Edinburgh’s Castle Rock and “There’s a Touch” by The Proclaimers

When I visited Edinburgh in May 2017, on my way to the Isle of Lewis, I spent a couple of hours wandering around the downtown area. The city is dominated by Edinburgh Castle situated on a volcanic hill. The hill 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, of which Stonehenge’s bluestones are also formed. Castle Rock is a classic “crag-and-tail” glacial feature, with Edinburgh Castle sitting on the “crag” whilst the Royal Mile leading up to it has been built on the “tail”. The hard dolerite has resisted being eroded away. The force of the glacier erodes the surrounding softer material, leaving the rocky block protruding from the surrounding terrain. This “crag” then serves as a partial shelter to softer material in the wake of the glacier, which remains as a ridge forming a tapered ramp (the “tail”) up the leeward side of the crag. (See here for more on the geology of Edinburgh.) 

I walked up towards the Castle, up the Royal Mile, the “tail”, and came upon Greyfriars Churchyard. I knew about Greyfriars Bobby, having seen the Disney movie ages ago, but knew nothing about the area. Bobby was a Skye Terrier who became known in 19th-century Edinburgh for spending 14 years guarding the grave of his owner until he died himself in January 1872.

I wandered through the Greyfriars Churchyard and its cemetery, and even came across part of the Flodden Wall (built in the 1500s to protect Edinburgh from an English invasion).

After some refreshment at a nearby cafe, I spotted Mr Wood’s Fossil Shop, where I bought a poster of Edinburgh’s geology.

Today that poster hangs on the wall of my tumbling shed (copies of the poster can be bought here).

And, just for fun…

Though twins Charlie and Craig Reid (The Proclaimers) were born in Edinburgh, and are known for singing in their distinctive Scottish accent, this video was filmed in Kitchener, Ontario. Their most popular songs are “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”, “Sunshine on Leith”, “I’m On My Way” and “Letter from America”. This song of lost love is given a video treatment of black humour… 

“There’s a Touch” by The Proclaimers

There’s a touch upon my lips
Left by memory’s fingertips
I still hear her voice
When there’s no sound

There’s a touch upon my skin
Left when she went back to him
All the rest has gone
She’s not around

When I saw her first
It was lust my friend
Thought it would burn
Then it would end
But I lost my old philosophy
Now I believed in love

Well the months went by and my love grew strong
Thought she felt the same but I was wrong
She held my old philosophy
Now I’m destroyed by love

There’s a touch upon my lips
Left by memory’s fingertips
I still hear her voice
When there’s no sound

There’s a touch upon my skin
Left when she went back to him
All the rest has gone
She’s not around

Well I still believed that I would win
’cause I was a better man than him
She held the new philosophy
Now she believed in love

But the love she felt was not for me
Said she would have to set me free
Now I know there’s no philosophy
That can’t be destroyed by love

There’s a touch upon my lips
Left by memory’s fingertips
I still hear her voice
When there’s no sound

There’s a touch upon my skin
Left when she went back to him
All the rest has gone
She’s not around…

Author: tumblestoneblog

Retired Academic, male, living in the New Zealand countryside with his wife, two cats (Ollie and Fluffy), two horses (Dancer and Penny) and a shed half-full of stones. Email john.tumblestone@gmail.com.

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