1 March 2023

Edinburgh’s mythical dragons

Arthur Seat

Not only are Edinburgh’s streets and parks decorated with mythical unicorns, deep a little deeper and you’ll find tales of ferocious fire-breathing dragons.

Arthur’s Seat

Arthur Seat

Holyrood Park’s dramatic hills and crags shape Edinburgh’s skyline, and its history and archaeology span thousands of years. Sitting 251m above sea level and giving stunning panoramic views of the city, Arthur’s Seat (the park’s highest point) is an ancient volcano that erupted 350 million years ago.

How exactly Arthur’s Seat got its name remains a mystery. Some people believe that it was the site of Camelot, King’s Arthur’s legendary castle, or that the name was from the Scots Gaelic, Àrd-na-Said, meaning height of arrows.

One of the most elaborate tales of Arthur’s Seat pre-dates even Celtic times – the legend of the sleeping dragon. The story goes that a dragon used to fly around the city, terrorising locals and eating their livestock, until one day it ate so much, it lay down for a sleep, never woke up and its sleeping body became the hill we now know as Arthur’s Seat.

Whatever you choose to believe, thankfully Arthur’s Seat today is not only Edinburgh’s top-rated attraction on Trip Advisor but is an oasis of calm and a great place to blow away the cobwebs – without fear of disturbing any knights or dragons!

Wardrop Close’s dragons

Wardrop's Close

If you fancy getting a few guaranteed images of dragons during your time in Edinburgh, be sure to stop at Wardrop’s Close on the Royal Mile.

Dating to the 1890’s, four dragons decorate Wardrop’s Court (named after John Wardrop, a mason, wright and burgess of the city who built a tenement here in 1790).

The pair of dragons facing the Royal Mile were carved by JS Gibson in the 1890s. A second pair can be seen at the back of the close, which are the work of Arthur Geddes. Created in in 1911 when he was only 16 years old, Arthur was the son of Patrick Geddes, the influential biologist and town planner who dedicated much of his life to the regeneration of Edinburgh’s Old Town.

A major campaigner for combining urban planning with sociology, Patrick Geddes was, at this time, trying to boost the Old Town by bringing university students and tutors to live in the community and make the area a desirable place to live, work and visit. Wardrop’s Court leads into what was once student housing for the University of Edinburgh and these ornate dragons are therefore very fitting with Geddes’s views that all accommodations should include open spaces, light, air and embellishment.

Learn more about folklore and myth in Edinburgh

From spellbinding tales of the famous boy wizard to mystical horned creatures, Edinburgh overflows with enchanting stories


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