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The Rankine Lecture is universally acknowledged as the premier event in the BGS calendar, and being invited to present a Rankine Lecture is regarded as one of the highest accolades among the world's geotechnical community. It is given alternately by overseas and British lecturers to an audience that regularly exceeds 600. A look back over the list of past lectures justifies the sub-title of the first collection of the series as 'Landmarks in soil mechanics'.