Monday, 18 February 2013

Holyrood Park and Arthur Seat

My first adventure into the park and Arthur Seat was at the early age of 18 months, my mother took me to the top, and ever since it has been my favourite place in a city that offers many exciting, original and fascinating places. Originally a royal park in centuries past for hunting, also it has been known as the Kings Park or Queens Park depending who was on the throne, today it is generally called Holyrood Park. As I child, teenager & adult I have explored, walked, ran and played football in it and have never tired of the place as it changes with the seasons. 

Arthur Seat 823ft (253m) the name is one of the mysteries of the park, not generally thought to be anything to do with the heroic king, but it has been suggested that it may derive from a Gaelic phrase Ard-na-Said “ Height of the Arrows” it sits majestically in the middle the remnants of an ancient volcano from 350 million years ago, the park still has the evidence of early dwellers from the stone and bronze ages, within its ground is the ruin of the 12C Abbey of Holy Rood and next to it the British monarch’s B&B !! The Palace of Holyrood House, which is official Scottish residence of the Monarch.

Legend tells us that King David! went hunting on a religious day and was charged by stag to saved himself he held up a holy rood (a crucifix) between the stags antlers and it ran away in a dream that night he was told to build a monastery in  thanks for his life. He had in the Abbey of the Holy Rood, built in 1128, which was attended by St Augustine monks, also known as cannons, they walked up the road to Edinburgh and it became known as the canons gait, gait is the old Scots word for way or walk. A burgh was established and today it is known by and anglicised name of Cannongate.  Also on its border we now have the new Scottish Parliament and an attraction called Dynamic Earth which charts the earth’s history from the big bang.

To walk round the park it is 3.1 miles or 5K. It has 3 lochs two manmade St Margaret’s & Dunsapie created by Queen Victoria’s husband Albert and the other Duddingston is a bird sanctuary and a place of scientific significance.  Over the centuries It has been a place of joy, sadness, murder, suicide, lovers, a sense of freedom and yet another mystery – In 1836 five boys schoolboys discovered in a cave on the high slopes of the summit, inside where two rows of tiny coffins 3 or 4 inches in height, 17 in all, each containing a carefully carved wooden figure dressed in funeral clothes. There is no clear explanation as to what they were for some suggest it was to do with black magic, what do you think?

Today the park is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike, for me it is a joy, to have such a natural beauty in the middle of the city I think is something special.

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