Edinburgh Natural History Society


The society in the early days.

"The Edinburgh Naturalists’ Field Club was instituted in 1869 for the practical study of natural history in all its branches. For a number of years the work of the club was carried on by a series of field meetings only held during May, June and July. At the Annual General Meeting in November 1879 it was agreed to hold evening meetings, which met with a large measure of success."

These opening sentences of Volume One of the Transactions published in 1881 show how the Society developed in its early days, creating the pattern of lectures and excursions to which it largely conforms today. A certain amount of microscopical work was carried on and this was recognised a few years later by the adoption of the title Edinburgh Field Naturalists and Microscopical Society.

This was how the Society continued to be known until the merger with the Scottish Natural History Society in 1921, when the present title was adopted. Until 1915 lengthy and well-bound volumes were published, recording all the activities of the Society both indoor and outdoor. The exigencies of the 1914 -18 war brought the publication of the transactions to an end, and it was not until 1965, with the appearance of the annual Newsletter that the practice was resuscitated.

The Scottish Natural History Society was founded in 1881. While it also had a syllabus which included field meetings and lectures (which at first continued throughout the summer), its emphasis might be described as slightly more academic. Throughout its independent existence, it had among its office-bearers a galaxy of scientific talent, as the names indicate viz. Professors J Cossar Ewart, Chair of Natural Philosophy, James Geikie, Chair of Geology, both of Edinburgh University; James W H Trail, Chair of Botany, Aberdeen University, and Dr B N Peach, the distinguished geologist.

Many of the places to which we resort today for field meetings were well trodden by our forebears, who likewise were assiduous in seeking out areas of exploration such as Balerno, Penicuik, Tentsmuir, Coldingham, St Abbs, Hermitage and Aberlady Bay. With the ease of transportation we have been able to follow a more ambitious programme and visit such places as Farne Islands, Cairngorms, Dumfries & Galloway for weekend excursions.

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This page was last updated on 16/02/2016.