James Bryce Bryce.

Geology of Clydesdale and Arran : embracing also the marine zoology and the flora of Arran, with complete list of species, notes on the rarer insects of Arran, and notices of its scenery and antiquities online

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Online LibraryJames Bryce BryceGeology of Clydesdale and Arran : embracing also the marine zoology and the flora of Arran, with complete list of species, notes on the rarer insects of Arran, and notices of its scenery and antiquities → online text (page 1 of 21)
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^ Greenstones, basalt, &.










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THE first portion of the following work was prepared in the summer
of 1855, at the request of the Local Committee of the British
Association, then about to assemble in Glasgow. As no connected
account of the Geological formations of Clydesdale at that time
existed, the Committee was desirous that such an outline should be
drawn up as might serve for a guide to the study of the coal series,
of the tertiary formations, and evidences of glacial action, for which
the neighbourhood of the city is so celebrated. To this request the
Author willingly acceded; and to the sketch then printed he appended
a notice of some new views regarding the structure of Arran.

At the request of many friends, who deemed that fuller notices
of the Clydesdale formations would be useful and acceptable, a
new and enlarged edition is now published ; and as Mr. Ramsay's
excellent Guide to Arran has been for some time out of print, an
entirely new account of the structure of this interesting island has
been added, embodying the observations made during many summer
rambles among its romantic glens and mountains. That the work
may serve also as a general Guide to Arran, descriptions of the
scenery and antiquities have been introduced.

Happily, within the last few years Botany and Marine Zoology
have been attracting an increased number of cultivators; and as
Arran is a highly interesting field in these departments also, the
Author considered that their study would be promoted, and the
wants of the student met, by combining an account of the Flora and
Marine Fauna of Arran with that of the Geology. At his request the



Rev. Dr. Miles, well known to naturalists for his researches in the
Clyde, conducted under the auspices of the British Association, has
kindly drawn up a pretty full account of the more remarkable
creatures inhabiting the Arran shores. To those engaged in scien-
tific inquiries, the complete list of species which he has added,
brought down to the time of his leaving Glasgow for a more impor-
tant sphere of labour in Malta, will prove welcome and useful. The
account of the Flora of Arran has been drawn up by the Author's
eldest son. To Professor Balfour, of Edinburgh, his best thanks are
due for the permission kindly granted to make use of his catalogue
of Arran plants. The list of plants and localities now given has
been thus considerably extended.

The Author has also to acknowledge his obligations to H. T.
Stainton, Esq. of Mountsfield, near Lewisham, whose high reputa-
tion as an entomologist is well known, for the notes which he has
most kindly supplied on the rarer insects of Arran.

In examining the lower members of the coal series in the Campsie
district, the Author was directed and assisted by Mr. John Young,
then of Lennoxtown, now of the Hunterian Museum, Glasgow .
Two of the illustrative cuts in the early part of the work, and many
facts there stated, were supplied by him. Many important facts
were also kindly supplied by James King, Esq. of Levernholm,
regarding the lower coal series. Through the kindness of the Rev.
David Landsborough of Kilmarnock, son of the late distinguished
naturalist, the Author was put in communication with John M'Kin-
lay, Esq. of Bonnington, near Edinburgh ; and from this well known
archaeologist much valuable information has been received. The
accompanying map has been reduced by Messrs. W. & A. K. John-
ston from the Admiralty Survey of 1846. According to Mr. Paul
Cameron, the magnetic variation in the Frith of Clyde at present
amounts to 26 35' W., with a decrease of 4' to 5' per year, westerly.

GLASGOW, 25th May, 1859.




Introduction: Human Period

Actual surface Superficial deposits Clyde canoes

Shell beds, 1 1-3 1-5

Tertiary Period

Raised beaches Boulder clayArctic shells, . 4-9 5-9
Glacial Phenomena

Scratched boulders Striated rocks Roches Mou-

tonnees Moraines, . . . . . 10-13 9-15

Carboniferous Rocks

Physical boundaries Ballagan series and Campsie
beds Divisions of the Clydesdale coal series, and
sections of strata Physical geography of the coal

period, .. 14-26 15-36

Old Red Sandstone-
Its limits on the Clyde shores Its cornstones

Chemical changes by whin dikes, f . . 27,28 36-40
The Old Slates

Their limits and relations Plutonic rocks and meta-
morphic action Theory of the origin of basalt
^Limestone of the old slates, . . ; . 29-32 40-46


Outline of its Geology

The slates Sandstone and coal measures Ochre
beds and lignites Singular chemical changes by
trap dikes, .- . ... . . 34-40 47-60

The Cumbraes, . . .* . . 41 60



Physical Features

Mountain nucleus Hill ranges Heights of moun-
tainsSouthern plateau, . . . . 42, 43 61-64

Outline of the Geology

Abnormal position of the granite Limits of the
other rocks Coarse and fine granite Age of
the sandstones, . . . . . . 44-48 64-71

The Outlying Granites

Ploverfield granite Granite of Craig-Dhu Dis-
cussion of the age of the various granites, . . 49-54 71-79
The Trappean Rocks

Their limits Mineral distinctions Dikes Their

number and range, ...... 55-57 79-84

Glacial Phenomena

Evidences of glacial action Dispersed blocks

Special phenomena of A rran, . . . . 58-60 84-91


I. To the Summit of Cior-Mhor

Its advantages as a first excursion The Brodick
Monolith Brodick limestone, and section of strata
Glen Rosa Granite junction The Garbh-Alt
chasm Grand scenery Dikes of pitchstone and
basalt Mountain plants The Ceims Jagged
outline due to dikes Summit of Cior-Mhor
Effects of light, 61-69 92-105

II. To the Corriegills Shore

The coast sandstones Dikes of greenstone, clay-
stone, and pitchstone The great boulder Scenery
The Dunfion range, and old fort Pitchstone
and porphyry New fossil Evening aspects, 70-77 106-116

III. To the Summit of Goatfell

Meaning of the name Section on the ascent
Junction at Milldam, and singular dike Cyclo-
pean walls View from the summit Maoldon
Granite junction The great Corrie boulder, 78-84 116-123

IV. The Way-side Museum, .... 85 124, 125
V. The North Shore

Corrie as a centre for excursions The Corrie
beds Granite boulders The Anticlinal axis
Carboniferous strata, and list of fossils Uncon-
formable beds at Newton Point Loch Ranza
Castle Scenery Evening at Catacol, . 86-92 126-135



VI., VII., VIII. The west coast Interior of the nucleus
Return to Corrie Granite junction and glacial
strise, . . . . .- . 93-95 135-139

IX. The Holy Isle-

Structure Sandstone and clinkstone Dikes
Granite blocks Shell beds Legend of St.
Molios, ....... 96, 97 139-141

X. To Windmill Hill and Ploverfield

Kilmichael The Hamilton family Columnar
porphyry, granite, syenite, and sandstone
Amethysts in sandstone Bein-Leister Glen, 98, 99 141-144

XI. To Ceim-na-Cailliach and the Castles-

Crystals of smoke quartz The Carlin's Step

Grand scenery, 100 144,145

XII. Glen Sannox and Glen Rosa

Ancient chapel The Sannox burn Great dike
on the col Chasm in the granite Adders
The Rosa burn Singular meteorological
phenomena The Arran Sabbath, . . 101, 102 145-148


The String Road Craig-Dhu granite Clachan Glen
Travelled blocks of fine granite The Tonnore pitch-
stones King's Cove Drumadoon Blackwater-foot
The Tormore circles Leac-a-Breac Scorodale
Lag and Benan-head Kildonan Castle Dippen
Whiting Bay Glacial strias Pitchstones of Monead-
Mhor Glen, ,. . . . . '. . 103148-156


General views regarding the relations of the Arran Flora

to that of the tracts adjoining, . . .- . 104-107156-164
List of plants, . . . . ... 108164-172


Detailed notices regarding the habits and characters of

the more interesting species, . . . . 109-116 173-190
Complete list of species, with localities, . . . 117191-207

Notices of rare species, .... 118 208, 209



FEW parts of Scotland present so rich a field of geological inquiry
as the district of Clydesdale. In none certainly are the facilities so
great for studying the varied phenomena of a large class of forma-
tions. Even within the compass of its capital city, monuments
exist of many successive revolutions in physical geography and
organic life ; beneath her streets are entombed the remains of a vast
extinct creation ; the foundations of her teeming warehouses and
crowded quays are laid amid the mouldering works of a Primeval
Race ; while between these extremes there is interposed a long series
of terms indicating a progressive advance towards the existing forms
of animal life and aspects of the surface. Of scarcely less interest
are the shores of the noble Frith, which present a complete suite of
the older formations ; while among its islands Arran has long been
celebrated as exhibiting a greater variety of geological phenomena
than perhaps any other tract of like area on the surface of the globe.
In the following pages a few brief notices are given of the various
deposits, their fossil contents, and the best points for studying the
relations of the strata, in order to direct the researches of future
inquirers, and to aid those who are beginning the study of the science.


1. The city of Glasgow stands on the great coal field of Scotland,
about seven miles from its north-west border. Within its bounds the
several "measures" of this formation, sandstone, shale, clay, iron-
stone and coal, crop out in many places ; but the surface is generally
covered with newer deposits. The site of the smaller portion on the
south side of the river is a level plain, composed of ancient estuary


or fluviatile accumulations. A narrow strip on the north, through-
out the whole length of the city, is of the same character. North
of this, the ground rises with considerable rapidity in a series of
elliptic-shaped hills, from 100 to 250 feet above the plain, their longer
axes being parallel to the course of the river, here west-north-west.
The principal heights are Garngad hill, 252 feet 6 inches ; Necro-
polis, 225 feet; Garnethill, 176 feet 7 inches; Blythswood hill,
135 feet 3 inches ; Woodlands hill, 153 feet ; Billhead, 157 feet ;
Observatory, 179 feet 5 inches ;* Jordanhill, two miles west, 145
feet. Some of these were originally a little higher, the tops having
been levelled to afford a broader space for the erection of buildings.
The elevations give a pleasing variety to the city, and afford striking
views of the distant Highland mountains, and the fine amphitheatre
of nearer hills, which close in on all sides, except the east, the un-
dulating and well-wooded basin, intersected by the lower course ot
the Clyde.

2. Apart from deposits now in progress, the latest formation is that
of the estuary and fluviatile accumulations above referred to. These
are spread out continuously on both sides of the river, but more
widely on the south side, from Butherglen, three miles above
Glasgow, to near Erskine, ten miles below it, the former being the
upward limit of the tide before it was obstructed by works connected
with the improvement of the navigation, the latter the termination
of the river in the estuary, and the limit of the ascent of salt water.
The deposit consists throughout of laminated beds of sand and loam,
with thin courses and streams of gravel and layers of peat. Marine

fa a} Carboniferous beds; (b b) Till and lower sand beds; (c) river Clyde, (d d) post-pleiocene, or raised beaches,-
(ef) estuary deposits of the human period.

shells have been found sparingly in its middle and lower parts, and
a few fresh water species in the upper beds ; but no collection has
been formed of these interesting objects, so that we cannot describe
the fossil contents more minutely. The deposit has been tranquilly
formed throughout, long periods of repose having been but rarely
interrupted by floods. Ancient rude canoes have been found in
various parts of it, deeply embedded in the sand and loam, one at

* These heights are given on the authority of Mr. Thomas Kyle, Civil Engineer


either end of the area, and a great many on the banks of the river at
Glasgow; some at heights 10 or 12 feet ahove the highest level
reached by the greatest floods on record in the Clyde. Eespecting
these, the following particulars have been kindly furnished by John
Buchanan, Esq., the well-known archaeologist of this city, who
carefully noted at the time the circumstances attending the discovery
of those more recently foundj

" Within the last eighty years, no less than sixteen of these interesting
remains of aboriginal workmanship have been found in and near Glasgow.
They are all, with one exception, formed of single oak trees, in some in-
stances by the action of fire, in others by tools evidently blunt, probably
of stone, and therefore referable to a period so remote as to have preceded
the knowledge of the use of iron. The first known instance was in 1780.
The canoe lay under the foundations of the old St. Enoch's church, at a
depth of 25 feet from the surface that is about the level of low water in
the river below Argyle Street and within it was a stone hatchet of
polished greenstone, in good preservation. It is now in the possession of
C. Wilsone Broune, Esq., of Wemyss Bay. The second, in 1781, while
excavating the foundations of the Tontine, at the Cross, the surface being
here 22 feet above high water. A third, in 1824, in Stockwell Street, in
a deep cutting opposite the mouth of Jackson Street. The fourth was
found, in 1825, in the cuttings for a sewer in London Street, on the site of
the ' Old Trades' Land : ' the canoe was vertical, the prow uppermost,
and a number of shells were inside. The next discovery was made in 1846,
when the improvements in the river began to be actively carried out.
Eleven canoes were discovered in a short period. Of these, five were
found on the lands of Springfield, opposite the lower portion of the
harbour ; five more on the property of Clydehaugh, west of Springfield ;
and one in the grounds of Bankton, adjoining Clydehaugh. The ten were
in groups together, 19 feet below the surface, and above 100 yards south
from the old river bank, which was then where the middle of the stream
now is. The twelfth canoe was brought up by the dredging machine, on
the north side of the river, a few yards west from the Point House, where
the Kelvin enters. The Erskine specimen was found in 1854. It was
taken out by Mr. Taylor, who has charge of the ferry, nearly entire. To
test its capabilities, he had it partially supported on a raft, and floated in
it across the stream.

" A collection of these canoes is now preserved in a building in the
College grounds ; and single specimens may be seen in Stirling's Library,
Miller Street ; the Andersonian Museum, George Street ; ferry house,
Erskine ferry, ten miles below Glasgow ; and in the hall of the Society
of Antiquaries, Edinburgh."*

* Mr. Buchanan has since published a very full and interesting account of these
curious remains in Glasgow Past and Present, vol. iii.

3. The conclusion is forced upon us by these facts that the entire
area was at a remote time covered by an estuary, connected with the
sea by a narrow strait near Erskine, where the hills on either side
press close upon the stream ; whose limits reached inland almost as
far as Johnstone and Paisley, narrowed upward by the projecting
Ibrox and Pollokshields ridges, but again widening out, so as to
wash the base of the Cathkin and Cathcart Hills, and sweeping round
north-east in a wide bay, so as to cover the space now occupied by the
Glasgow Green and suburbs of Bridgeton. The river then entered
about Bothwell or Butherglen ; and the northern shore was formed
by the lower slopes of the hills already alluded to, and their contin-
uations north-west by Partick, Jordanhill, and Yoker to the vici-
nity of Erskine. At even higher levels within the city Mr. Robert
Chambers has traced well-marked terraces, which he considers the
beaches of a former sea ; and as far up as near the summit level of
Sauchiehall Street, about 25 paces west of the Wellington Arcade,
a marine deposit with shells was discovered in 1850, and described
by Mr. William Ferguson.* The beds were, sand 2 feet; peat
1 foot, and sand again not passed through ; whole depth, 9 feet.
In the inferior sand bed there were marine shells, but specimens of
troclius ziziphinus only were preserved. The height above high
water is here 94 feet 8 inches, and is the greatest at which recent
marine deposits are known to exist within the city. Whether this
bed is a remnant of the extensive estuary deposit above noticed it is
impossible to say, nor is it of much importance to inquire, as recent
shelly deposits exist in the basin of the Clyde at like and even much
greater elevations, in situations which we cannot suppose to have
been continuously occupied by the estuary in question, and whose
origin is certainly very different, far removed from the human period
to which the canoe beds are referable. Even this era the " stone
period" of Scottish archaeologists lies far back in pre-historic time
how far we have no means of knowing. Nearly 2,000 years ago
the Roman wall was constructed between the Forth and Clyde
from Bowling to Grangemouth ; and, as Mr. Smith of Jordanhill
has happily pointed out, no oscillation in level has taken place since
that time. This singular work had precise reference even to the
present tide levels. How remote, then, must be the time when the
quiet waters of the estuary laved the hill sides, now covered by busy
thoroughfares ; and a race whose other memorials are lost navigated
in these rude canoes the broader waters of the river, whose narrowed

* Transactions of the Philosophical Society of Glasgow, vol. iii., p. 147.

stream now floats the largest ships, and brings to our doors the
choicest products of the globe.

Mr. Robert Chambers, in his interesting and prettily illustrated
work on " Ancient Sea Margins," has some judicious observations on
the connection of these deposits with those of other parts of Scot-
land, especially in the estuaries of the Forth and Tay, pp. 206-208.


4. The beds just described overlie towards their margin another
series, occupying a peculiar place, and presenting a marked organic
sequence, which links on the tertiary age to the existing order of
things, and affords another amid the now oft-recurring examples of
passages from group to group, which almost defy classification, and
show us how past creations shade off into the present, continuously,
without a chasm. The deposits in question are well known to geolo-
gists as the Clyde Beds, the discovery of which, with an interesting
account of their natural history, we owe to Mr. Smith of Jordan-
hill. According to his classification, they are as follows, in descend-
ing order :

1. Post-Pleiocene, or Raised Beaches.

2. Pleistocene, Newer Pleiocene, the Till, or Boulder clay of the glacial


3. Sands, gravels, and clays, resting on the Carboniferous formations or

on the overlying trap rocks.

Post-Pleiocene, or Raised Beaclies.

5. When we pass from the river Clyde into the frith at Dum-
barton, both shores are seen to be marked by a well defined
terrace, 10 to 20 feet above the present tide level, and bounded
inland by a steep cliff. The Greenock railway, from the Bishopton
tunnel to Greenock, runs along this terrace ; and it is equally
well defined upon the Cardross side, from the Leven mouth by
Helensburgh to Gareloch-head. The watering places of Gourock,
Kempoch, and Ashton, and on the opposite side that of Kilcreggan,
stand upon it. In Roseneath peninsula it is extremely well defined
and traceable round the whole shore. Everywhere, indeed, upon
the shores of the Frith and its islands the same terrace is
clearly marked ; nor less so on the west coast, from the Crinan canal,
by Oban, up the shores of Loch Linnhe, on Loch Fyne, &c., and
along it in most parts of these shores the coast road is carried. The
cliff, which bounds it inland at a distance varying from a few yards,


as on the north shore of Arran, to a quarter of a mile, and even half
a mile, as in parts of the Eoseneath and Renfrewshire shores, is every-
where sea- worn, and hollowed out into caves ; the terrace is covered
with shingle greatly sea-worn ; it is flat and difficult to drain ;
the elevation seldom passes 40 feet; usually it is considerably
less. Mr. Smith was the first to point out that at the level
which the land then had for it is the land that has been raised, and
not as Mr. Chambers would explain the appearances, the sea that
has subsided it must have stood for a much longer period than that
which has elapsed (2,000 years) since the Eoman works in this
country were constructed. The great length of the caves, of which
Professor James Nichol has given a remarkable instance on Davar
island at Campbelton* as well as other cases of wearing, such as the
projection of the harder veins in the rocks, the overhanging of the cliffs,
&c., clearly prove this. In these caves and on the terrace, sea-shells of
species now existing in the adjoining sea, occur abundantly and in
many places. An interesting case at Kothesay was published in the
Witness, July 1855, by Dr. Hugh Miller. One of the most re-
markable as regards elevation which has come under the notice of
the writer of these memoranda is the steep terrace at Eoseneath
house, a seat of the Duke of Argyll, which is shown in the annexed
cut. The heights were kindly furnished by Mr. Lome Campbell of

(a) Upper slopes, on which the offices stand i (b) Sea-worn cliff of old red sandstone, called Wallace's lov.pi
(c) Terrace of former beach, on which JZoseneath house stands,- (d) Sea level,

The upper terrace is 79 feet high, the lower north portico of
Eoseneath house 42 feet ; shells broken and mixed with sea- weed are
found on both terraces, 2 or 3 feet below the surface ; on the upper
terrace in hollows 68 feet above high water. The bed in Sauchiehall
Street, Glasgow, is probably of this age, though somewhat higher
(Art. 3) . At Johnstone, near Paisley, a case is mentioned by Mr.
Smith, in which sea-shells, bones of fishes and sea-birds, claws of crabs,
and sea-weed were found at about 80 feet elevation, resting on Till beds
70 feet thick. The brickfields about Glasgow and Paisley abound in
these shells ; in the neighbourhood of Jordanhill the beds are 80 feet
above the river, the shells being almost always at a considerable

* Jour, Geol. Soc., vol. viii., 1852.

depth ; 30 feet in some cases mentioned by Mr. Smith. The
Paisley fields are to the north-west of the railway station ; they yield
a good many species. At Dalmuir, north of Erskine, a shelly deposit
described by Dr. Thomas Thomson* has yielded 70 species. Beds
on the east shore of Lochlomond, two miles north-west of the mouth
of the Endrick, and 10 feet above the highest level of the lake ; also
beds at the south-east angle of the lake, and on the summit of Inch
Lonach island opposite Luss, gave to Mr. Adamson about 12
species. f Captain Laskey found 22 species four miles from Glasgow,
in cuttings of the Paisley Canal, 40 feet above the level of the
Clyde. J The age of these beds has not been accurately determined ;
it must depend upon the proportion of Arctic species ; but they seem
referable to the upper or post-pleiocene division. Space does not permit
an enumeration of other cases, of which several might be mentioned
at much greater altitudes, though not in the vicinity of Glasgow.
The shells are generally of a littoral character, much worn and broken,
and about 160 species have been noticed. Of the same age and con-
nected with these are many sand, gravel, and clay beds without shells.

The Boulder Clay.

6. This remarkable deposit, whose original mode of formation has
excited such active discussion among geologists, was long since

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Online LibraryJames Bryce BryceGeology of Clydesdale and Arran : embracing also the marine zoology and the flora of Arran, with complete list of species, notes on the rarer insects of Arran, and notices of its scenery and antiquities → online text (page 1 of 21)