The monuments of Calton Hill. From the left: Observatory House, the City Observatory (peeping out from the trees), the tower is the Nelson Monument, and to the right the columns of the National Monument Calton Hill forms a hub around which Edinburgh rotates. The main thoroughfare of Princes Street points straight at it, making the columns of the 'National Monument' the unmistakable landmark locally referred to as the Acropolis: a memorial to the Napoleonic wars that was never finished. This supernumerary of monuments combine to form a World Heritage Site. Central to these is the tower of the Nelson Monument which commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar and Nelson's death. On its top a flagstaff supports a balloon which is dropped at 1pm every day, in time with the one O'Clock gun, so allowing those out of earshot, for example at Leith docks, to know the exact time. The observatory buildings are still here, although their work moved out to a site next to King's Building in the 1890s. Also here is the monument to Dugald Stewart, a nineteenth century philosopher, whose memory today is over-shadowed by the monument-less David Hume. Most of this page is taken up with photographs from the annual Beltane festival held on Calton Hill on the last day of April. These re-enactments started in 1988, the set of photos lower down the page date from 1990 when the idea was still novel. Evening light with Arthur's Seat beyond Observatory House (right) overlooks the bulk of St Andrew's House, the then (1994) seat of the Scottish Government A contemporary photograph with the North British Hotel centre and showing the new St James Centre to the left of the Scott Monument The new developments at Greenside under the eye of Observatory House built to plans of James Craig in 1776 Calton Hill with the obelisk of the Political Martyrs Monument, below and left of the Nelson Monument, and to its right St Andrew's House flows down the hillside. The large building on the left is the Post Office The Dugald Stewart Monument becomes part of the Beltane festivities. For more details, the Beltane organisation has a full website
The festival revolves around the idea of rekindling fire: leaving behind the winter and welcoming in the new spring with new fire. So torches light the way (above) to a large bonfire. Inadvertently the placing of a torch by Dougald Stewart's urn (left) might fit original intensions.
Drummers give the march to the bonfire rhythm
Greenery welcomes summer
Centre stage is the May Queen, walking from the winter of the last day of April
into the first day of summer (in this tradition) on May Morning
- the celebration of which has long been held on
After the procession, which ends in the lighting of the bonfire, music and jollification take over, marked here by...
...the marimba (water pipes serving for the conventional gourd amplifiers), and the, so familiar, red can of Export
The bonfire is lit
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