Fife and Angus geology: an excursion guide

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Under construction

Preface Acknowledgements Introduction Geographical setting Geological setting Scope of the guide and further references The Geological Code of Conduct Tides Geology of the area

Chapter 1 Dalradian

Structure Metamorphism

Chapter 2 The Highland Border Complex

Chapter 3 Devonian (Old Red Sandstone)

Lower Old Red Sandstone Earth movements of Middle Old Red Sandstone age Upper Old Red Sandstone

Chapter 4 Carboniferous

Inverclyde Group Strathclyde Group Lower Limestone Formation Limestone Coal Formation Upper Limestone Formation Passage Formation Coal Measures Carboniferous earth movements Carboniferous intrusive igneous rocks Intrusion mechanism of the Carboniferous Permian vents

Chapter 5 Quaternary

Glaciers Till Meltwater features Raised beaches The late-glacial and postglacial history of the area

Descriptive itineraries

Excursion 1 Arbroath, Crawton and Stonehaven (half day)

Excursion 2 Edzell and Glen Esk (whole day)

Excursion 3 Dundee to Perth (whole day)

Excursion 4 Comrie Igneous Complex (whole day)

Excursion 5 Wormit Shore (half day)

Excursion 6 St Fort–Leuchars (half day)

Excursion 7 North Fife Hills (half day)

Excursion 8 Drumcarrow and Dura Den (half day)

Excursion 9 Kinkell Braes, St Andrews (half day)

Excursion 10 Rock and Spindle, St Andrews (half day)

Excursion 11 Kingsbarns – Randerston (half day)

Excursion 12 Pittenweem – St Monans (half day)

Part 1. The Strathclyde Group

Part 2. The Lower Limestone Formation

Excursion 13 St Monans–Ardross (half day)

Excursion 14 Ardross–Elie Harbour (half day)

Excursion 15 Kincraig (half day)

Excursion 16 East Lomond (half day)

Excursion 17 Bishop Hill (half day)

Excursion 18 Kinghorn–Kirkcaldy (whole day)


Fife and Angus Geology was first published in 1968, a second edition appearing in 1973. These early editions owed much to the encouragement of the late Professor C. F. Davidson and the critical appraisal of R. Johnston, both of the St Andrews University Geology Department.

By 1985, however, Fife and Angus Geology was out of print and much new work on the geology of the area had been published. The opportunity was therefore taken to re-write completely the introductory chapters, incorporating new information into all the itineraries, omitting from the guide book the excursions to the area between Stonehaven and Aberdeen and to South Queensferry since both are very well covered by the Aberdeen and Lothian guides respectively, and combining or modifying some of the previous itineraries. Two new itineraries have resulted, one for the North Fife Hills and the other for the area lying between Dundee and Perth.

Over the years gentle but persistent encouragement to produce a new edition came from Douglas Grant and many other friends and colleagues and I am grateful to them all for this, as I am to my wife for reading and rereading the manuscript over a considerable period. The manuscript was put on the word processor by Sue Canfield and Margaret Connolly with patience and understanding. The maps and tables were entirely redrafted or are new, the work of Graeme Sandeman and Janet Mykura of the Cartographic and Graphic Services of the School of Geography and Geology, University of St Andrews.

Scope of the guide and further references

The whole-day and half-day excursions are designed to illustrate the geology of the area. Most of them are or were excursions run from the Department of Geography and Geology, St Andrews University. Two can be reached from St Andrews on foot; the remainder require transport and in a number of cases it is helpful to be dropped at one point and picked up at another.

References to the appropriate maps and literature are included with each itinerary, but for the area as a whole the 1/250,000 Tayforth Solid Geology Sheet 56N 04W of the British Geological Survey is useful. One-inch to the mile or 1/50,000 Geological Survey maps are available for most of the area and are listed at the beginning of each itinerary with the prefix GS. Six-inch to the mile or 1/10,000 geological maps of some of the coalfields are published; others are available for inspection at the office of the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh. Out of print maps may also be consulted there. Ordnance Survey maps are also listed for each itinerary with the prefix OS and refer to the 1/50,000 maps of Scotland.

The British Regional Geology Handbooks The Midland Valley by I. B. Cameron and D. Stephenson (1985) and The Grampian Highlands by G. S. Johnstone (1966), both published by HMSO, contain abundant references and are revised from time to time. For a treatment of the whole country the Geology of Scotland edited by G. Y. Craig (1991) is comprehensive and has long lists of references. Readers not familiar with geological terminology are referred to the Penguin or other geological dictionaries. The names of fossils have been kept to an elementary level deliberately in the belief that names such as Productus are more meaningful to the non-specialist. Full faunal lists for most of the fossil localities in Fife are to be found in the publications of the Geological Survey, e.g. Geology of East Fife (Forsyth and Chisholm 1977).

Map 1 indicates the location of the 18 excursions. Coastal excursions almost all require mid- to low tide and for Excursion 15 (Kincraig) low tide is essential for access.


To determine the time of high tide on any particular day, note how many days after new moon or full moon it is. New moon is marked on the chart as day zero and full moon as day 15. Then read along the bottom of the chart to the day in question and follow the column up. The time of high tide lies between the two heavy black lines which cross the chart obliquely. Spring tides, those with the greatest range, occur approximately 2 days and 16 days after new moon; while neap tides, those with the least range, occur approximately 9 and 23 days after new moon.

  • High tide is 60 minutes earlier at Stonehaven.
  • High tide is 50 minutes earlier at Fife Ness.
  • High tide is 40 minutes earlier at Methil.

More precise times can be obtained from the Admiralty Tide Tables.