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Cockburn Geological Museum

A small scientific museum housed within the University of Edinburgh's Grant Institute of Geology and Geophysics, located on the King's Buildings Campus on Mayfield Road in south Edinburgh. The collection, which is used in teaching and research, consists of some 120,000 fossils, minerals and rocks, together with maps, slides and various displays.

The origin of the museum dates back to 1873 when Professor Archibald Geikie (1835 - 1924), who held the first Chair of Geology at Edinburgh, founded "a museum for the teaching of geology". It moved with the Geology Department from Old College to its present location in 1932. The collection has been continuously extended ever since. It includes Geikie's field notebooks and the first experimental apparatus for simulating melting in rocks built by Sir James Hall of Dunglass (1761 - 1832).

The mineral collection of Dr Thomas Brown of Waterhaughs and Lanfine (1774 - 1853), described as the largest in Scotland by Prof. Matthew Forster Heddle, was donated by Brown's daughter in 1874. A further rock, mineral and fossil collection that belonged to Sir Charles Lyell (1797 - 1875) was donated by his family in 1927. Sir Fred Stewart (1916 - 2001) donated his collections on his retirement in 1982.

The collections have been housed at the Grant Institute since its opening in 1932. The material was catalogued and arranged by Dr. Alexander M. Cockburn on a voluntary basis and the museum was therefore named in his honour when he died in 1959. Dr. Cockburn was notable for mapping and describing the geology of St. Kilda between 1927 and 1935.

This museum is open to the public by appointment.


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