The 500 million year story of Ayrshire

FOR the past six years the friends of the McKechnie Institute have held a very well attended annual lecture commemorating the Scots engineer Thomas Duncan who was born near Girvan in 1865 and emigrated to the US in 1882.

This year the lecture was delivered by Denis Rattenbury and concerned the 500 million year story of the making of Ayrshire’s landscape.

Starting in the Ordovician period, Denis described how the movement of the tectonic plates created the Caledonian mountains and how shallow seas formed and left behind abundant fossils.

During the Devonian period Scotland’s landmass migrated from equatorial regions, and during the Carboniferous coal bearing rocks were deposited in coastal swamps with significance for Ayrshire and locally in the Girvan valley.

In the Permian period, thick beds of Sandstone formed in what is now Mauchline and were quarried and used to build the McKechnie Institute itself.

During the Tertiary period, rocks formed of molten magma from volcanoes in the inner Hebrides. There is much evidence of this in the form of volcanic vents throughout Ayrshire and the igneous intrusion of Ailsa Craig created about 60 million years ago.

After this the landscape ‘rebounded’ producing raised beaches and our wonderful links golf courses.