Only in Edinburgh by Duncan J.D. Smith

83 in the statue’s base suggests it stood on a beach overlooking the dan- gerous straits linking Loch Leven with the sea. That the statue was surrounded by deliberately intertwined branches suggests it was a god- dess to whom prehistoric travellers made offerings to safeguard their crossing. Also found on a beach were the famous Lewis Chessmen (in the Kingdom of the Scots Gallery). These 11 gaming pieces made from walrus ivory were part of a much larger hoard of 93 items recovered in 1831 from a stone vault at Uig Bay on the Hebridean Isle of Lewis. The workmanship appears to be late 12th or early 13th century Scandina- vian. That so many were found together representing four chess sets in total suggests they belonged to a merchant travelling from Norway to Ireland. The reason for their burial, however, remains unclear. The third mysterious exhibit (in the Industry and Empire Gallery) is local to Edinburgh. In June 1836 a group of boys headed up to Ar- thur’s Seat to hunt rabbits. There they discovered 17 miniature coffins in a small cave, each containing a tiny carved and dressed figure. The eight that survived have excited speculation as to their meaning ever since. Explanations have ranged from witchcraft and lucky charms to proxy burials honouring soldiers or even the victims of the body- snatchers Burke and Hare (see no. 43). The real reason will probably never be known. Only a fraction of the National Museum of Scotland’s holdings are displayed. The rest is stored at the National Museums Collection Centre at 242 West Granton Road (EH5). Frombutterflies to traction engines, thematerial here is as varied as it is vast. Research visits by appointment only ( ). Other locations nearby: 34, 36, 37, 38, 42 Old Town These eight tiny coffins were found on Arthur’s Seat