A briefer entry in The Edinburgh Dead photo-trailer this time around. Its contents, I think, speak for themselves, if in a mysterious and rather cryptic way, so there’s no real need for me to elaborate much. As I said, Edinburgh’s history has no shortage of odd little details that fed into The Edinburgh Dead. Here is the simple, yet decidedly puzzling, outline of one of those details.
In 1836, some boys messing about on Arthur’s Seat – the huge, wild formerly volcanic hill that looms over Edinburgh – chanced upon a tiny cave or crevice, and found something extraordinary within it. Seventeen miniature coffins, each containing a hand-made, clothed wooden figure.
Only eight survive today, and they are on display at the National Museum of Scotland (from the website of which the above photo is borrowed). The origins, purpose and significance of the coffins have remained a mystery. Their maker is unknown. There has, as you might imagine, been an enormous amount of speculation on the subject, much of it revolving around witchcraft, murder, or both.
I read quite a bit about these coffins while I was researching The Edinburgh Dead. I visited them in their museum lodgings (and very strange and slightly spooky they are too). They played a part in shaping the story I came up with. But to say any more than that would be to say too much, I think. So I won’t.
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