The COVID-19 lockdown regime of 2020 provided an unexpected opportunity to catalogue the British Geological Survey’s (BGS) long-neglected and undocumented ‘Wilson Collection’. Held in Edinburgh, this collection is largely comprised of material from the Wanlockhead base-metal mineral veins, and particularly from the Glencrieff Mine. Its approximately 840 specimens represent a century of collecting, from the 1830s to the 1930s, and include a wide range of mineral types, gangue, host rocks, processed ore and smelter residues; some rare mineral species were tentatively identified by the original collectors. These individuals may have been from the several generations of the Wilson family thought to have been involved with the Wanlockhead mines. Liaison with the Edinburgh Geological Society established that the collection had been passed to BGS in the 1950s by their descendant and active Society member, David Lawson Wilson. He is not known to have had any personal involvement with Wanlockhead so may have acquired the collection through family connections and then added specimens of broader provenance. Not all the items catalogued were strictly geological and these exceptions included two surprising First World War souvenirs.


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Cite as

Tulloch, G., Bergman, B., Stone, P. & Togher, M. 2023, 'Archives in lockdown: the curious case of the BGS ‘Wilson Collection’', Geological Curator, 11(8), pp. 508-516. https://doi.org/10.55468/GC1466

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Last updated: 30 November 2023
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