• Calton Hill - Local Geodiversity Site, Edinburgh

Calton Hill

Looking over Edinburgh’s New Town, Calton Hill offers some of the best views in the city and has long stood as a landmark to the city.

Included as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Calton Hill is home to many historic buildings that are recognisable from all over the city. The most prominent are the twelve Craigleith sandstone columns of the unfinished National Monument which serves to commemorate the Scottish soldiers who fought and died in the Napoleonic Wars. Situated towards the eastern half of the hill, the National Monument is also close to the geological interest of the area. The walk up from Regent Street takes you through beds of lava and ash that originated from Arthur’s Seat volcano. It is just past the monument where you see these tough igneous rocks change (across a geological fault) into softer yellow-orange sand-based sediments from the Carboniferous, 340 million years ago. If you find this sharp change, you may notice the inclination of the sandstone beds. Look over to Salisbury Crags and compare the slope seen on each. The stark contrast between the steep cliffs facing the city and the gentle backslopes are attributed to glacial erosion and this ‘crag and tail’ landform indicates that the ice came from the west.

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