Salisbury Crags Sill, Edinburgh, Scotland

Steven Dutch, Professor Emeritus, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay

Location: 55o 56' 46" N, 003o 10' 30" W.

The scene below appears in the movie Chariots of Fire, when Eric Liddell and his sister go for a walk to discuss his athletic career. The steep cliff, known as Salisbury Crags, is an example of a sill, a sheet of molten rock squeezed between layers of sedimentary rock. Some of the sedimentary rocks are exposed at the base of the cliff. The sloping back side of the hill is the top of the sill, although the formerly overlying rocks can be found still preserved in places. The sill and the enclosing rocks were originally horizontal and were tilted later by movements of the crust.

The sill is made of a rock called dolerite, but local quarry workers called it "whin." The deep notch in the cliff near the lower end is an old quarry. The sill is famous in the history of geology because there are places where one can clearly see that the dolerite pushed aside older rock layers, and thus was intruded as a liquid. 200 years ago, many geologists believed all rocks were deposited in water, and early geologist James Hutton pointed to Salisbury Crags as evidence that some rocks must have formed as molten liquids.

The yellow bushes on the hillside are called gorse. Gorse is a common shrub in Scotland.

Original Scene

(author's image)

Possible Coloring

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Created 7 March 2008, Last Update 15 January 2020