Launch Event: Historical Map of Perth (PSNS+HTT joint project)

Saturday 11 May 2024 marked the culmination of a two-year joint project with the PSNS & Historic Towns Trust: the production of a Historical Map of Perth including many sites of interest over the last one thousand years.

PSNS & HTT Historical Map project Working Group

Speakers at the event were:

John Lewington, former President of the Perthshire Society of Natural Science, gave an introduction

Professor Vanessa Harding, Chair of the Historic Towns Trust, on “Mapping our Shared History”

Theresa Hughes, President of PSNS Archaeology & History Section, on “A Fair Map of Perth”

Dr Mike Robinson, Royal Scottish Geographical Society, on “A Sense of Place”

David Bowler, Director of Alder Archaeology Ltd, on “A Thousand Years in Twenty Minutes – an Overview of Perth”

John Moore, Honorary Secretary of the Historic Towns Trust, gave a vote of thanks.

In the process, we heard how the geological and geographical settings influenced Perth’s location, culture and history.

A video of the event can be viewed on our YouTube channel:

The Map is available in bookstores (Waterstones) and can be ordered online (AmazonUK).

Curious Minds 8.11: The University of St Andrews Photographic Collection

For the last meeting in this PSNS season, Laura Brown, curator of the collection, gave us a guided tour of the photographs available – somewhere between 1.6 and 1.8 million photos(!), some dating back to the earliest days of photography in the late 1830s.

Unfortunately, due to technical issues, a video of the evening will not be available. However, the live link at which the collection can be viewed is:

Curious Minds 8.10: Science and Theology

Professor Mark Harris, director of the Ian Ramsey Centre at the University of Oxford, is both a physicist by training and an ordained Anglican priest. He spoke about the ways the relationship between science and religion and theology can be seen – from outright conflict (which is bigger than the other?) through independence to a dialogue and more.

The video of his talk is available on Youtube:

Curious Minds 8.7: Who’s got the Maintenance Manual for Planet Earth?

For this year’s McAlpine Lecture, Professor James Curran (visiting professor at the University of Strathclyde, amongst many other positions held including former chair of SEPA) spoke to us about the state of climate change.

From problems – CO2 emissions leading to global warming, biodiversity loss, extreme weather events and more – to how our perception of the solutions should change, understanding Sustainable Development of the environment supporting society and the the (circular) economy.

The video can be seen on our Youtube channel:

The Environmental History of the Tay


On Wednesday 17th January Professor Richard Oram spoke about his recently completed two-year project on the environmental history of the Tay, from the arrival of the first hunter-gatherers until the present day. This was an inspiring overview of the mass of material he is about to transform into a series of books. His gallop through the ages revealed a host of fascinating details, not least that the elites’ monopoly of the hunting forests, however unjust, tended to ensure their preservation. Above all we learned how greatly humans have altered the landscape and the river since earliest times and how seemingly untouched rural spots may be sullied by industrial pollution. 

As a policy advisor, Professor Oram is well placed to ensure the lessons of history inform current decision-making.



Curious Minds 8.6: The Impact of Noise on Marine Wildlife

Even to a casual observer it seems obvious that the noise generated by ships, boats, drilling rigs, sonar and other forms of human activity must be a problem for marine creatures.

Yesterday evening, Dr Luke Rendell, from the University of St Andrews, spoke about the extent and detrimental effects of both natural and man-made noise on marine mammals.

This video is available in high quality on our youtube channel:

Curious Minds will return in the new year.

Curious Minds 8.5: Inside the World of Killer Fungi

For the fifth in this series of Curious Minds lectures, Dr Delma Childers (University of Aberdeen) spoke to us about “killer fungi”.

Fungal diseases are an under-appreciated global health threat that are responsible for more than a million deaths per year. Delma is keen to raise public awareness about fungal infections and the growing problem of antimicrobial resistance.

Content Warning:

A couple of the slides have moderate gore. These are preceded by slides with an asterisk in the top-right corner by way of advance warning.

The video can be seen on our youtube channel at

The Archaeology of St Kilda

At the Archaeology & History section’s November meeting, Clare Henderson, an archaeologist with the National Trust for Scotland, introduced us to the archipelago of St Kilda, the UK’s only dual UNESCO World Heritage Site.

She explained the settlement of the islands from prehistory to the famous evacuation of 1930.

We studied both surviving archaeology and the written and photographic records that allow us to tell the island’s story.

A recording of the talk can be seen on youtube:



Curious Minds 8: Video: Next-Generation Batteries

Dr Rob Armstrong (University of St Andrews) gave us a very informative talk about research into battery chemistry – from the history of early NiCd and Li-ion battery designs through LFP and on to sodium-based chemistry options, with a view to what’s best for EV cars, recyclable for home storage and usable as part of grid infrastructure.

View the video of the evening here:

First Curious Minds Season 8 Lecture: Blue Carbon

For the first talk in our 8th Curious Minds season, Professor Bill Austin from St Andrews spoke about “Blue Carbon”.

Oceans absorb 30% of our CO2 emissions and 90% of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases. But some marine habitats can sequester 10 times as much Carbon per acre as a terrestrial forest.

Professor Austin Bill spoke about the potential benefits of Blue Carbon and about government initiatives, both in Scotland and beyond, to conserve this vital and useful habitat.

This video is available in 4k on YouTube:


For further investigation, see:

Project Seagrass:

Blue Carbon at St Andrews:…/sustainability/blue-carbon/

Our YouTube channel with this and other videos:

Our Faacebook page with this and other videos:

You can support our video work via our Patreon page:

Video Talk – 40 years of monitoring rare arctic-alpine plants on Ben Lawers 

by Sarah Watts, Ecologist and Conservation Manager.

Sarah is a plant ecologist with a strong focus on upland vegetation, restoration ecology and applied science. She is the Conservation Manager of Corrour in the Scottish Highlands and is currently researching her part-time PhD entitled “Improving outcomes in montane woodland restoration”. From 2013-2020 she worked as an ecologist for the National Trust for Scotland at Ben Lawers NNR.’

Click here