Edinburgh’s Crag and Tail

After looking at early settlements and what made humans choose to live in a particular place, P5 looked at the shape of the landscape and how important this may have been for a settlement.

Edinburgh Castle and The Royal Mile was built on a land formation called a crag and tail. Primary investigated how the land was formed in a wee outdoor investigation…

Armed with a whiteboard posing as a glacier, we investigated how the ice that covered the area of Edinburgh long ago shaped the land by bulldozing its way over the rocks and earth.

As the ice (whiteboard) moved across the land (sand) it wore the land away.

Can you see the hard rocks buried in the soft sand?

We hid rocks deep in the sand. These were the hard volcanic rock that is a key feature of much of Edinburgh’s landscape. When our glaciers (whiteboards) dragged across the sand we could carve out a lovely path in the sand. But when we hit the hard rocks the ‘glacier’ could only go up and over or around the volcanic rock. This meant a steep crag was formed. Once the ice had gone up and over the hard rock it could once again slide over the softer rock, wearing it away to a gentle slope known as the tail.

The ice shaped the land to make a perfect fortress. The crags made it difficult to get to and the one side that was accessible, the gentle slope of the tail, could easily be guarded and intruders stopped.