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Holyrood Park

(The Queen's Park)

'Fringe Sunday' in Holyrood Park, part of Edinburgh's Festival
©2019 Gazetteer for Scotland

'Fringe Sunday' in Holyrood Park, part of Edinburgh's Festival

A remarkable area of greenspace in the centre of Edinburgh, Holyrood Park extends to 260 ha (650 acres) next to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, to the southeast of the Old Town. Originally a royal hunting estate, it was enclosed by King James V around 1540.

Known also as the Queen's Park, because it is still owned by the monarch, it is almost always open for the public to enjoy. Although entirely surrounded by the city, the park offers solitude and stimulating walking.

The park contains Arthur's Seat, the remains of an ancient volcano, together with the dramatic Salisbury Crags and three lochs, the largest of which is Duddingston Loch, a bird sanctuary, together with Dunsapie Loch and St. Margaret's Loch. Only Duddingston is natural; the others were artificially-created in the middle of the 19th Century, following a plan drawn up by Prince Albert to make the park more accessible, which also included laying out the roads which we see today.

The park also contains evidence of several Iron-Age forts and farm-steads, together with well-preserved cultivation terraces. In 1832, the Holyrood Park was seriously considered as the site of a grand garden-cemetery, although this was never built. On the night of the 2nd April 1916, a German Zeppelin airship dropped the remainder of its bombs in the Park when it came under fire following the only air-raid on Edinburgh during the First World War. The entire park is now protected as a Scheduled Ancient Monument and Site of Special Scientific Interest.

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