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West Lothian has

c The Trustees of the National Museums of Scotland

changed enormously
over the last 330
million years.
The rocks of the Bathgate Hills
date from a time more than It’s been covered by volcanic ash,
330 million years ago when sunk beneath a tropical sea, and
West Lothian lay at the edge buried deep within the earth. Ice
of a giant continent, close to has shaped hills and valleys,
the Equator. As the coastline people have built temples and
changed over millions of castles, and all sorts of creatures
years, there were coral seas, have made this land their home.
sandy deltas, swampy forests,
and murky lagoons. Evidence of these changes is all
around you... if you just know
Then came the volcanoes... what to look for.
Ash rained down from the
skies and hot lava welled up Take this leaflet as your guide to
from cracks in the earth; the secrets of the Bathgate Hills.
slowly hardening to form Follow the trail, visit a museum or
fossils from the igneous rocks of the a country park, or simply open
East Kirkton Bathgate Hills. your eyes and wonder as you
drive, cycle, or walk through this
In the last two million years, a massive thickness of ice ground special landscape. Open up this
the hills into the shapes that we see today. Traveling eastwards, leaflet and there’s a game of skill
the ice scooped out soft volcanic ash and sedimentary rocks, and adventure in which
leaving tougher igneous rock as isolated hills. all the family can
discover the n)
When the ice melted, great mounds of boulders, sand and clay rpio
secrets of the sco
were left, and where these blocked valleys, rivers cut new routes Bathgate ea

to the sea. Hollows flooded then gradually filled with rotting Hills. nt
c The Trustees of the National Museums of Scotland

vegetation to become bogs and swamps.
id (
t er

These hard
r yp

igneous rocks resisted

erosion by ice Softer rock in the shadow
s il

of the crag was protected

Ice flowed in this f
from erosion A

K irk

Produced by Almond Valley Heritage
Binny Craig Trust, West Lothian Council,
Binny Craig is a good Lothian & Borders RIGS Group, and British
example of a “crag and tail” Geological Survey, with grant assistance from
hill shaped by ice. All peaks Cairnpapple Scottish Natural Heritage & West Lothian Council: tourism
& town centres management.
in the Bathgate Hills follow
this pattern, with steepest Dechmont Law This leaflet can only hint at some of the secrets of the Bathgate Hills.
slopes facing the direction For further details, and information on visiting the area, visit:
Contour map of
of ice flow. direction
of ice flow the Bathgate Hills
Fossil coral from Petershill
The tough igneous rocks of the
hills were quarried for making
Cairnpapple henge and cairn

roads, but were not easily Fossils of corals, giant lobsters,
squared into blocks for building. amphibians and strange fern-like
Many local farm buildings used trees show that life was very
smooth sandstone blocks around different 330 million years ago
windows and doors, filling in the when the rocks of the

c James Gentles 2004
walls with rougher igneous rock. hills were formed.
Sandstone from Binny Quarry was
used during the 19th Century in Today the hills provide a range of
some of Edinburgh's finest habitats for more familiar wildlife.
Farmhouse wall
buildings, such as the Scott Monument. Drystone walls and beech hedges
enclose upland areas used for grazing
Beds of limestone running across the Bathgate Hills were sheep whilst, lower down the hills,
Standing on the summit of Cairnpapple Hill 6,000 years ago,
quarried and burnt in kilns to produce lime, used in mortar or larger fields provide pasture or animal
stone age people would have gazed out on an unbroken sea of
as a fertiliser. A vein in igneous rocks at Silvermines produced feed crops. Tree belts and plantations
forest and marsh. The Bathgate Hills must have been a special
lead, silver and other valuable minerals. shelter these fields, and provide homes
place of safety for the prehistoric people, and archeology shows
that Cairnpapple was Silvermines quarry for badgers and other wildlife.
used for burials and

Torphichen Preceptory
ceremonies for almost
4,000 years Moss, lichen and bracken

Stones, ditches, humps Holstein cows study
a dry stane dyke
and hollows provide
tantalising clues to Coniferous woodland,
early inhabitants, but originally provided pit props
not until the medieval for mines, but now cover
period 800 years ago, Lead ore on white Calcite upland areas and support
from Silvermines their own wildlife community.
do we find the earliest
traces of buildings.
The remains of To the south and east of the hills, red bings of spent shale recall Human activity such as
chapels and fortified the shale oil industry which once produced much of Scotland's quarrying and the
tower houses can be oil. To the west, rich seams of coal, ironstone and fireclay were construction of reservoirs,
found at several mined. have provided new habitats
places around the that encourage a diversity of
hills. Gravestone in Torphichen churchyard wildlife.
Most surviving cottages and farm buildings date back only a Hauling timber by horse
couple of centuries years to the time of the “improvements”, at Beecraigs in the 1950’s
when landowners enclosed fields with stone walls, planted shelter
belts, laid drains, and built roads. Limekilns were built to produce To the south, Tailend Moss and
fertiliser needed for this more intensive agriculture. Easter Inch Moss are remnants of the bogs
that once surrounded the hills, and are now
a refuge for a variety of wildlife.
Frogs at Tailend Moss

A typical cottage Ironstone Coal Oilshale