Object of the Month - The Moine Thrust

Catriona Wright shares her object- The Moint Thrust

 Catriona Wright, a long-term volunteer at the Lapworth Museum of Geology shares her favourite geological object, a geological formation in the northwest Highlands of Scotland named the Moine Thrust.


I'm Catriona Wright and I'm a volunteer at the Lapworth Museum. My object is the Moine Thrust, which is a geological formation in the northwest Highlands of Scotland. This played a key part in Lapworth’s life and career.

In the 19th century, the basics of geology were being established and this involved vigorous debates. Relationships within geological circles became very fraught. In 1883, Charles Lapworth was at the centre of one of these disputes, what became known as the Highland controversy. On a field trip to the area, he realized that the official interpretation of the formation was incorrect. Bitter conflict with the Geological Survey followed, and this led to a breakdown in his health, and he had nightmares of the Moine rocks grinding over his head as he lay in bed at night.

The correspondence in the archive with other academics, shows that they were sympathetic and supportive. In this letter, a fellow professor Henry Elaine Nicholson writes, I'm sorry you have been ill, it is overwork. How slow and disheartening a process it is to build up and restore an exhausted nervous system. In terms of remedies. He says to the pipe, smoking Lapworth, let us blow a cloud together and unburden our souls. Tobacco rather than alcohol was the stress reliever of choice, it seems. Lapworth recovers, after six months recuperation and goes on to have a long and very distinguished career.  

In 1913, he retires after 31 years in post as Professor of Geology at Birmingham University.