EGS school poster - Edinburgh Rocks and PeopleWhat makes Edinburgh special? Lots of different factors make a city, but one key feature that most visitors to Edinburgh notice is the dramatic landscape of the city centre. This is a landscape of rocky crags, cliffs and steep slopes surrounded by lower, flatter ground. It is derived from a mix of different kinds of rock – sedimentary and igneous. Find out more: Edinburgh’s Rocks

The bedrock has been greatly eroded over time, particularly during the Ice Age in the last two million years, to create today’s landscape. People have used the landscape of Edinburgh and its underlying geology in different ways over the last 10,000 years, finding suitable sites for settlement, defence and agriculture, and quarrying sandstone for building, and coal for fuel. The character of today’s city, with the Old and New Towns designated as a World Heritage Site, derives greatly from the bedrock, and the way in which this has been eroded.  Find out more: Making Edinburgh’s Landscape.

The Edinburgh geologist James Hutton (1726-1797) proposed that the Earth operated as a machine, where natural processes acted over immense time scales to erode the land and create new rocks. This was the beginning of our understanding of the rock cycle and the inter-relationships between sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous rocks.

Find out more: The Rock Cycle – Geological Society Education Resources

Download the Poster (pdf file) | Teachers’ Notes (in preparation)

More information about Edinburgh’s geology

Places to visit:

Edinburgh’s Local Geodiversity Sites: where the variety of geology of the local area can be enjoyed and appreciated. Across Edinburgh, 30 sites have been designated as Local Nature Conservation Sites by the City of Edinburgh Council and included in the City Local Development Plan.

Leaflets: Lothian and Borders GeoConservation have published more than 20 leaflets about local places of interest. You can download these for free at

Edinburgh Geological SocietyThe Edinburgh Geological Society is one of the UK’s foremost geological societies and aims to promote public interest in geology and advance geological knowledge. We organise excursions and lectures that bring together everyone from complete beginners to professional geologists interested in exploring the geology of Scotland and beyond.Public Lectures are held on alternate Wednesday evenings during the winter, aimed at anyone with an interest in Earth science. Excursions are run during the summer to significant geological sites in Scotland and further afield. The Society also produces geological publications including excursion guides. We publish the Scottish Journal of Geology, a professional scientific journal of world standing, jointly with the Geological Society of Glasgow.