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Robert Dick (1811–1866)

Photo credit: Highland Council

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Robert Dick (1811–1866), baker of Thurso, was a self-taught geologist and botanist. He discovered fossils in local rocks and demonstrated that his textbooks were incorrect, for they stated that no fossils were to be found on the Caithness coast. He began a collection of Caithness plants and ferns. He not only collected the plants, but observed from their growth that their development was as described in his books. His mastery of the subject was such that he not only recognised each plant, but knew the different stages in its growth and exactly where in Caithness it could be found. One of his primary achievements was the discovery of Northern Holy Grass (Hierochloe borealis) on the banks of the River Thurso. This plant was believed to be extinct in Britain, but it was eventually re-introduced to the list of British flora and brought fame to Robert in the botanical world.

North Coast Visitor Centre





oil on canvas


H 61.3 x W 51.2 cm

Accession number


Work type


Inscription description

1. 'Bryden' 2. 'ROBERT.DICK 1811-1860'


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Normally on display at

North Coast Visitor Centre

Old Town Hall, High Street, Thurso, Highland KW14 8AJ Scotland

Not all locations are open to the public. Please contact the gallery or collection for more information
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