Abstract

In 1809, Westgarth Forster, an agent in the Northern Pennine lead mines, published his only book. Entitled ‘A Treatise on a Section of the Strata…etc.’, it is more usually known simply as his ‘Section of Strata’. Although some contemporaries doubted its originality, the reputation of this work has grown since its publication and Forster is now widely regarded as one of the pioneers of northern England geology. This paper gives an overview of Forster’s life and unsuccessful career before closely examining the text of his work. It shows how most of Forster’s text was copied without acknowledgement from earlier authors and was not drawn from observations made in the Northern Pennine Orefield. Reference is made to earlier sections of strata from mines in the north of England, and Forster’s ‘Strata’ is shown to be drawn mainly from these. Westgarth Forster should not be seen as a pioneer of the geology of northern England, but as an author who pieced together his book very largely from the work of others.

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