Henry Cadell

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Folds in rock as investigated by Cadell

Dr Henry Moubray Cadell of Grange, DL FRSE LLD (1860–1934) was a Scottish geologist and geographer, noted for his work on the Moine Thrust, the oil-shale fields of West Lothian,[1] and his experiments in mountain building published in 1888. He also travelled extensivelly abroad, for example in 1899 he travelled the length of the Irrawaddy River in Burma. He is especially remembered for his working models, explaining geomorphology, the science relating to the folding of rock beds.


He was born in Scotland in 1860. He was the eldest of seven children to Henry Cadell of Grange[2] by his second wife, Jessie Gray McFarlane. His father was a mining industrialist with considerable lands and company interests in Linlithgowshire and Stirlingshire.

He was educated at the University of Edinburgh (studying Geology under Archibald Geikie from 178 to 1881) and then spent a further year studying at the Clausthal Royal Mining Academy in Germany, before entering the employment of the Geological Survey of Scotland. He worked with the Survey from 1883 to 1888, largely surveying in the Scottish Highlands, then abandoned this to instead manage his family's estates, which included several large collieries.

His work with the Survey included geological investigations around Loch Eriboll in north-west Sutherland. This investigation was partly based on a geological quandry raised by Charles Lapworth, which puzzled over the inter-relationship between metamorphosed Moine rocks and non-metamorphosed Cambrian rocks beneath. This led Cadell to speculate that the rocks had been folded over on themselves. He conducted many experiments to support his theories (which are now proven to be fully correct).[3]

He was a leading figure in the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, first as Chairman of its Council (1919-1924), then President (1927-1928).

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1887. His proposers were fellow geologist James Geikie, George Chrystal and Ramsay Heatley Traquair.

Edinburgh University awarded him an honorary Doctorate (LLD) in 1932.


He was a great, great grandson of the pioneering industrilaist William Cadell, co-founder of the Carron Iron Works. He was the grand nephew of William Cadell FRSE (1775-1855).

He married Elinor Simson in 1889[4].