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Holyrood Park

Holyrood Park is a unique historic landscape in the heart of the city, whose dramatic crags and hills give Edinburgh its distinctive skyline.

Holyrood Park

At the heart of the city

Holyrood Park is a dramatic open space in the heart of Edinburgh. Its history is interwoven with that of the city.

Encompassing an area of 259 hectares (640 acres), the park is of considerable archaeological and natural heritage interest. As well as being a Scheduled Ancient Monument it is a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of its diverse flora and geology.

The park also forms an iconic part of Edinburgh’s famous skyline. Quarrying was an important activity within the park from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The quarries along the Salisbury Crags helped inspire James Hutton, the 18th-century ‘father of modern geology’, who demonstrated important theories on Earth’s origins.

Prehistoric activity

The discovery of numerous Mesolithic and Neolithic stone and flint tools demonstrate human activity in the park from at least the 5th millennium BC.

By the Bronze Age, people were farming the land and living in small settlements, traces of which survive. One of the most spectacular finds from the area is a hoard of Late Bronze-Age weapons, discovered in Duddingston Loch in 1778.

The rocky slopes of the park were well suited to fortification, and four prehistoric or Dark Age forts are clearly visible on Salisbury Crags, Samson’s Ribs, Arthur’s Seat and Dunsapie Crag. The fort on Dunsapie Crag has traces of houses, possibly from the early Iron Age, preserved in its interior.

Religious links

From at least the 12th century the park has had strong religious associations. Its origins as a royal park lie in its ownership by Holyrood and Kelso Abbeys, and its close relationship with Holyrood Abbey is very significant. St Anthony’s Chapel, perched on a rocky outcrop overlooking St Margaret’s Loch, is one of the key features in the landscape. People still visit the park today for religious occasions and spiritual fulfilment.

A royal pleasure ground

Holyrood Park was a royal pleasure ground for nearly 1,000 years. Its juxtaposition to the Palace of Holyroodhouse  is one of its defining characteristics. The park was enclosed in the 1500s, under royal direction. This has greatly aided its conservation.

Royal associations include David I, James IV, James V, Mary Queen of Scots, Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert. Albert took a particular interest in the park and organised its landscaping in the 1840s and 1850s, introducing a new drainage scheme and the present layout of roads.

Highlights

  • Arthur’s Seat – the park’s highest point at 251m above sea level, and site of a large and well-preserved fort.
  • The Salisbury Crags – world famous since their association with James Hutton in the 1700s, they dominate the Edinburgh skyline.
  • Cultivation terraces – the best-preserved examples in the Lothians, providing evidence of past farming practices. Some of the most striking lie on the east flank of Arthur’s Seat.
  • St Anthony’s Chapel – a picturesque medieval ruin commanding fine views.
  • Duddingston Loch – with its geese and other birdlife, a haven for locals and visitors alike.
PDF icon Holyrood Park Map and Guide [pdf, 797kb]

PDF icon Holyrood Park Traffic Regulation FAQs [pdf, 32kb]

Information on the Ranger service

Facilities


PARK ROAD & FOOTPATH  MANAGEMENT

Sunday Road Closures

Summer
From late March/early April until end of September all roads, except the High Road (where possible) and access to the car parks, will be closed from 08.30 – 18.00 every Sunday.

Winter
From October until late March/early April all roads, except the High Road (where possible) and access to the car parks, will be closed from 08.30 – 16.00 every Sunday.

Other Road Closures

From October until late March/early April the High Road will be closed overnight from 15.30 and it will re-open each morning, if it is safe to do so, by 08.30.

In certain circumstances Roads within the Park may be opened or closed for longer periods or at other times as a result of ice, rock fall, a large public event, an accident or maintenance work taking place.

Information on additional or extended road closures are advertised via local media, radio and traffic information services, as well as yellow advance notice signage where appropriate.

Footpath Restrictions/Closures


There is a diversion in place around the St Anthony's Chapel area due to poor underfoot ground conditions.

PDF icon Detailed road and footpath names [pdf, 1.6mb]

PDF icon External events and park restrictions: April - June 2014 [pdf, 173kb]

Toilets

Toilets are located at the Education Centre, behind Holyrood Palace.

Parking

Parking is available near Holyrood Palace Broad Pavement, St Margaret's Loch, Dunsapie Loch and Duddingston Loch.

Parking near Holyrood Palace Broad Pavement is charged. £1.00 an hour, with a minimum charge of £1.00. The charges apply between 08.30 and 17.30. The Regulations do not apply on Saturdays, Sundays and Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New years Day and Easter Monday. Charges applies to Historic Scotland Members as well.

Cyclists

Off road cycling is not permitted, please keep your bike on the roadways or designated paths.

Holyrood Park Exhibition

An exhibition of the park is available at Holyrood Lodge Information Centre located next to the New Scottish Parliament.

The exhibition explores the history, management, archaelogy and geology of Holyrood Park. Leaflets and maps of the park are available from the centre. Open daily, 9.30 am to 3.00pm

Please contact the Rangers Service on 0131 652 8150 for additional information on the Park.

Bicycle Rack Car Parking Disabled Toilets Display on History Strong Footwear Recommended Toilets

Location

Region – Edinburgh and the Lothians

In Edinburgh, East of Holyrood Palace and Abbey.

Grid reference - NT 2773.

Green Tourism Award - Gold