Tuesday, 26 February 2013

The Bindon Landslip of 1839

view from Great Bindon - Coneybeare and Buckland monograph
low-res image from Lyme Regis Museum scan
It's probably obvious that I have a bit of an obsession with the coastal landslip terrain of the English south coast. In that vein, I found a real treat yesterday: a new page from Lyme Regis Museum, The Bindon Landslip of 1839, which hosts a high-resolution scan of Conybeare and Buckland's rare monograph Memoir and Views of Landslips on the Coast of East Devon &c. 1840 (with artwork by William Dawson and Mary Buckland).

I've mentioned this classic landslip before: Clare and I visited in June 2010 (see Undercliff: visited at last), and I also wrote about its featuring in Sabine Baring-Gould's 1900 novel Winefred, a story of the chalk cliffs (see Seaton, slips and Sabine Baring-Gould).

Nowadays, the terrain is heavily overgrown, and has been described as "the nearest thing to a jungle in Britain". But the local geologists the Rev William Conybeare and Dr William Buckland visited it shortly after it happened, when the geology was fully exposed, and produced "the first fully scientific report ever produced about a major landslip". The report features remarkable sketches of the fresh landslip, what must have been an amazing and terrifying terrain of dissected blocks of wheatfield with chasms between.

In addition, the report features for comparison a sketch of the Hooken Undercliff between Beer and Branscombe, then relatively fresh from the 1790 slip that created it.

Hooken Undercliff, from Coneybeare and Buckland monograph
low-res image from Lyme Regis Museum scan
Hooken Undercliff, October 2010
Anyhow, see The Bindon Landslip of 1839 at the Lyme Regis Museum site for the full-resolution monograph, which includes the text and ten plates, as well as a link to Thea Hawkesworth's paper Lyme’s History in Museum Objects 12: The Undercliff Model, which documents the general history and geology of the landslip via a description of William Dawson's 1841 post-slip model of the undercliff.

Via Lyme Regis Museum blog.

- Ray


  1. Thanks for picking this up - I wrote the blog post you reference at the end, but the hard work on digitising and uploading the document was done by other volunteers and staff at the Museum. The new director, David Tucker, has had the excellent idea of producing some "virtual museum exhibits" for the website, where it would be impractical to display them in the museum itself. The report by Conybeare is the second such - the first was a giant ichtyosaur (temnodontosaurus-e42).

  2. Thanks, Andrew - that's a really brilliant page showing a rare and important document. All kudos to Lyme Regis Museum for putting it online. If you want any particular image credits, let me know; I took the risk of a couple of low-res samplers being fair use that would direct people to the original.