The city of Edinburgh

The geology of Edinburgh

Dark Ages & the Saltire

St Margaret

Firth of Forth & Inchcolm Abbey

Mercat Cross & Lion Rampant

Robert The Bruce & William Wallace

Flodden & The Flodden Wall

Mary Queen of Scots

St Giles Cathedral & civil wars

Glorious Revolution

Tollbooth & Porteous Riots

Deacon Brodie

Robert Burns & Makars Court

David Hume & Enlightenment

James Hutton


Burke & Hare

Sport in Edinburgh

The geology of Edinburgh

Edinburgh is the castle and the people came to live either on, or around it, for refuge and safety. The castle is built on top of what is known as a "Crag And Tail." Millions of years ago there was a volcano which erupted and left a plug of hard igneous rock. When the ice ages came and went glaziers eroded away the softer rock around this plug to leave a tail which slopes down to the east of the castle which we now know as the Royal Mile. Then humans arrived about 8,000 years ago and about 6,000 years later written history arrived in the form of the Romans. You remember them? Julius Caesar, Nero, Caligula, Russel Crowe. The Romans called the people they encountered in Scotland "Caledons." Which means "wee smelly hairy people with tattoos running about the heather looking for a fight with anyone." But in the last 2,000 years they evolved into different shapes, sizes and colours. From "Caledons" came the name "Caledonia."

Edinburgh used to be called Dùn Èideann. The local language used to be Gaelic and the Gaelic word for hill is dun. There are lots of places in Scotland beginning with dun such as Dundee, Dunfermline, Dunblane, Dunbar. The word Èdeann means fort. So Dun Èdeann means "hill fort." When the people started to speak English, with the invasion of the Angles in 638 AD, Dun Èideann became Edinburgh.

Why did the Romans not come up and conquer Scotland like the rest of Britain? Well we Scots love to believe that the local tribes were just too fierce and independent to be conquered, and we love to believe that we are descendants of them. There is even evidence of a legion of Roman soldiers who ventured up into the hills and were never seen or heard of again. The truth may have been different. The Romans were in Scotland for about 70 years and there was a battle in Scotland (Mons Grapius) at which the Roman general Agricola defeated the local tribes, but the reason the emperor Hadrian built a wall may have been because Scotland wasn't worth it. There is no gold or silver in the hills like there was in Wales, and they didn't use the land to grow and export grain like they did in southern Britain. The lost legion of Roman soldiers may have been a clerical error. Hadrian's wall was built right through tribal lands. The questions remain: Was Hadrian's wall built to keep the tribes out or in? Or was it better used as a road for communications? These days it is roughly the border between Scotland and England.

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