Edward James Wayland, geologist and archaeologist, was the son of Edward Wayland and his wife Emily, born Street. He was educated at the City of London College, the Royal College of Science, and the Royal School of Mines (the latter two forming part of the Imperial College of Science and Technology, London), and also completed an apprenticeship in building and architecture. In 1909 he conducted geological research in Egypt as a Marshall Research Scholar in palaeontology of the Royal College of Science. Two years later he went to Portuguese East Africa (now Mozambique) to conduct geological exploration as part of the Memba Minerals Expedition. He collected some stone implements in the Monapo gravels near the town of Mozambique (the implements are now in the British Museum) and described them in 'Notes on the occurrence of stone implements in the province of Mozambique' (Man, 1915).
In 1912 Wayland was appointed as assistant mineral surveyor in the government service of Ceylon, where he also collected stone artefacts, and from 1916 to 1919 did war service in France during World War I (1914-1918). In 1919 the British government sent him to Uganda as a geological expert, where he remained as government geologist and later as the first director of the Geological Survey of Uganda. During the next 20 years he published numerous reports and papers on the geology and prehistory of Uganda, many of them on the Pleistocene and its pluvial periods and their associated Stone Age artefacts. He recorded hundreds of cave sites with Wilton industries and found evidence of profound climate changes. Among others he collaborated with L.S.B. Leakey and C. van Riet Lowe and with the latter wrote The Pleistocene geology and prehistory of Uganda (1952). He was particularly interested in the earliest prehistoric stone artefacts and believed that he had found these in the simply fractured pebbles and flakes in the earliest terraces of the rivers of northern Uganda, particularly the Kafu River. The existence of this so-called Kafuan culture has not been widely accepted and its artefacts are believed to be natural products rather than being made by humans.
In 1922 Wayland visited South Africa to study South African mining methods and compare its geological problems with those of Uganda. During his visit he found a pebble industry at Belfast which he likened to the Kafuan culture. At another site near Belfast he found artefacts which he thought equivalent to the Sangoan culture on the shore of Lake Victoria, which he had described in 1920. He and M.R. Drennan* reported on some of this work in 'Some account of a pebble industry in the Transvaal' (Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa, 1929, Vol. 17(4), pp. 333-340). Years later he wrote 'From an archaeological notebook' (South African Archaeological Bulletin, 1950), dealing with the antiquity of humans in southern Africa.
During World War II (1939-1945) Wayland did war duty in Dover and Gibraltar and then joined a bomb disposal unit of the Royal Engineers. In 1943 he was sent to the Bechuanaland Protectorate (now Botswana) to develop water resources and served as the first director of the Geological Survey of the territory. During and after this period he published 'Drodsky's Cave' (Geographical Journal, 1944) on a cave system in Ngamiland, 'More about the Kalahari' (Ibid, 1953), and 'Outlines of prehistory and Stone Age climatology in the Bechuanaland Protectorate' (Academie royale des Sciences coloniales, Section des Sciences naturelles et medicales, 1954).
Wayland was elected a Fellow of the Geological Society of London in 1912, was a member of the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy, a Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute, an associate of the Royal College of Science and was honoured as a commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1938. He was awarded the Bigsby Medal of the Geological Society of London in 1933 and the Victoria Medal of the Royal Geographical Society in 1935. In 1917 he married Ellen Morrison.