Russell Coope: inexpensive science at home in the Highlands

Russell Coope explains why he has been able to continue to work at home in the Highlands, since retirement from the University of Birmingham in 1993.

Listen to the full interview track and all other tracks from this interview on British Library Sounds

How have you been able to continue your scientific work over the best part of the last twenty years from this fairly remote site in the Highlands? 

Oh this is – the reason for this is really fairly simple. My needs in terms of apparatus are extremely modest. I’ve got sieves and I’ve got bowls, polythene bowls and the means, and microscopes and a collection, that’s what I need. None of which necessarily cost a lot of money, to replace a polythene bowl is a matter of pence, to replace a sieve I can use – I can go down to Birmingham and almost certainly find people who want to reject their sieves because they’ve got new ones to replace them with. So I’m – no problem about getting materials and that’s the most important thing. If – let’s go back to geophysics, if I was dependant on the most complicated magnetometers that cost the earth or the ability to drill holes at the bottom of the oceans, at astronomical prices then I wouldn’t be doing it now. So it’s both cheap and effective. The next thing is that I – I can go and vis – be invited to go and visit excavations and sites where things are and this is very easy from here, or they can send me a bag of mud in the post you know, as you know from today [laughs], so that in a sort of way the work comes to my door. And I am not hooked on expensive apparatus, so that’s why I can do it. And I’ve just converted one room in the house entirely – it’s where I have my library there, my micro – my collection there and I do an awful lot of the initial preparation work … with the connivance Beryl in the kitchen. So it doesn’t require anything complex, so I can do it.

  • Interviewee Russell Coope
  • Duration 00:02:06
  • Copyright British Library Board
  • Interviewer Paul Merchant
  • Date of interview 11/25/2011
  • Shelfmark C1379/63
  • Keywords

Related Audio Clips

The following clips are short extracts from an in-depth interview.
To listen to the full interview visit

Related disciplines