During the summer months, you can join a guided tour of Holyrood Abbey, which lies adjacent to the Palace in the spectacular setting of Arthur’s Seat. Escorted by Wardens dressed in their ancient hunting Stewart tartan, you will learn about the building’s extraordinary history.
The Abbey was founded in 1128 by King David I of Scotland for the Augustinian Canons. According to medieval legend, a vision of a stag with a cross glowing between its antlers came to David while hunting in the area. Interpreting this as an act of God, the King declared that an abbey should be built on the same spot. Holy Rood, the name of the abbey and subsequently the Palace, means ‘Holy Cross’, a fragment of which had been brought to Scotland by David I’s mother, St Margaret, and kept at the Abbey until the 14th century.
The picturesque remains of the Abbey have influenced numerous artists and writers, among them Felix Mendelssohn. Their melancholy grandeur inspired the composer’s great Scottish symphony.