Mystery as pagan altar and symbol unearthed in Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park

Two mysterious pagan objects have been removed from a secluded part of Holyrood Park after they were uncovered by chance, the Evening News can reveal.

Saturday, 22nd June 2019, 08:24 am
The works involved the removal of two unauthorised concrete installations on Whinny Hill, discovered in May 2018. Picture: HES

Archaeologists were called in after the remains of a concrete “altar” and a pagan metal plaque were discovered on Whinny Hill above St Margaret’s Loch.

The ornate metal plaque, which experts have confirmed to the Evening News as likely to be pagan, was found embedded in the ground within a sod of turf cut in a triangle shape. It depicted two figures – a male figure with horns and a female figure in a surrender pose – set within a pentagram within a circle.

The pentagram is a recognised symbol of paganism and is also used in devil worship.

The second find was a concrete “altar” with display objects found next to the plinth. Both were buried beneath topsoil.

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Specialists were called in by park guardians Historic Environment Scotland after the bizarre items were found in May last year.

But, even more curiously, according to a new report compiled by Musselburgh-based firm CFA Archaeology Ltd and seen by the Evening News, both had been removed “by persons unknown” at some point before they investigated the site in April this year, leaving just the concrete plinth and holes in the turf.

Mark Black, president of the UK Pagan Council, said the plaque was mostly likely pagan after the images of the find were shown to him yesterday.

He said the points of the pentagram depict the four elements, earth, fire, air and water.

According to Mr Black, the two figures are the Horned God and the Goddess of Water.

There are also a number of rune stones embedded in the concrete triangle around the plaque, as well as a number of small figures, one apparently of an angel.

However, he said it was strongly against pagan tradition to use concrete in any kind of ritual, as only natural materials such as wood or stone should be used.

“It’s a mystery,” Mr Black said. “No pagan I know of would embed a pentacle in concrete, or leave it behind. As a pagan you’d leave a site in exactly the same state as you found it.”

The objects appear to have been installed shortly before May 2018, as they did not appear in any archaeological surveys until that point.

They were spotted by staff of Historic Environment Scotland, which manages the park on behalf of the Queen.

The area where they were found is above and to the East of the ruins of St Anthony’s Chapel which overlooks St Margaret’s Loch and well away from any paths.

The pentagram has long been associated with paganism. However, it is used by so many different groups – including many branches of paganism, as well as LaVeyan Satanism – that it is difficult to determine who might be responsible for these objects.

“These people either didn’t know what they were doing, or they were just messing around,” said Mr Black.

A spokesperson for Historic Environment Scotland said: “In 2018, our Rangers discovered that ground in Holyrood Park had been disturbed with a metal plaque of a pentagram embedded in the earth. This item was subsequently removed.

“Holyrood Park is a scheduled monument. It’s a criminal offence to carry out unauthorised works such as this.”

This is not the first time that mysterious objects have been discovered in Holyrood Park.

In 1836 a number of miniature coffins were discovered by a group of boys in a cave on the slopes of Arthur’s Seat. The 17 coffins each contained a tiny figure, dressed in cloth outfits.

A number of theories were put forward at the time to explain who had created the coffins and why, including that they were voodoo dolls, Satanic symbols, or simply a tragic burial ritual.