Castle Trail Header edit

Castle Quest

How did maths shape Edinburgh Castle and make life within it possible? We have adapted our Castle Quest to use at home, in school or outside.

These activities are aimed at P5-7 pupils and cover aspects of Numeracy and Mathematics and Social Studies areas of Curriculum for Excellence.

Social distancing measures should be observed at all times when completing activities in public.

Shape spotters

Edinburgh Castle is made up of lots of different shapes. Each shape was chosen carefully to make the castle stronger, easier to defend or just to look nice.

Round your house, or when out for a walk find the following shapes and discuss why you think each item is that shape?

  • Cylinder
  • Rectangle
  • Arch
  • Triangle
Window Ledges

A different angle

Accurate measurements were essential when building castles. Builders used lots of different ways of measuring over the years including string, sticks, compasses and even body parts!

Have a go at working out the height of an tree, pole or building either out in the garden or when out for a walk.

  1. Pick a landmark and stand at it's base. Estimate it's height
  2. Walk away, stopping regularly to look between your legs
  3. Stop walking when you can see the top of the landmark between your legs.
  4. Measure the distance between yourself and the landmark using paces or a measuring tape.
  5. This distance is roughly equal to the height of the landmark
Flagpole measure

Measuring up

Horses' heights are measured in Hands (hh). Since the time of ancient Egypt this unit of measurement has been used and was roughly the width of a man's hand. This eventually got a bit confusing, so in 1541 King Henry VIII standardised the measurement so that 1hh = 4 inches

Horse measurement image only

Work out how tall you are in hands.

Measure yourself in inches using a tape measure or ruler. If 1 Hand (hh) is equal to 4 inches, you need to divide your measurement by 4.

Example: 54 Inches divided by 4 equals 13.5. So we would call this 14hh


How many hands tall are you?

Something to eat

During war and training exercises soldiers call their food supply field rations. The 24 Hour Ration Pack can feed one person for one day, and includes high energy snacks, drinks and three main meals which are fully cooked and ready to eat.

The ration pack in Edinburgh Castle has 36 items. What would you include in your 24 hour ration pack?

Find your way

The pilots of planes such as the Heinkel III would have navigated their way using a compass and maps.

Work out where North, South, East and West would go on the drawing below using the photo of this compass in the National War Museum.

Why do you think there is an O on the compass?

Side by side compass

Pilots would have looked for large buildings, hills and rivers on the ground below to help their navigation.

Find a high point of ground near you, or use a viewpoint on Google Maps like the top of Arthurs Seat.

Use a compass to find north. You can find a compass on most smart phones or on Google Maps.

If you turn 90 degrees to the left what can you see now?

Castle attack

Edinburgh Castle was one of the most attacked places in the UK. When enemies attacked, people in the castle would not be able to leave. The well supplied all the water. If the water ran out, the castle would have to surrender.

During attacks the castle had 120 soldiers. If each soldier needed 3 litres of water per day to drink, wash and cook with.

How much water would 120 soldiers need each day?

If the well holds 60,000 litres how long could 120 soldiers survive during an attack?

Mason marks

Masons carved the stones used to build Edinburgh Castle. They would carve a mark into each stone like a signature.

Masons Marks only

Copy these mason's marks. Find the lines of symmetry for each one.

Create your own mason's mark with 2 or more lines of symmetry.

Castle Trail Header edit

This trail has been adapted for home learning whilst Edinburgh Castle is closed to visitors. You can find the original trail and teachers notes below

Discover more about the fascinating history of Edinburgh Castle on the Historic Environment Scotland website

Produced by National Museums Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland and The Regimental Museums in Edinburgh Castle

Designed and illustrated by Mark Dawson.

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