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Arthur’s Seat History

Arthur’s Seat is the main hill in a group of seven that form most of Holyrood Park, a 650 acre natural highland expanse that provides a spectacular natural backdrop in the middle of the city of Edinburgh. It dominates the area, reaching a height of 823ft and gives spectacular views of the city. The hills were formed 350 million years ago and together with the formation of an adjacent hill are often likened to a crouching lion. They were formed by volcanic eruption and lava flow.

The derivation of the word Arthur may have been from the gaelic for ‘highland’ or from King Arthur whose name was found in a poem by the Votadini people who inhabited a hillfort in the area in about 600AD.

Prehistoric defences can be seen on the hillside with two stony banks on the east side being the remains of an Iron Age fort. Cultivation terraces can also be seen nearby.

The only building in Holyrood Park is St Anthony’s Chapel. Only a few walls remain and it’s thought to have been built around the 14th century.

 

Arthur’s Seat Visit

Usually when you go mountain climbing, it’s a drive of an hour or so to get to the base, and then you start climbing, but with Arthur’s Seat, on a visit to Edinburgh, the base is simply within walking distance from the city centre. OK, as a test, it’s not the world’s highest, but it’s still a good push to get to the top and it’s a great height and distance if you only want to spend a couple of hours there.

The mountain, or hill, forms part of Holyrood Park or Queen’s Park. The other major rock formation is the Salisbury Crags which have near vertical faces in certain parts and which can be seen clearly from Edinburgh Castle.

A great starting point for a walk up is the Holyrood car park. It’s then just a question of crossing the road and up you go! The path goes anti-clockwise, rising fairly quickly, and you soon get a great view of Edinburgh Castle. The Salisbury Crags then come up on your left, before the path descends quickly to the base of Arthur’s Seat. You can then either carry on up or around, or take a left turn down the valley to see St Anthony’s Chapel (or the remains of it!) and St Margaret’s Loch.

The place is a cross between a park and a mountain, and must be great for locals, certainly dog owners. It’s hard to believe, when climbing up, that you’re so close to city centre life and this must make for busy times in the summer. In getting to the top, there are different routes and each would test all standards of climber.

Being a northern city in the UK, Edinburgh can get a fair amount of snow and ice, and I can imagine you could spend a couple of bracing hours in the winter getting to the top, before quickly getting back to a warm drink in your hotel. That’s the novelty of the place.