Geology and man
|Stone, P, McMillan, A A, Floyd, J D, Barnes, R P, and Phillips, E R. 2012. British regional geology: South of Scotland. Fourth edition. Keyworth, Nottingham: British Geological Survey.|
After the final deglaciation of southern Scotland, early humans spread into the region. Evidence for Mesolithic occupation is tantalisingly sparse, but by Neolithic times, about 5000 years ago, there was a well-established population. In that period, and the succeeding Bronze Age, the local rock was utilised for chambered cairns, cup and ring carvings, stone circles and individual standing stones, the latter showing a particular concentration in the Wigtown–Whithorn peninsula. The town of Whithorn was a centre of early Christianity, founded by St Ninian in 397 AD. There, the local Silurian wacke sandstone of the Hawick Group was used for carved religious monuments, a practice that spread across Galloway and beyond from the 5th century onwards.
Since that early time, the interaction between man and the geology of southern Scotland has developed and ramified. Much of the region, particularly that underlain by Lower Palaeozoic rocks and granite, is relatively unproductive upland suited mainly for sheep farming and forestry and is therefore sparsely populated. The bulk of the population is located in scattered towns and villages along the main valleys and on lower ground near the coast where arable farming is possible. Some villages such as Leadhills and Wanlockhead owe their existence to the local lead-zinc mineralisation and would not be there but for that reason. Similarly, towns such as Kirkconnel in Nithsdale and Rowanburn near Canonbie grew rapidly during the heyday of the mined coal industry, but then saw their commercial importance reduce as that industry declined.
The traditional transport links across the region skirt the higher ground, following the coastal lowlands, but the main north–south route crosses the Southern Uplands, rising over the watershed between the catchments of the rivers Annan and Clyde. It was radically developed at the end of the 20th century with the construction of the M74 motorway. One of the main challenges faced by this major engineering project involved the excavation and stabilisation of large cuttings through the Lower Palaeozoic sandstone–mudstone succession. Much of the same route is followed by the railway and other infrastructure features such as gas distribution pipelines. In stark contrast, the Southern Upland Way, a 340 km long-distance footpath, runs from west to east linking Portpatrick, on the Rhins of Galloway, with Cove and Cockburnspath on the North Sea coast. For much of its length the Southern Upland Way traverses the rolling hills underpinned by Lower Palaeozoic strata, and in the west runs through the Galloway Forest Park where it skirts the Doon and Fleet granitic plutons. Celebrated mountain-biking routes are also found in the Forest Park, which comprises about 780 km2 largely devoted to forestry. Its remoteness is well illustrated by its designation in November 2009 as Europe’s first ‘Dark Sky Park’. The Galloway Forest Park attracts about 850 000 visitors each year and demonstrates the importance to the local economy of ‘wilderness tourism’.
Gillanders, R J. 1981. The Leadhills–Wanlockhead mining district, Scotland. The Mineralogical Record, Vol. 12, 235–250.
Hyslop, E, McMillan, A, and Maxwell, I. 2006. Stone in Scotland. Earth Science Series: (Paris: UNESCO, IAEG, Queen’s Printer for Scotland and British Geological Survey.)
Leake, R C, Chapman, R J, Bland, D J, Stone, P, Cameron, D G, and Styles, M T. 1998. The origin of alluvial gold in the Leadhills area of Scotland: evidence from interpretation of internal chemical characteristics. Journal of Geochemical Exploration, Vol. 63, 7–36.
MacDonald, A M, Ó Dochartaigh, B É, Kinniburgh, D G, and Darling, W G. 2008. Baseline Scotland: groundwater chemistry of southern Scotland. British Geological Survey Open Report, OR/08/62.
Musson, R M W. 2004. Early seismicity of the Scottish Borders Region. Annals of Geophysics, Vol. 47, 1827–1847.
Musson, R M W. 2007. British Earthquakes. Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association, Vol. 118, 305–337.
Musson, R M W, and Henni, P H O. 2002. The felt effects of the Carlisle earthquake of 26 December 1979. Scottish Journal of Geology, Vol. 38, 113–125. Robbins, N S, and Buckley, D K. 1988. Characteristics of the Permian and Triassic aquifers of south-west Scotland. Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology, Vol. 21, 329–335.
Scheib, C, Appleton, J D, Miles, J C H, Green, B M R, Barlow, T S, and Jones, D G. 2009. Geological control on radon potential in Scotland. Scottish Journal of Geology, Vol. 45, 147–160.
Stone, P, Cook, J M, McDermott, C, Robinson, J J, and Simpson, P R. 1995. Lithostratigraphical and structural controls on distribution of As and Au in south-west Southern Uplands, Scotland. Transactions of the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy, Section B, Vol. 106, 79–84.
Stone, P, Breward, N, and Merriman, R J. 2003. Mineralogical controls on metal distribution in stream sediment derived from the Caledonides of the Scottish Southern Uplands and English Lake District. Mineralogical Magazine, Vol. 67, 325–338.
Temple, A K. 1956. The Leadhills–Wanlockhead lead and zinc deposits. Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh: Earth Sciences, Vol. 63, 85–113.