North Berwick Law

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North Berwick Law
North berwick law.jpg
North Berwick Law seen from
the seafront of North Berwick
Highest point
Elevation 187 m (614 ft) [1]
Prominence 168 m [1]
Listing Marilyn
Coordinates 56°02′55″N 2°42′57″W / 56.04859°N 2.71597°W / 56.04859; -2.71597Coordinates: 56°02′55″N 2°42′57″W / 56.04859°N 2.71597°W / 56.04859; -2.71597
North Berwick Law is located in East Lothian
North Berwick Law
North Berwick Law
OS grid NT555842
Topo map OS Landranger 66
Berwick Law from the east

North Berwick Law (usually just called Berwick Law) is a conical hill which rises conspicuously from the surrounding landscape (this is the definition of the Lowland Scots word "law").[2] It overlooks the East Lothian town of North Berwick and stands at 613 ft (187 m) above sea level.

It is considerably steeper (1:1 gradient) on its south side.


Geologically, the law is a volcanic plug of hard phonolitic trachyte rock of Carboniferous (Dinantian) age.[3] It has survived the scraping glaciers of the ice age. It is a crag and tail with a prominent tail extending eastwards.


The summit bears remnants of an Iron Age hill fort, and the ruins of later military buildings that were once used by lookouts in both the Napoleonic Wars, and in World War II.

Since 1709 the law has been topped with a whale's jawbone.[4] The bone was replaced three times until being removed, due to safety concerns, in 2005.[4] On 26 June 2008, a fibreglass replica whale bone, the same size as the one that was removed in 2005, was airlifted into place to give North Berwick Law back its landmark.[5] The funding for the replica was donated by an anonymous friend of North Berwick.[4]

Access to the summit

The summit of the hill can be reached by a foothpath starting from a car park located at the foot of the law. The round trip takes about one hour's walk. In order to reduce soil erosion it's warmly recommended to hikers not to leave the established path[6]. The hill top with clear weather offers a stunning view on the Firth of Forth and on the nearby Bass Rock island[7]

See also



  1. ^ a b "North Berwick Law". Database of British and Irish Hills. Retrieved 2018-10-03.
  2. ^ "Law". Dictionary of the Scots Language. Retrieved 2015-05-28.
  3. ^ Read, W. A. et al. (2002) Carboniferous, page 294 in Trewin, N. H. (2002) The Geology of Scotland, 4th edition, London, The Geological Society.
  4. ^ a b c "'Whale' jawbones put back on hill". 2008-06-26. Retrieved 2018-08-30.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Bardwell, Sandra; Megarry, Jacquetta (2018). John Muir Way: A Scottish coast-to-coast route. Rucksack Readers. p. 76. Retrieved 2018-10-06.
  7. ^ Sawyers, June Skinner (1999). Maverick Guide to Scotland. Pelican Publishing. Retrieved 2018-10-06.

External links

  • Computer-generated virtual panoramas North Berwick Law
  • Stuart McHardy, The Goddess in the Landscape of Scotland
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