Edinburgh's VolcanoOne of the many interesting features of Edinburgh is that it sits in the shadow of a volcano. Fortunately for us this volcano - which forms Arthur's Seat - has been extinct for many years.
Arthur's Seat is located in Holyrood park to the East of the Royal Mile and is a popular destination for Edinburgh tourists and locals alike. It is about 823 foot high and the views from the top are spectacular.
Although the whole volcanic range of hills is often referred to as Arthur's Seat, the name strictly refers to just the largest peak. This landmark is also known as the Lion's Head - from certain angles, the range resembles a crouching lion.
The volcano is believed to have first erupted some 350 million years ago. Since then erosion and glaciation have reduced it to its current size.
Why Is It Called Arthur's Seat?The origin of the name Arthur's seat is uncertain. The remains of a number of ancient hillforts have been found in the area and it appears to have been the scene of much fighting.
Some people like to believe that there is indeed a connection between Edinburgh and King Arthur himself. One suggestion is that it might even have been the location for Camelot castle, however there is little if any evidence to support this.
Others trace the name to a poem comparing a famous local warrior to Arthur. It has also been suggested that the name could be a corruption of the name Ard-na Said - "the height of arrows".
Miniature CoffinsLike most of Edinburgh, Arthur's Seat has seen its fair share of strange events. One of the most famous was the discovery in 1836 of a group of seventeen miniature coffins in the cliff-side.
This discovery was included by Charles Fort in his "Book of the Damned". According to Fort:
In the coffins were miniature wooden figures. They were dressed differently both in style and material. There were two tiers of eight coffins each, and a third tier begun, with one coffin.
The extraordinary datum, which has especially made mystery here:
That the coffins had been deposited singly, in the little cave, and at intervals of many years. In the first tier, the coffins were quite decayed, and the wrappings had moldered away. In the second tier, the effects of age had not advanced so far. And the top coffin was quite recent-looking.
No-one knows for sure why the coffins were there. Theories have included everything from gypsy traditions to witchcraft. One popular theory is that they were intended to represent the victims of the resurrectionists and give them a symbolic (re)burial.
The coffins also feature in the 2001 crime novel "The Falls" by Ian Rankin.