Hutton




Stone Sculpture by Max Nowell at Lothian Park

...By walking South along the A68 Newcastle Road or through Lothian Park, you arrive at a place called Inchbonny where you will find "Hutton's Unconformity". This is one of the most important geological sites in the world.

James Hutton, a farmer and doctor from Duns in Berwickshire, conceived a theory about the formation of the Earth based upon what he saw in the geological formation of the ground on Arran, at Siccar Point on the Berwickshire coast and here at Inchbonny. Whilst visiting Allar's Mill on the Jed Water, Hutton was delighted to see horizontal bands of red sandstone lying 'unconformably' on top of near vertical and folded bands of rock. He published his "Theory of the Earth" in 1788 and has since become known as the 'founding father' of modern geology.

Scotland and England were once separate landmasses divided by a deep ocean. Over 450 million years ago, they collided causing vertical bands, then sediment was laid down during the next few million years forming bands of sandstone. Hutton was not able to date the geological events as we can today and he thought the sandstone had been deposited in the sea. It must be remembered that he lived in a time where the age of the world was estimated to be between 6,000 and 40,000 years old. Based on what he learned at Inchbonny, Hutton challenged the established philosophical and theological order when he "looked through the abyss of time and found no vestige of a beginning and no prospect of an end" and realised that the formations he found here required the Earth to be very old indeed.