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Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Kev found this splendid pair of antlers on the golf course this week. The stags shed their antlers at this time of year. We think they belonged to Brutus, last year's chief stag. They are much heavier than I expected.

On Looking Closer

When I first came to Lochranza I remember pestering the geologists from the Lochranza Centre about what Hutton’s Unconformity was (as I kept hearing it mentioned) and where it was. I knew that this geological feature inspired James Hutton in 1787 to make deductions about the origins of the world that rocked (sorry!) society, but it’s easy to walk along Arran’s north coast and not notice it at all!

This presents a situation where there’s nothing like a good guide to open your eyes as well as your mind, and we were lucky enough to have one during Arran’s GeoFest a couple of weeks ago. SNH’s Colin MacFadyen the guide kept stopping us to reveal how much information is in the fine details that you only see if you look closely. We were encouraged to handle the rocks to differentiate the smooth, the granular and the gritty; we noticed their layers and folds and the angles they lie at in relation to each other. With each revelation Colin pieced together the story of Arran’s slow journey north over 600 million years from a position near the Falkland Islands.

Equally entertaining and informative was the evening talk in the Lochranza Centre given by Dr Neil Clark from Glasgow’s Hunterian Museum about Arran’s dinosaur footprints. We learned that whilst Skye has dinosaur footprints, Arran has dinosaur ancestor footprints- and they’re all around the coast. Look out for a distinctive shape consisting of three large toes, a weedy thumb and a large pinkie which helped these creatures balance as they negotiated unstable terrain.

Arran’s description as ‘Scotland in Miniature’ is spot on in terms of its rocks Dr Clark told us. It contains just about every rock that is present anywhere in the country. In fact there are rumours circulating that Arran is to be designated a Geopark. Meanwhile, I’ve learned to scrutinise rocks more closely to find out the stories they have to tell!