The Hugh Miller Writing Competition 2019-2020

The Hugh Miller Writing Competition carries the name of one of Scotland’s most remarkable geologists, Hugh Miller (1802-1856), and aims to honour his legacy by inspiring new, original prose and poetry on the theme of Scotland’s geoheritage. The competition is organised by the Scottish Geodiversity Forum and The Friends of Hugh Miller.

For the 2019-2020 writing competition, poetry and prose entries were invited that were inspired by one or more of the “51 Best Places to See Scotland’s Geology.” The list, compiled by a panel of experts, aims to help you find out more about Scotland’s geological heritage, and guide you to the best places to see different elements of the story laid out in our country’s beautiful landscapes. You can find full details here: www.scottishgeology.com/best-places.

We hope that these writing competitions, open to all ages, will encourage both a renewed interest in Miller’s work, and contribute to a catalogue of new writings inspired by one of Scotland’s greatest nature writers. We also aim to highlight the role that Scotland’s geology plays in our daily lives and foster greater awareness and appreciation of Scotland’s geodiversity.

“Hugh Miller is one of the writers who gave me ‘deep-time spectacles’; his remarkable prose helped me, as it has helped so many people, to see back into earth history, and read our planet’s ancient past from its present surface. He was, really, a visionary, and it is wonderful to see him still celebrated today.”
Robert Macfarlane, author of Mountains of the Mind, The Wild Places, Landmarks


Thanks to everyone for the support the competition has received, and all the lovely entries that were made. Winning entries are listed below:

Under-18s: Poetry

1st: The Standing Stones of Stenness Claire Rinterknecht
2nd: Spey Bay through the Seasons Adela Margallo
3rd: Cairngorms Penny Capewell
Highly-commended: Hugh Miller Limerick Charlie Torley
Highly-commended: The Heart of Neolithic Orkney Mia Chisholm

Under-18s: Prose

1st: Luing Kate Knight
2nd: The Isle of Staffa Daisy Stewart Henderson
3rd: Smoo Cave: A Natural Wilderness  Rebekah Macpherson
Highly commended: The Mermaid’s Stone Bay Rochford

Middleton-Miller Prize for Promising Young Writer (age 18-25 category)

The Testimony of the Rocks (Siccar Point) Jack Cooper

Adults: Poetry

1st: Highland Boundary Fault, Balmaha  Alison Cohen
Highly-commended in poetry: A Stone’s Throw from Easdale Carol Shea
Highly-commended in poetry: The ‘Old Man’ Teeters Stuart Graham

Adults: Fiction

1st: Cinder Toffee Vee Walker
Vee Walker’s recipe for Knockan Crag Cinder Toffee

Adults: Non-Fiction

1st: Moving with Granite Anna Fleming
Highly-commended in prose: Pilgrimages of Wonder Rhona Steel


Winning Entries from the first two competitions

Testimonies of the Rocks: the Hugh Miller Writing Competition 2015-16
1st place in prose: Jane Verburg
2nd place in prose: Antonia Thomas
3rd place in prose: Jim Gilchrist
Highly commended in prose: Paula Hunter
Highly commended in prose: Màiri Anna NicUalraig (Mary Ann Kennedy)

1st place in poetry: Justin Sales
2nd place in poetry: Kenneth Steven
Joint 3rd place in poetry: Jim Mackintosh
Joint 3rd place in poetry: Michael Davenport
Highly commended in poetry: Elizabeth Pickett

Under 16 Prose winner: Mackenzie Robbie
Under 16 Poetry winner: Annabelle Fuller

Footprints in the Sand: the Hugh Miller Writing Competition II 2017-18
Prose Winner: Thomas Halliday, University of Birmingham School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Prose Runner-up: Ross Barnett, University of Durham
Poetry Winner: Alex Woodcock, Published writer / poet – and a stonemason
Poetry  Runner-up: Gillian Dawson, Renfrewshire
Highly commended in Poetry: Alison Seller, Cromarty
Highly commended in Poetry: Fiona Ritchie Walker, Published poet, Montrose


Many thanks to our competition partners for 2019-2020, both for their ongoing support and for donating prizes.

Scottish Geodiversity Forum – scottishgeodiversityforum.org
The Friends of Hugh Miller – thefriendsofhughmiller.org.uk
British Geological Survey (BGS) – https://www.bgs.ac.uk/
Geopoetry 2020 – https://www.geolsoc.org.uk/geopoetry20
Dynamic Earth – dynamicearth.co.uk
Edinburgh Geological Society – edinburghgeolsoc.org
Scottish Centre for Geopoetics – geopoetics.org.uk
Lochaber Geopark – lochabergeopark.org.uk
Cromarty Arts Trust – cromartyartstrust.org.uk
The Hunterian, Glasgow – www.gla.ac.uk/hunterian/
Mr Woods Fossils – www.mrwoodsfossils.co.uk
The National Museums Scotland – www.nms.ac.uk
The National Trust for Scotland – www.nts.org.uk

Our school-age winners will be given the opportunity to read at the Geopoetry2020 event in October 2020:  https://www.geolsoc.org.uk/geopoetry20

Helping SNH to promote the Scottish Fossil Code: If collecting fossils in Scotland, please do so responsibly and follow the advice on best practice in the collection and storage of fossil specimens outlined in the Scottish Fossil Code.  The Code may be viewed and downloaded from: www.nature.scot