Tayside and Central Scotland

Life of 'remarkable' baker Robert Dick marked

Robert Dick
Image caption Robert Dick taught himself botany and natural history

The life of a 19th Century Clackmannanshire baker who went on to become a world authority on botany is to be celebrated.

Robert Dick was born in Tullibody, in 1811 and was apprenticed to a local baker after leaving school, aged 13.

But he began to study in his spare time, eventually becoming a world-renowned expert on the botany and geology of Caithness.

His achievements are being marked by the Tullibody History Group.

The group said the event would look at the legacy of a "remarkable, entirely self-taught man".

Despite a relatively humble upbringing - the son of an excise officer - his achievements were noted by some of the most prominent scientists of the day.

Sir Roderick Murchison of the British Association of Scientists was said to have remarked about him: "I found to my humiliation that this baker knew more of botanical science - aye - 10 times more than I did."

Cemetery memorial

And the well-known naturalist Hugh Miller, who received many fossils from Dick, wrote that "he has robbed himself to do me service".

In 1863, Dick had to sell part of his geological collection, which is now in the National Museums Scotland.

He continued his research, but in August 1866 he collapsed while gathering specimens in a quarry. He never recovered fully and died four months later.

The only memorial to him is in Thurso Cemetery, the Tullibody History Group said.

Members of the group hope to erect a new memorial to the man to mark the bicentenary of his birth this year, as well as publishing a book about his life.

An event on 27 August at the Tullibody Heritage centre would give a "fascinating insight into an unusual man", the group added.

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