The high volcanic ridge of Blackford Hill and the deep rocky gorge of the Hermitage of Braid have exciting stories to tell about Edinburgh’s geological past. We can find evidence of different types of volcanic eruptions more than 400 million years ago, forming the tough igneous rock of the Pentland, Braid and Blackford Hills. Much more recently, this area has been swept many times by great ice sheets advancing from the west, picking out the contrasts between different rock layers and leaving us with Edinburgh’s raw and spectacular scenery.

The andesite lava dome of the currently active volcano in Montserrat, Eastern Caribbean.

The andesite lava dome of the currently active volcano in Montserrat, Eastern Caribbean.

A new project this winter will attempt to tell these stories in a more engaging way, taking visitors back into the past to imagine the amazing, powerful events that have created Blackford Hill and the Hermitage. Volunteers from Lothian and Borders GeoConservation (a committee of the Edinburgh Geological Society) will produce a new geology leaflet and investigate other ways of sharing these stories. We will seek advice from volcano and ice age experts and find modern analogues for the processes that happened here in the past.

What did the landscape look like when the Blackford Hill volcano was erupting?

Can we find a glacial drainage channel somewhere in the world that looks like the Hermitage gorge in full flow?