Layers of my Neighbourhood – Edinburgh


Edinburgh is a many layered city, literally built on its history. What we can see on the surface around us is only the latest addition. You can gently peel back the surface and reveal layer upon layer of our past. St Giles Cathedral and The Royal Mile, which it sits on, is built on top of streets and closes which now lie bricked off and hidden beneath our feet. Hundreds of years ago they echoed to the sound of feet long since buried, yet the echoes still resonate through the stones and the buildings which surround us.

Beneath the human history lies the even slower history of geology, and the rocks of the earth. The Royal Mile, and the castle at its head is built on an ancient lava plug, carved bare by the passage of a glacier during the Ice Age. The shape of the heart of old Edinburgh is formed by this history, and the Royal Mile lies like the spine of a fallen dinosaur, with Holyrood Palace spilling from its tail.

This high ridge of impenetrable rock, holds the Old Town above the surrounding land, and so the city falls away from its heart in layers. This gives us streets flying over other streets, suddenly revealed by a bridge breaking the run of buildings. It gives us pavements on roofs, so you turn a corner and suddenly realise you’re not at street level anymore. It can be disorienting, but I find it enchanting, as nothing is quite what it seems here.

All of us are built on our past, and although these layers lie hidden beneath the surface they will often provoke us in expected ways. Sometimes there are painful layers in our past which we want to erase or build over, but despite our best efforts they still shape us. Perhaps like Edinburgh we can allow these old shapes to become part of the foundations of the beautiful new surface unfolding from within us each day. We can’t deleted the past, but we can move on and keep building the life we are living now. We can evolve like this ancient city, into surprising and unique individuals, despite our impenetrable ridges and forgotten dinosaurs.

You can see more photos of peoples neighbourhoods by following the link to the weekly photo challenge

About greenmackenzie

Hi, I'm Seonaid, and I share my home on the shores of Loch Ness deep in the Scottish Highlands with my husband, my son and a couple of dogs. I love art which is here now and gone food and nature...but also have a passion for vintage and the ancient past! Nature is my favourite muse, with her wild ever shifting seasons. I have been using and teaching mindfulness and relaxation for over 12 years, and have yet to become any sort of expert :-) I'm a Psychotherapist and Cancer Support Specialist in Maggies Highlands
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71 Responses to Layers of my Neighbourhood – Edinburgh

  1. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: My Neighbourhood | Far Away

  2. Your pictures took me on a virtual walk through the city! Thank you

  3. Mike Howe says:

    Hi Seonaid, I have very much enjoyed your posts thank you. I have a friend who has been closely involved with Maggies Centre in Edinburgh in the past, it features in one of my posts entitled Harry Potter and my guitar. I love Edinburgh and have really enjoyed looking at your photos. Keep up the good work in relaxation, that’s another area I know a bit about through my record label – small world! All the best, Mike

    • Hi Mike, I just read your Harry Potter post, and I think I know exactly the event you attended, and who your friend is ๐Ÿ™‚ Scotland is a very small country in many ways ๐Ÿ™‚ really happy to hear you’re enjoying the photos, and interested that you’ve been involved in relaxation recordings. I made a recording of a relaxation CD, which we still hand out in Maggies, about 8 years ago, and keep meaning to do some new material. People find it such a powerful and helpful tool when life is throwing complex and difficult stuff at them. So glad you found the blog, and now I’ve found yours! Xx

  4. Oy, this made me HOMESICK. I loved the couple of days I spent in Edinburgh and wished for more time to explore that amazing city. Thanks!

  5. Pingback: Phoneography Challenge – My Neighbourhood | Beyond Beauty Tips

  6. bevchen says:

    What gorgeous photos! I love Edinburgh. If I ever move back to the UK I would like to live either there or York.
    I am writing a post about Edinburgh for a link up and this post was suggested by Zemanta. I’m glad it was!

  7. Pingback: Photo Project: 52 Bolivian Sundays [week 10, 'My Neighborhood']. | 3rdculturechildren

  8. Really nice collection, Seonaid!

  9. Peter S says:

    Beautiful photos, and very well written as well! Someday I’ll be able to travel to Scotland, hoping to try some Laphroaig from the source!

    • Thanks Peter. If you like whiskey, as your great choice would suggest, you will love a visit to Scotland. You could do a distillery tour, and it would take you to some magic and remote parts of the country ๐Ÿ™‚ Each area produces different flavoured water, which in turn changes the whiskey….but you probably already knew that ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. I have been to Switzerland (for my daughter’s wedding) but never anywhere else in Europe. You live in a world steeped in history (just so). Nothing on this continent can compare. And in the bargain you have many more wonderful subjects. Thanks for the travel log.

    • Switzerland is so beautiful…what a great place to visit ๐Ÿ™‚ I have to confess to loving the steeped layers of history around me….it all helps me to know how small I am in the face of human history ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. icelandpenny says:

    Wonderfully informed and fluid account of your beloved city, I almost felt it unfolding around me as I read, and of course those photos to illuminate the words! I really must tackle a complex galley layout, such as you’ve used here…

    • Thank you Penny…the gallery layout is very easy…it almost creates itself. Just pick create a gallery from the options on the left, after you have clicked add media, and then choose from 1, 2 or 3 columns after you have ticked all the photos you want to include. I’ll look forward to seeing what you create:-)

  12. I just knew I would love your entry!

  13. wisejourney says:

    I enjoyed this visit. I am having trouble with picture uploading and making pictures the size I want. NZ you offer me any quick guidance ? Also I would like to be able to upload a collage as yiu have here. How an I do this…

    Thank you. Andrea

    • wisejourney says:

      I enjoyed this visit. I am having trouble with picture uploading and making pictures the size I want. Can you offer me any quick guidance ? Also I would like to be able to upload a collage as yiu have here. How an I do this…

      Thank you. Andrea

  14. tms says:

    Great impressions – you convinced me that one day I’ll have to visit and see it for myself. (We only visited Scotland once, and I was very pleased with driving my car through the country. We left out Edinburg though, considering we could always fly there for a weekend.)

  15. absolutely stunning! i am not ashamed to admit i am an anglophile (i know scotland is technically not covered under that word, but in my own definition it IS ๐Ÿ˜› ), and edinburgh has always been a place i’ve dreamed of going.

  16. Pingback: Nostalgia for Great Britain | A New Day

  17. Pat says:

    I have visited Edinburgh several times and I am enjoying the memories that your photos brought forth. And then I read your words and they captured all the feelings that I experienced as I wondered through old town all those times. I brought students on a study trip and we stayed in the youth hostile across from the castle. I have fond memories of getting a Mark & Spencer’s take-away lunch and sitting on a bench in the park looking at Old Town skyline while listening to Princess Street traffic behind me. I miss you, Edinburgh!

    • You were sitting in Princes’s Street gardens, and I’ve done the same thing many times over the years ๐Ÿ™‚ Soon we will have the sound of trams ( whatever they sound like) to add to the sounds from Princes Street! I’m so glad my post brought you back to fond memories ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: My Neighbourhood (canal 3) | What's (in) the picture?

  19. My graduate advisor (W.D. Russell-Hunter) was from Scotland, Glasgow I believe, and he always spoke poetically about it. Joanna would love to visit and take in the views of sheep on the moors. On another level – your reflections about individual histories is spot on. I’ve heard it said … we are who we have been. Nice post – great images. D

  20. mmtread says:

    Gorgeous shots of what is clearly an amazing place. So what do you think about writing a guest post for Field Notes from Fatherhood? I’d love to have you contribute something.

  21. Pingback: Phoneography Challenge: My Neighborhood | Flickr Comments

  22. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenges: My Neighbourhood (canal 2) | What's (in) the picture?

  23. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: My Neighbourhood | What's (in) the picture?

  24. Amazing photos! Your neighborhood looks enchanting. I hope I get to travel there someday.

  25. dorysworld says:

    Lovely post … both words and pictures. A visit to Edinburgh is on my list of 50 things to do before I’m 50 ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. Colline says:

    Really beautiful. Looking at the buildings shows that this neighbourhood has a lot of history to it.

  27. Your photos will take me to Edinburgh next year, Seonaid! What an interesting and grande city. Beautiful shots of your neighbourhood.

  28. Yes, you are lucky to live there! great photos of great places. I think I bought a postcard of Bobby – of course – but for photos I will have to return some day…

  29. Amy says:

    Thank you for the wonderful tour, Mackenzie! Beautiful photos.

  30. ladyfi says:

    You’re so inspiring – love how you talk about our own layers of history and how we can use them to create our future. Reminds me of what Rumi once said: Where there is ruin, there is treasure.

    The photos are a treat too.

  31. Your neighborhood is very cool! A vicarious visit is the closest I’m likely to get (at least until the kids are grown) so I really enjoyed the photo tour.

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed a wee peak at Edinburgh. No doubt there will be more in the future…..every corner here holds another great scene ๐Ÿ™‚ I took these shots a couple of weeks ago, and they are all within a tiny area of the Old Town

  32. Your photos are amazing. I am thinking of another trip to Edinburgh now that I have seen them ๐Ÿ™‚

  33. Beautiful pictures! Edinburgh is an amazing city. I’ve only visited it once, but I’d love to go back some day ๐Ÿ™‚

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