Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs)

Around 10 Sites of Special Scientific Interest or SSSIs have been notified in the Edinburgh and West Lothian area, reflecting the national and international importance of the local geological and landform resource. Such sites include Arthur’s Seat, the Royal Park exposing beautiful sections through the ancient volcano, its intrusions and associated sedimentary rocks. Hutton’s Section, located on the flanks of the Arthur’s Seat volcano has strong historical resonance, as it was in this vicinity that James Hutton, the acknowledged founder of modern geology, observed sufficient evidence to conclude that the dolerite sill was introduced into the sedimentary layers in a molten state.

Other SSSIs in the Edinburgh area include Agassiz Rock at Blackford Hill, a place visited by Louis Agassiz on 27 October 1840 whilst on a tour of Scotland. He recognised many features which he thought suggested the presence of former glaciers. He is said to have exclaimed during his visit to Blackford Hill “That is the work of ice!” whilst observing the striations or scratches on the rock caused by glaciers.

East Kirkton Quarry SSSI is one of the geological highlights of West Lothian. The strata have yielded fossil evidence for a unique collection of plants and animals including the oldest known complete amphibian and earliest land-dwelling scorpion.

Geological and landform sites are often just as vulnerable to changes in land use as wildlife habitats, so active steps must be taken to ensure that these important sites are safeguarded for the benefit of future generations.

Fossil skeleton of the earliest known reptile Westlothiana lizziae popularly known as "Lizzie" found in lower Carboniferous rocks near Bathgate.