The stones of Stonehenge

The bird struts across the henge as if its owns the place. It is quite a sight itself: large, confident, and long extinct. It was re-introduced here a decade ago but is rarely seen. Great bustards are shy, befitting the fact that they look very edible. This one, for a strange reason, had lost its…

Fossils of Mount Everest

The summit of Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth, is a sea floor. That may come as a surprise; after all, a sea should be at sea level. In practice, there is some flexibility on this. Three seas are below sea level: the Dead Sea, the Salton Sea and the Caspian Sea. All are…

The stones of Calanais

How Scotland met England The stones form an irregular circle, surrounding the taller stone in the centre. On one side of the small hill, an arm from the Atlantic ocean approaches, across a single-lane track. On the other side, a field, a small road and a few houses. Silence reigns: the only sounds come from…

The dancing Earth: continental drift

In hindsight, continental drift should have been obvious. That the Earth moves up and down had been known for centuries, shown by the layered beaches of Sweden, the seashells of the Himalayas, or the sinking harbours of the Med. The drowned and resurfaced Pillars of Pozzuoli became famous as the frontipiece of Charles Lyell’s opus…