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Landscapes Below: Mapping and the New Science of Geology

During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the new science of geology flourished throughout Britain. This was a consequence of England, Scotland, and Wales containing unusually wide range of geological formations, making them an ideal place to study the Earth. There was a proliferation of geological surveys undertaken and a new awareness of geo-landscape.

During the period natural philosophers struggled to fully grasp the Earth’s strata and structure. Older strata sat below newer formations, but the dramatic distortions of the Earth’s crust led to confusion about how the layers actually stacked together. First, Geologists’ sought to understand the forces that shaped the visible landscape. They then worked to uncover how the Earth’s layers ascended.

Maps were central to the development of Geology. Major breakthroughs, gradual developments and arguments are played out across the maps in this gallery. Landscapes Below explores map making, and how these new visions of British landscape influenced our understanding of the Earth.