James Hutton

James Hutton (1726-1797), was truly a man of the Earth. Founder of modern geology and farmer in the Scottish Borders, he was a hero of the Scottish Enlightenment.

His dramatic claim that the Earth is aeons old was based on painstaking observation that its surface is being continually recycled and regenerated, and that this process is being powered by heat deep within it. His theory liberated science and philosophy from biblical chronology which put the earth at 6000 years old, and was profoundly believed in at the time.

This website is part of the Scottish Borders James Hutton Trail, which celebrates James Hutton and the geological resource of the Scottish Borders. It is an initiative of the Borders Foundation for Rural Sustainability (www.bfrs.org.uk), in partnership with the families who currently farm the land once owned by Hutton.

Lithographic image - https://blogs.agu.org/magmacumlaude/2014/04/06/edinburgh-arthurs-seat-and-salisbury-crags/

The following are acknowledged with gratitude:

  • National Portrait Gallery of Scotland for the image of James Hutton from the portrait by Henry Raeburn
  • Sir Robert Clerk Bt for use of John Clerk of Eldin's sketches