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Darwin Correspondence Project

From T. F. Jamieson   24 October 1861

Ellon Aberdeensh.

24 Oct 1861

My Dear Sir,

It would be unpardonable in me not to thank you for the valuable papers &c on Glen Roy which you have been so good as send me—1

I found the locality so interesting & instructive that I hope to be able to pay another visit to it.2 I saw Loch Spey from a distance standing on the top of Tom Brahn,3 or rather endeavouring to stand, for it was a gale like to blow the teeth out of one’s head— Possibly the high lying terraces or buttresses you refer to, may be explained by glacial action, for it seems, from Dr. Hooker’s account, that similar terraces abound in the higher Himalayan valleys, wh. he refers to that agency— Lakes, he says, form between the sides of glaciers & the flanking hill occasionally—4

—The great sloping terraces at the mouth of Glen Spean I did not get examined, & am therefore unable to say much about, but if the ice-dam in that direction consisted of a glacier stream occupying the line of the Caledonian canal, great accumulations might be pushed into the dammed lake by short glaciers descending from the little hollows of Ben Nevis &c. & the hill streams of ditto

One of the greatest difficulties in the way of the glacier theory seems to me to arise from the supposition of the pressure of a column of water say 600 feet or so deep or more, being retained by an ice barrier. the glacier lakes of Switzerland seem to be retained chiefly by moraine matter, but in one case by ice alone— in the Himalaya near Karakorum pass also a large glacier lake—the largest I have heard of—seems to have been dammed by ice alone5

I am | My Dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | Thos. F. Jamieson

C. Darwin Esq


See letter to Charles Lyell, 20 October [1861]. Jamieson acknowledged CD’s assistance in his published account of the parallel ‘roads’ of Glen Roy (Jamieson 1863, p. 240). See also letter from T. F. Jamieson, 13 June 1861, letter to Robert Chambers, 30 April [1861], and Correspondence vol. 9, Appendix IX.
Jamieson made two visits to Lochaber, the first in August 1861 and the second in July 1862 (see Jamieson 1863, p. 240).
The hill Tom Brahn (or Tombrahn) overlooks the head of upper Glen Roy (see Collected papers 1: 87 and the map in this volume, p. 248).
Hooker 1854a, 1: 242–4; 2: 116–21. See also letter to J. D. Hooker, 28 September [1861].
Jamieson discussed the objections to postulating a former ice-dam in Glen Roy, and mentioned the glacier lakes of the Himalayas in his paper (Jamieson 1863, pp. 257–8).


Discusses his observations at Glen Roy. Mentions glaciers seen by Hooker in the Himalayas. Discusses problems of glacier–lake theory.

Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Francis Jamieson
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
Edinburgh University Library (Lyell 1: 2828)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3297,” accessed on 25 June 2017,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 9