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Geology Collection

The Geology Collection consists of more than 80,000 specimens (approximately 69,000 rocks, 6,000 fossils and 5,000 minerals).  The Collection contains material from Scotland, Greenland, West Africa, Southern Africa, the Himalayas, Norway and New Zealand, among other countries, including thirteen type specimens. 

The Collection was established in the mid-19th century, with material initially being displayed in the joint Museum of the University and the Literary and Philosophical Society of St Andrews.  It includes material collected by significant Scottish scientists, e.g. minerals from Matthew Forster Heddle (Professor of Chemistry 1862-83), the pre-eminent mineralogist of his era, who single-handedly completed a geological map of Sutherland and published the well-known monograph The Mineralogy of Scotland (1901); and fossils from Robert Meldrum Craig. 

Fossils from the 19th century excavations at nearby Dura Den, which fuelled the debate on evolution, and dredgings from the Challenger expedition (1872-1876), the first major study of the world’s oceans, provide fascinating insights into mankind’s growing understanding of the natural world and are of international importance.  Material of popular interest includes a thin section of limestone from 40 feet below the summit of Mount Everest, collected by Edmund Hillary on the first ascent of Everest on 29th May 1953.

The Geological Collection is extensively used as a teaching collection.  Material continues to be collected through fieldwork and used in research.