View of Edinburgh on a sunny day over Arthur's Seat

Arthur’s Seat

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Arthur’s Seat, Holyrood Park, Edinburgh, EH8 8HG

Arthur’s Seat is an extinct volcano, the highest point in Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park. Climbing routes over the Salisbury Crags (cliffs which sit alongside it) and up the Arthur’s Seat summit are popular with hillwalkers. At 251 metres above sea level, those who reach the top can enjoy breathtaking 360 degree views of the city.

There are many paths to the top with varying degrees of difficulty, so even beginners should be able to reach the summit without too much trouble. Check Geowalks for the best route for you.

Why is it called Arthur’s Seat?

There is no definitive explanation for the name Arthur’s Seat, but many ideas relate to legends surrounding King Arthur. One theory even suggests it could be a possible location for Camelot, his castle and court. Another theory is that the name came from the Gaelic ‘Ard-na Said’ meaning ‘height of arrows’.

Some History …

One of the city’s most iconic landmarks, Arthur’s Seat is older than Edinburgh itself. Formed some 350 million years ago in a volcanic eruption, it is a site of great scientific significance. Although the rock has eroded due to glacial activity, much of the internal structure remains. James Hutton, a scientist known as the ‘Father of Modern Geology’, carried out research there. To this day scientists come from all over the world to study its unique geology, plants and wildlife.

Arthur’s Seat has played a big part in the city’s rich history. Evidence of habitants has been found dating as far back as the stone age, until the surrounding area became a royal park in the 12th century. At this time St Anthony’s Chapel was built, the remains of which can be seen today. There are many macabre stories surrounding Arthur’s Seat throughout history. One of the most famous is the discovery of 17 miniature coffins inside a cave on the north-eastern slopes of the rock in 1836. Each tiny coffin contained a little wooden figure, hand carved and dressed in custom made clothes. A popular theory is that they may represent a mock burial for the 17 known victims of the notorious grave robbers and murderers Burke and Hare. The coffins are now on display at the National Museum of Scotland.