2.3 SNH launches an investigation

Niall Corbet ©SNH

Due to the overwhelming evidence we had to support our claim that the fossil bed is anything but “almost totally removed“, we agreed to the investigation.

The investigation was led by Niall Corbet, an Operations Manager (right). He would be investigating the extent/size of the fossil bed at Birk Knowes. To help carry this out he invited two reviewers independent of SNH to look at the report which was written as a result of the survey carried out by the National Museums of Scotland; the NMS report.

The two reviewers were Nick Fraser, Keeper of Natural Sciences at the National Museums of Scotland and Jonathan Larwood,  Senior Specialist of Geology and Palaeontology from Natural England.

As Colin MacFadyen had most probably functioned previously as ghostwriter for Lyndsey Kinnes, we were aware that he would possibly be offering some form of guidance to Niall Corbet, especially considering that Corbet was not a geologist while MacFadyen was SNH’s resident “expert” on Birk Knowes. This was somewhat concerning, as we had suspicions of MacFadyen having a dual nature towards us.

However, we did not regard this as a major concern, as the fault primarily lay with the NMS report, and the photographs could prove it.

It is worth noting at this point that one of us (W.v.d.B) was invited to Birk Knowes by Liz Hide, an NMS staff member, during the NMS survey of the site in 1999. The purpose of this invitation was to give an explanation of where the fossil bed travels, and to explain some phenomena at the site that she was unfamiliar with. The NMS did not have experience at the site, but they knew that we did.

The NMS staff had an unobstructed view of the fossil beds as an excavator was used to clear scree.

Liz Hide sampling the south exposure. 8 November 1999.

This is why we were surprised to find out that the NMS had apparently concluded that the fossil bed was almost gone. The above photograph shows an NMS staff member sampling the south exposure. There is more than 7 meters of fossil bed exposed in this photograph.

As we had yet to see the NMS report we requested to see this document. We wanted to find out precisely what the NMS had written about the fossil bed. Niall Corbet gave us access to it.

The information contained within the NMS report would turn the investigation on its head…

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