Castle Rock (Edinburgh)

Last updated

Castle Rock
Castle from Princes Street, Edinburgh.JPG
Castle Rock as seen from Princes Street
Highest point
Elevation 140 m (460 ft) [1]
Prominence c. 80 m (260 ft)
Listing Tump
Coordinates 55°56′55″N3°12′03″W / 55.948611°N 3.200833°W / 55.948611; -3.200833 Coordinates: 55°56′55″N3°12′03″W / 55.948611°N 3.200833°W / 55.948611; -3.200833
Scotland relief location map.jpg
Red triangle with thick white border.svg
Castle Rock
Edinburgh, Scotland
Topo map OS Landranger 66
Age of rock ~350 million years
Mountain type Crag and tail, volcanic plug
First ascent Unknown

Castle Rock (Scottish Gaelic : Creag a' Chaisteil, IPA:[ˈkʰʲɾʲekˈaˈxaʃtʰʲɪl]) is a volcanic plug in the middle of Edinburgh upon which Edinburgh Castle sits. The rock is estimated to have formed some 350 million years ago during the early Carboniferous period. It is the remains of a volcanic pipe which cut through the surrounding sedimentary rock, before cooling to form very hard dolerite, a coarser-grained equivalent of basalt. Subsequent glacial erosion was resisted more by the dolerite, which protected the softer rock to the east, leaving a crag and tail formation. [2]

The summit of the castle rock is 130 metres (430 ft) above sea level, with rocky cliffs to the south, west and north, rearing up to 80 metres (260 ft) from the surrounding landscape. [1] This means that the only readily accessible route to the castle lies to the east, where the ridge slopes more gently. The defensive advantage of such a site is clear, but the geology of the rock also presents difficulties, since basalt is an extremely poor aquifer. Providing water to the Upper Ward of the castle was problematic, and despite the sinking of a 28-metre (92 ft) deep well, the water supply often ran out during drought or siege, [3] for example during the Lang Siege of 1573. [4]

Related Research Articles

Edinburgh Castle Historic castle in Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh Castle is a historic castle in Edinburgh, Scotland. It stands on Castle Rock, which has been occupied by humans since at least the Iron Age, although the nature of the early settlement is unclear. There has been a royal castle on the rock since at least the reign of David I in the 12th century, and the site continued to be a royal residence until 1633. From the 15th century, the castle's residential role declined, and by the 17th century it was principally used as military barracks with a large garrison. Its importance as a part of Scotland's national heritage was recognised increasingly from the early 19th century onwards, and various restoration programmes have been carried out over the past century and a half.

Inselberg Isolated, steep rock hill on relatively flat terrain

An inselberg or monadnock is an isolated rock hill, knob, ridge, or small mountain that rises abruptly from a gently sloping or virtually level surrounding plain. In Southern Africa a similar formation of granite is known as a koppie, an Afrikaans word from the Dutch diminutive word kopje. If the inselberg is dome-shaped and formed from granite or gneiss, it can also be called a bornhardt, though not all bornhardts are inselbergs. An inselberg results when a body of rock resistant to erosion, such as granite, occurring within a body of softer rocks, is exposed by differential erosion and lowering of the surrounding landscape.

Crag and tail Geographic feature created by glaciation

A crag is a rocky hill or mountain, generally isolated from other high ground.

Lismore is an island of some 2,351 hectares in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. The climate is damp and mild, with over 166 centimetres (65 in) of rain recorded annually. This fertile, low-lying island was once a major centre of Celtic Christianity, with a 6th-century monastery associated with Saint Moluag, and later became the seat of the medieval Bishop of Argyll. There are numerous ruined structures including a broch and two 13th-century castles.

Holyrood Park

Holyrood Park is a royal park in central Edinburgh, Scotland about 1 mile to the east of Edinburgh Castle. It is open to the public. It has an array of hills, lochs, glens, ridges, basalt cliffs, and patches of gorse, providing a wild piece of highland landscape within its 650-acre (260 ha) area. The park is associated with the royal palace of Holyroodhouse and was formerly a 12th-century royal hunting estate. The park was created in 1541 when James V had the ground "circulit about Arthurs Sett, Salisborie and Duddingston craggis" enclosed by a stone wall.

Arthurs Seat Mountainous hill in Edinburgh, Scotland

Arthur's Seat is an ancient volcano which is the main peak of the group of hills in Edinburgh, Scotland, which form most of Holyrood Park, described by Robert Louis Stevenson as "a hill for magnitude, a mountain in virtue of its bold design". It is situated just to the east of the city centre, about 1 mile (1.6 km) to the east of Edinburgh Castle. The hill rises above the city to a height of 250.5 m (822 ft), provides excellent panoramic views of the city and beyond, is relatively easy to climb, and is popular for hillwalking. Though it can be climbed from almost any direction, the easiest and simplest ascent is from the east, where a grassy slope rises above Dunsapie Loch. At a spur of the hill, Salisbury Crags has historically been a rock climbing venue with routes of various degrees of difficulty. Until recently rock climbing was restricted to the South Quarry, however access is currently banned altogether by Historic Environment Scotland.

Diabase Type of igneous rock

Diabase, also called dolerite or microgabbro, is a mafic, holocrystalline, subvolcanic rock equivalent to volcanic basalt or plutonic gabbro. Diabase dikes and sills are typically shallow intrusive bodies and often exhibit fine-grained to aphanitic chilled margins which may contain tachylite.

Craigmillar Castle Castle in City of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

Craigmillar Castle is a ruined medieval castle in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is three miles (4.8 km) south-east of the city centre, on a low hill to the south of the modern suburb of Craigmillar. The Preston family of Craigmillar, the local feudal barons, began building the castle in the late 14th century and building works continued through the 15th and 16th centuries. In 1660, the castle was sold to Sir John Gilmour, Lord President of the Court of Session, who breathed new life into the ageing castle. The Gilmours left Craigmillar in the 18th century for a more modern residence, nearby Inch House, and the castle fell into ruin. It is now in the care of Historic Environment Scotland as a scheduled monument, and is open to the public.

The Pentland Hills are a range of hills southwest of Edinburgh, Scotland. The range is around twenty miles in length, and runs southwest from Edinburgh towards Biggar and the upper Clydesdale.

Geology of Scotland Overview of geology of Scotland

The geology of Scotland is unusually varied for a country of its size, with a large number of differing geological features. There are three main geographical sub-divisions: the Highlands and Islands is a diverse area which lies to the north and west of the Highland Boundary Fault; the Central Lowlands is a rift valley mainly comprising Palaeozoic formations; and the Southern Uplands, which lie south of the Southern Uplands Fault, are largely composed of Silurian deposits.

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is a rope bridge near Ballintoy in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The bridge links the mainland to the tiny island of Carrickarede. It spans 20 metres (66 ft) and is 30 metres (98 ft) above the rocks below. The bridge is mainly a tourist attraction and is owned and maintained by the National Trust. In 2018, the bridge had 485,736 visitors. The bridge is open all year round and people may cross it for a fee.

Lomond Hills Range of hills in central Scotland

The Lomond Hills, also known outside the locality as the Paps of Fife, are a range of hills in central Scotland. They lie in western central Fife and Perth and Kinross, Scotland. At 522 metres (1,713 ft) West Lomond is the highest point in the county of Fife.

Islands of the Forth Group of islands in the Firth of Forth, Scotland

The Islands of the Forth are a group of small islands located in the Firth of Forth and in the estuary of the River Forth on the east coast of Scotland. Most of the group lie in the open waters of the firth, between the Lothians and Fife, with the majority to the east of the city of Edinburgh. Two islands lie further west in the river estuary.

North Atlantic Igneous Province Large igneous province in the North Atlantic, centered on Iceland

The North Atlantic Igneous Province (NAIP) is a large igneous province in the North Atlantic, centered on Iceland. In the Paleogene, the province formed the Thulean Plateau, a large basaltic lava plain, which extended over at least 1.3 million km2 (500 thousand sq mi) in area and 6.6 million km3 (1.6 million cu mi) in volume. The plateau was broken up during the opening of the North Atlantic Ocean leaving remnants preserved in north Ireland, west Scotland, the Faroe Islands, northwest Iceland, east Greenland, western Norway and many of the islands located in the north eastern portion of the North Atlantic Ocean. The igneous province is the origin of the Giant's Causeway and Fingal's Cave. The province is also known as Brito–Arctic province and the portion of the province in the British Isles is also called the British Tertiary Volcanic Province or British Tertiary Igneous Province.

Geology of Jersey

The geology of Jersey is characterised by the Late Proterozoic Brioverian volcanics, the Cadomian Orogeny, and only small signs of later deposits from the Cambrian and Quaternary periods. The kind of rocks go from conglomerate to shale, volcanic, intrusive and plutonic igneous rocks of many compositions, and metamorphic rocks as well, thus including most major types.

Geology of Tasmania Overview of the geology of Tasmania

The geology of Tasmania is complex, with the world's biggest exposure of diabase, or dolerite. The rock record contains representatives of each period of the Neoproterozoic, Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras. It is one of the few southern hemisphere areas that were glaciated during the Pleistocene with glacial landforms in the higher parts. The west coast region hosts significant mineralisation and numerous active and historic mines.

Mount Edziza volcanic complex Mountain in British Columbia, Canada

The Mount Edziza volcanic complex is a large and potentially active north-south trending complex volcano in Stikine Country, northwestern British Columbia, Canada, located 38 kilometres (24 mi) southeast of the small community of Telegraph Creek. It occupies the southeastern portion of the Tahltan Highland, an upland area of plateau and lower mountain ranges, lying east of the Boundary Ranges and south of the Inklin River, which is the east fork of the Taku River. As a volcanic complex, it consists of many types of volcanoes, including shield volcanoes, calderas, lava domes, stratovolcanoes, and cinder cones.

Edinburgh town walls City walls in City of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

There have been several town walls around Edinburgh, Scotland, since the 12th century. Some form of wall probably existed from the foundation of the royal burgh in around 1125, though the first building is recorded in the mid-15th century, when the King's Wall was constructed. In the 16th century the more extensive Flodden Wall was erected, following the Scots' defeat at the Battle of Flodden in 1513. This was extended by the Telfer Wall in the early 17th century. The walls had a number of gates, known as ports, the most important being the Netherbow Port, which stood halfway down the Royal Mile. This gave access from the Canongate which was, at that time, a separate burgh.

Geology of Madeira

Madeira began to form more than 100 million years ago in the Early Cretaceous, although most of the island has formed in the last 66 million years of the Cenozoic, particularly in the Miocene and Pliocene. The island is an example of hotspot volcanism, with mainly mafic volcanic and igneous rocks, together with smaller deposits of limestone, lignite and other sediments that record its long-running uplift.

Prospect dolerite intrusion Landform of Sydney

The Prospect dolerite intrusion, or Prospect intrusion, is a Jurassic picrite or dolerite laccolith that is situated in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Lying in the heart of Cumberland Plain, in the suburb of Pemulwuy, the intrusion is Sydney's largest body of igneous rock, rising to a height of 117 metres (384 ft) above sea level. The site is formed by an intrusion of dolerite rock into Ashfield Shale. At least seven different rock types occur in the intrusion.


  1. 1 2 MacIvor, Iain (1993). Edinburgh Castle. p. 16. ISBN   9780713472950.
  2. McAdam, David (2003). Edinburgh and West Lothian: A Landscape Fashioned by Geology. p. 16. ISBN   9781853973277.
  3. Dunbar, John G (1999). Scottish Royal Palaces: The Architecture of the Royal Residences During the Late Medieval and Early Renaissance Periods. p. 192. ISBN   9781862320420.
  4. Potter, Harry (2003). Edinburgh Under Siege: 1571-1573. p. 137. ISBN   9780752423326.

Commons-logo.svg Media related to Castle Rock, Edinburgh at Wikimedia Commons