Mysterious ‘Altar’ unearthed in Holyrood Park most likely used by pagans not devil worshippers

The metal plaque was found underneath a triangle of turf. Picture: contributedThe metal plaque was found underneath a triangle of turf. Picture: contributed
The metal plaque was found underneath a triangle of turf. Picture: contributed
Two mysterious pagan objects have been removed from a secluded part of Holyrood Park after they were uncovered by chance.

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 Scotsman as likely to be pagan, was found embedded in the ground within a sod of turf cut in a triangle shape.

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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.

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 and seen by The Scotsman, 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 behind.

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 runestones embedded in the concrete triangle around the plaque, as well as a number of small figures, one apparently of an angel. However, Mr Black 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.

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“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 several branches of paganism, as well as LaVeyan Satanism, 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,” Mr Black said.

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.”