Alumni Services

Running up that hill

In each edition of Edit magazine we focus on an iconic campus or city landmark and share your recollections of its role in your student days. Next up is Calton Hill. Does it hold a place in your Edinburgh memories?

Calton Hill

Calton Hill, a displaced fragment of the Arthur’s Seat volcano, is probably best known for its views of other Edinburgh attractions.

Was this part of its appeal? Did you regularly ascend to collect your thoughts and luxuriate in the views?

The whole world

For a hill whose elevation climbs to just 108m high (355 feet), it affords a city panorama that includes: Arthur’s Seat alongside the cliffs of Salisbury Crags; Holyrood Palace and the Parliament; Leith, the Firth of Forth and across to Fife; Princes Street and the elegant New Town grid, and the Royal Mile climbing up towards the Castle.

It is a unique vantage point that was appreciated by alumnus Robert Louis Stevenson.

Of all places for a view, this Calton Hill is perhaps the best.

Robert Louis Stevenson, 1889

Fire and revelry

Calton Hill is, of course, an attraction in its own right covered with intriguing monuments and the location of historical incident as well as modern day festivals and celebrations.

The Beltane Fire Festival is one such celebration that takes place on the 30th April each year and might well be the source of student revelry recollections for our more recent graduates.

Inspired by the ancient Gaelic festival of Beltane, it was resurrected in 1988 by a small group of enthusiasts including the musical collective Test Dept, with academic support from the School of Scottish Studies at the University.

Initially comprised of just 5 performers and a crowd of no more than 100, the festival is now a major event with over 300 artists and an audience of thousands.

Continuing a tradition

Calton Hill

There are also a number of traditions that you might have wanted to sustain.

Please let us know if we have missed anything essential.

  • Take multiple versions of the iconic photo looking down Princes Street with the Dugald Stewart Monument in the foreground.
  • Clamber up onto the Parthenon inspired National Monument to watch the sun rise or set over the city.
  • Find a unobstructed view of the Hogmanay fireworks and celebrate the start of the new year with a wee dram from a hip flask.

Send your memories

What are your memories of Calton Hill? Send us your treasured recollections and you could feature in the next edition of Edit magazine in January 2015.

You can join the conversation by contributing to a thread in our Edinburgh Alumni LinkedIn group, or you can contact us directly using the details below.

Share your memories of Calton Hill on LinkedIn

Development and Alumni

Contact details



Charles Stewart House
9-16 Chambers Street

Post Code
EH1 1 HT