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Arthur's Seat
Edinburgh, Scotland

[Saturday - 05/01/99] While driving out of Edinburgh, we made it a point to drive past the Palace of Holyroodhouse. While this royal residence is attraction enough, it was the hill which looms over it in the background that was our true objective. The huge crag, which rises to a height of 250 m (823 feet) above sea-level east of Edinburgh, has been known as Arthur's Seat since the fifteenth century AD and is the best of four natural formations so named.

Part of Holyrood Park, it offers a tremendous view of the surrounding country and of the Firth of Forth to the east. The 'seat' itself is said to be the notch between the highest point of the peak and a secondary point a little way to the south, providing a kind of saddle suitable for a giant. There are traces of early defensive works still in existence which may be significant for a true Arthur connection.

As early as the latter half of the sixth century AD, people throughout Britain were already naming their sons Arthur in commemoration of some historical personage. About the same time, Cumbrian bards were composing the first poetry in Welsh. Verses ascribed to Aneirin mention Arthur as proverbial for prowess in battle. The poem is one of a long series of elegies entitled Gododdin, commemorating a force of Britons who assembled near Edinburgh, marched south against the Angles, and fell fighting them at Catterick in Yorkshire, towards the year 600.

The association of the hill with Arthur may be a matter of its being a base for military activity in the sixth century AD. This activity could have resulted in the subsequent connection with Arthur's Scottish legacy.

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Last modified on Wednesday, November 26, 2008
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