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