Articles
Early online date15 Apr 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Apr 2021


  • Archibald Geikie
  • Differential erosion
  • Planation surfaces
  • Regional geomorphology
  • The glacial period
  • Uniformitarianism


Dive into the research topics of 'The Scenery of Scotland revisited: retrospective assessment of a classic geomorphological text'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this