Edinburgh Halloween: The creepy 30ft monument Edinburgh locals believed was built for a vampire
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Nestled away amongst the 20th century bungalows of a quiet suburban street in the east of Edinburgh stands the most curious of structures – a 30ft high monument with carved marble panels depicting biblical scenes.
The stunning Miller Mausoleum – known locally as the Craigentinny Marbles – was commissioned in 1848 following the death of William Henry Miller, a flamboyant former MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme, and owner of Craigentinny House.
Miller was a very wealthy man, squirreling away a chunk of his £300,000 fortune to fund for a fitting final resting place to be built in Craigentinny close to modern-day Portobello Road.
He paid renowned architect David Rhind around £20,000 (a massive sum of money back then) to design an extravagant monument inspired by the ancient tombs of Rome’s Appian Way.
Upon Miller’s death, a team of 80 labourers got to work digging out a 30ft deep, stone-lined burial shaft, with a large slab placed over the top.
The extreme depth of the burial plot was a specification set by Miller himself, who was determined to prevent his corpse being exhumed by any would-be grave robbers.
Miller also stipulated that his coffin be encased in lead, and that the mausoleum be built on the open fields of Craigentinny, far away from any churches.
Back then, Craigentinny was a sparsely-populated, open patch of land controlled by the independent burgh of Leith and ticked all the boxes.
One popular theory suggests that the need for such a robust and well-protected tomb, far from any people or religious sites, is evidence that Miller was interested in the occult and feared he would return as a vampire.
But the theory, published in Ron Halliday’s book Edinburgh After Dark, have angered Miller’s living relatives, who have shot down such claims as “pure fantasy”.
The monument is decorated with two expertly-carved marble panels depicting biblical scenes – ‘The Overthrow of the Pharaoh’ and ‘The Song of Moses and Mirriam’. These panels were fixed to either side of the mausoleum upon its completion in 1856, and gave rise to its intriguing name.
When Leith merged with Edinburgh in 1920, the lands surrounding the Craigentinny Marbles were earmarked for residential use.