Ancient hillfort ‘built by the mysterious Votadini tribe’ and dating back up to 3,000 years is discovered near the top of Arthur’s Seat by archaeologists
- Excavation is taking place on the extinct volcano that overlooks Edinburgh
- Work began in March 2020, but was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic
- The settlement features thick stone walls and evidence of farming activity
- The Votadini people who built the fort were later subsumed by Roman culture
Archaeologists working on top of Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh have uncovered the remains of an ancient hillfort thought to date back up to 3,000 years ago.
The prehistoric walls atop the extinct volcano were built by the Votadini — an Iron-Age Celtic tribe who once lived in south-east Scotland and north-east England.
The Votadini were also responsible for the burial site at Traprain Law in East Lothian — which was thought to have been their capital.
Finds from Traprain Law — which include Roman coins from the continent — suggest the Votadini were ultimately Romanized and assimilated into early Scottish culture.
Archaeologists working on top of Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh have uncovered the remains of an ancient hillfort, pictured, thought to date back up to 3,000 years ago
The excavation work on Arthur’s Seat’s north face — which presently comprises three trenches — is being conducted by CFA Archaeology in collaboration with Historic Environment Scotland.
‘More results from Arthur’s Seat! The wall line of what we think is the fort’s rampart is still surviving despite erosion,’ CFA Archaeology tweeted last week.
‘Hard work to get our tools up the hill, but worth it for the view!’ they added.
Previous digs on the 820ft-high (250m) summit had revealed 18ft-thick (5.4m) stone walls, which reached four feet (1.2 metres) in height and blocked off one side of the peak — while sheer cliffs protected the other.
Archaeologists have also discovered evidence that the Votadini used part of the land within the hilltop settlement for farming. The now-barren site overlooking the Firth of Forth would have once been bustling with farmers and traders.
‘This was programmed work to evaluate the condition of archaeological remains within the park, which had initially begun in March but was postponed following the outbreak of coronavirus,’ Historic Environment Scotland told Edinburgh Live.
‘As an ancient monument which has seen thousands of years of activity, the park is rich in archaeological remains, which provide an indication of those who lived here before,’ they continued.
‘We have a team currently working who have opened up three trial trenches aimed at locating and identifying the nature and extent of archaeological features on a plateau near the summit of Arthur’s Seat.
‘Initial findings are still being assessed but will help build a fuller picture of how the park was used and developed over the centuries, and inform the future management of this amazing place.’
Previous digs on the 820ft summit of Arthur’s Seat, pictured, revealed 18ft-thick stone walls, reaching around four feet tall, that blocked off one side of the peak — while sheer cliffs protected the other
The prehistoric walls on the extinct volcano, pictured, were built by the Votadini — an Iron-Age Celtic tribe who once lived in southeast Scotland and northeast England
Arthur’s Seat is no stranger to mystery and legends. The peak takes its name from the folktale suggesting that the mythical King Arthur is buried, asleep, in a glass coffin at the heart of the volcanic hill.
In the summer of 1836, a collection of 17 curious ‘Lilliputian coffins’ — containing tiny, dressed dolls — were found in a recess in the rocks of the northeast side hill by a group of young boys who had been out rabbiting.
Archaeologists working on top of Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh, pictured, have uncovered the remains of an ancient hillfort thought to date back up to 3,000 years
Arthur’s Seat takes its name from the folktale suggesting that the mythical King Arthur is buried, asleep, in a glass coffin at the heart of the volcanic hill, which is pictured here with Edinburgh in the foreground