Locating field science: a geographical family expedition to Glen Roy, Scotland

H Lorimer, N Spedding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

38 Citations (Scopus)


paper reconstructs the historical geographies of a family holiday and field trip in 1952 to Glen Roy, Scotland, site of the famous Parallel Roads. The puzzle of the Parallel Roads' origin has generated a hefty literature over the years, much of it written by eminent scientists, but is here considered through an episode in the scientific history of Glen Roy that did not make the published record. The primary source is the Murray family's expedition logbook: a private and personal document that records the various aspects of life and work in the field. This is supplemented by the family's oral history. Drawing on concepts from science studies and geography, the paper tries to 'get behind the science' itself to explore the underlying motives and actions that make it happen. These are intrinsically geographical, because they shape, and are shaped by, the relationships between people, ideas and places. Two themes are central to the account of these other historical geographies of this trip to Glen Roy. The first of these is the coming together of a distinctly local community of knowledge in the Badenoch Field Club in the early 1950s. The second, revealed by the logbook's emphasis on storytelling, travelling and residing, is the way in which the presence of the family in the field changes the ways in which the site of scientific investigation is experienced and understood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-33
Number of pages21
JournalBritish Journal for the History of Science
Publication statusPublished - 2005




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