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Coffins found on Arthur's Seat

In 1836 five young boys, hunting for rabbits on Arthur's seat found 17 minature coffins hidden inside a cave.

They were arranged under slates on three teirs, two tiers of eight and one solitary coffin on the top. Each coffin, only 4 inches in length contained a little wooden figure, expertly carved with painted black boots and custom made clothes.

The ones on the bottom teir were more deteriorated suggesting that they had been placed there at different times, the ones on top being the most recent.

But what do they represent?

Although there have been many suggestions, they were witches voodoo dolls, good luck charms carried by sailors then buried once they had served their purpose and one theory is that they represent the victims of Burke & Hare. (Burke was hung in 1829, just seven years before to the dolls were found.)

The fact remains that whoever was responsible for placing them there took their secret to their own grave and the little coffins are just as much a mystery today.

They were held by a private collector until 1901 when they were presented to The Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh where eight of them are on display to the public today, the remainder have since crumbled to dust.




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