At the heart of the city
Holyrood Park is a unique historic landscape in the heart of the city, whose dramatic crags and hills give Edinburgh part of its distinctive skyline. The park contains a wealth of history and archaeology spanning thousands of years.
Because of this history the park is a Scheduled Monument and looked after by Historic Scotland. Due to its diverse flora and geology it is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Please respect the fragility of the park and help the Ranger Service when you visit by abiding by the park rules and regulations.
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.
From at least the 1100s 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 close relationship 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.
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- The amazing view of Edinburgh from Arthur’s Seat – the park’s highest point at 251m above sea level – and the Salisbury Crags, world famous since their association with famous geologist James Hutton in the 1700s, which dominate the Edinburgh skyline.
- ultivation 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.