Walk Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh

The iconic backdrop of Edinburgh, visible throughout the city, Arthur’s seat stands proud. This extinct volcano is in the heart of the city and a popular place for hill walkers, tourists and locals. From the top, you get spectacular views across the city of Edinburgh to the Firth of Forth.

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The Legend of Arthur’s Seat

Arthur’s Seat has understandably attracted many myths and legends throughout the years. Most well-known is the connection to King Arthur, and that this is the site of Camelot – King Arthur’s castle.

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Arthur's Seat and Salisbury Crags in Edinburgh Scotland

The History of Arthur’s Seat

Arthur’s Seat is an extinct volcano, which also forms Calton Hill and Castle Rock. Lava samples have been dated to between 341 and 335 million years old!

Arthur’s Seat has been settled for many years, and there are remains of hill forts at the summit, including an Iron Age hill fort and one which is thought to be the hill fort of the Votadini (dating to around 600 AD).

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The Heritage Tourist on Arthur's Seat with Edinburgh city

The Mysterious Coffins

One of the most well-known and curious finds on Arthur’s Seat are 17 small coffins. They were found by some boys who were rabbit hunting in 1836, and no one knows what these mysterious coffins were used for. Many different ideas have been put forward, including witchcraft, or victims of Burke and Hare (infamous Edinburgh murderers). The coffins are now displayed in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Arthur's Seat miniature coffins in the national museum of scotland

St Anthony’s Chapel

The ruins of St Anthony’s Chapel sit in Holyrood Par, just above St Margaret’s Loch. We don’t know much about the chapel, but it is thought to be associated with the nearby Holyrood Abbey. It is thought it may date back to the 1300s, but now stands in ruins and protected by Historic Environment Scotland.

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The Geology of Arthur’s Seat

The famous geologist James Hutton, who founded the ideas modern geology, studied the geology of Arthur’s Seat. He discovered that the sedimentary rock deposition and formation of igneous rocks occurred at different stages – which went against the beliefs of his time. An area of Salisbury Crags is called Hutton’s Section as you can see magma pushing through sedimentary rocks in the section.

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Hiking Arthur’s Seat

Arthur’s Seat is 822ft tall, and has paths leading in all directions. Paths vary in degree of difficulty, with some offering a more gentle and longer route up and around to the summit. It’s important to stick to the paths when climbing Arthur’s Seat, there have been instances in the past when people have found themselves in tricky situations and had to have been airlifted off.

The hike is achievable for most levels of fitness, and does not require any specific training or equipment.

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Holyrood Park and St Margaret’s Loch

Holyrood Park is next to Holyrood Palace, which sits at the bottom of the Royal Mile, and is the Queen’s Scottish residence. Holyrood Park covers a wide area, and Arthur’s Seat sits within it, along with several lochs, the crags, and open space.

St Margaret’s Loch lies within Holyrood Park, in the shadow of Arthur’s Seat. Come summer, the loch is filled with swans, geese and ducks.

The lochs at Arthur's Seat, Holyrood Park

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How to get to Arthur’s Seat

Arthur’s seat is easily accessed by many different routes from Edinburgh city centre. For one of the most straightforward walking routes up Arthur’s Seat, approach the hill from Edinburgh University’s Pollock Halls – which are just off of Newington, or beside the Common Wealth Swimming Pool. You can also access it easily from Holyrood park, which is just at the bottom of the Royal Mile.

Have a watch of my reel climbing Arthur’s Seat on instagram? IG // Emilyrebeccajohnston

Have you ever climbed Arthur’s Seat?


Published by Emily Johnston

Archaeologist and Heritage Tourist Blogger at www.heritagetourist.co.uk

14 thoughts on “Walk Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh

  1. Love this post! Iā€™d really like to visit Edinburgh some day, so will bookmark this post for later.


  2. I have always wanted to go to Scotland! These pictures are so beautiful, I absolutely loved reading this! Thanks for sharing!! šŸ™‚


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