Museum lecture celebrates achievements of a man who mapped the geology of Britain

A section of William Smith's Geological map detailing the Dorset's geology

A section of William Smith’s Geological map detailing the Dorset’s geology

In 1815, William Smith, a land drainer and mineral surveyor born at Churchill in Oxfordshire published the first true geological map of any country.

Smith’s attractive, large, hand-coloured map, A Delineation of the Strata of England and Wales with part of Scotland, was a monumental work (it measures 8 1/2 by 6 feet) which took him fourteen years to complete and on which he worked single-handedly. His aim was to give landowners an indication of where coal was likely to be found, and Smith was careful to include many estates and country seats on his topographical base map. The 410 subscribers to his map included 2 dukes, 5 marquesses, 13 earls, 2 viscounts, 14 lords and 21 baronets as well as at least 32 Members of Parliament, including the Chancellor of the Exchequer. In the course his work, Smith developed the fundamental principles of stratigraphy and recognised the value of fossils in identifying strata. Following the publication of his map, Smith went on to publish a series of cross sections and county geological maps. But his success was to be short-lived. Within five years, Smith’s pioneering geological map was eclipsed by a more detailed map, a collaborative effort by the many members of the Geological Society of London, established in 1807. The similarities between the Geological Society’s map and that of Smith’s did not go unnoticed by Smith’s friends

Tom Sharpe a geologist who spent over thirty five years as a curator in the Department of Geology at the National Museum of Wales where he looked after the world’s largest collection of William Smith’s maps. Will be giving a lecture at the Dorset County Museum at 7.00pm on the 11th March, discussing his research in the history and development of this iconic geological map, which this year marks its bicentenary of publication.

Tom Sharpe is also involved in the planning of events around the country including the Lyme Regis Fossil Festival in May, to mark this year’s bicentenary of William Smith’s map.

Tom Sharpe talk takes place at 6.30pm for 7.00pm on Wednesday 11th March. The event is FREE of charge but a donation of £3.00 is encouraged to cover costs.

For more information phone 01305 756827 or visit


Geology lecture: Landslides in the UK by Dr. Helen Reeves

Dr. Helen Reeves

Dr. Helen Reeves

On Wednesday 12th November 2014 there will be a geology lecture at Dorset County Museum on the subject of landslides.

Dr. Helen Reeves of the British Geological Survey will give an overview of the landslides work undertaken by the British Geological Survey. This this will include a description of the national landslide database, the ways in which landslides are surveyed, monitored and predicted, and the value of these activities to local residents and other interested parties.

Helen is the Head of Science for Engineering Geology at the British Geological Survey. She is a Leeds/ Durham trained engineering geologist, who before joining BGS in 2002, worked in UK-based ground investigation. Much of her research involves investigating the processes and distribution of geohazards, particularly landslides and subsidence, in the UK.

When Helen isn’t busy attending international meetings and studying existing landslides, she enjoys visiting her favourite haunts by campervan.

Her talk will take place on Wednesday 12th November in the Museum’s Victorian Hall. The event is FREE but donations are encouraged to cover costs. The talk starts at 7.00pm and the doors are open from 6.30pm. All are welcome to attend.

For more information of this and other events please Tel: 01305 262735 or visit our website at

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Active Faults & Ancient Places: Archaeoseismology in the Aegean by Prof. Iain Stewart

Professor Iain Stewart

Professor Iain Stewart

Iain Stewart, Professor of Geoscience Communication at the University of Plymouth, is giving a lecture at Thomas Hardye School, Dorchester, on 22nd April 2014. The subject of his talk is Active Faults and Ancient Places: Archaeoseismology in the Aegean.
Professor Stewart is a geologist, well known for presenting several BBC TV series including How Earth Made Us, Journeys From The Centre Of The Earth and Earth: The Power Of The Planet.

The lecture has been organised in partnership between Dorset County Museum and Thomas Hardye School as part of the Community Lecture series. All Community Lectures are well attended and entry is by ticket only – tickets will be available from the Thomas Hardye School office approximately two weeks before the lecture. To avoid confusion, tickets are not available from the Museum. For more ticket information click here

The lecture will take place in the Thomas Hardye School theatre and will commence at 7.00pm.

For further information contact the Museum on 01305 262735 or check the website on

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