The fairy coffins of Edinburgh

The fairy coffins of Edinburgh

posted in: Writing prompts | 0


Welcome to WITW’s first weekly writing prompt!

Every Wednesday I’ll be sharing with you something I’ve found that I reckon is holding a few stories.

You can use these prompts to get inspired, whether it’s to add something to your novel, create a whole new novel or novella, or write a short story to submit to a magazine.

The sky’s the limit!

If you’d like these prompts in your inbox, sign up here.


Get involved

I have big plans for these prompts, including future competitions, so I’d love to know if people would be interested.
You can show that interest by writing a piece of flash fiction, no more than 100 words, and leaving it as a comment on this Facebook post or in the comments below.
Next Tuesday, I’ll pick my favourites to share.
And one day this year, hopefully it’ll be winners instead of favourites, with prizes and everything.


Fairy Coffins

Onto this week’s writing prompt!

If you’ve been to Edinburgh, Scotland, you’ll have probably seen Arthur’s Seat. The beautiful hill that rises just beyond the Scottish Parliament building, usually with a line of tourists walking up it (which, one day, included me).

Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh
Cast your imagination back to the summer of 1836, when a group of boys were hunting rabbits along the base of Arthur’s Seat. To escape the wind (because, Scotland), they shelter in a small hollow.

In that hollow, one of the boy’s notices three orderly slabs of slate hiding a small cave. Hidden inside were 17 miniature coffins.
In July, 1836, paranormal investigator, Charles Fort, described the findings in the London Times:


‘Seventeen tiny coffins. Three or four inches long. In the coffins were miniature wooden figures. They were dressed differently in both style and material. There were two tiers of eight coffins each, and a third one begun, with one coffin. In the first tier, the coffins were quite decayed, and the wrappings had moldered away. In the second tier, the effects of age had not advanced so far. And the top coffin was quite recent looking.’


Eight of the surviving coffins are now on display at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh (well worth a visit, especially on a rainy day). Read/watch all about it on the museum’s website.

The fairy coffins of Arthur's Seat
Photo credit: via Wikipedia


These coffins and their fairy sized inhabitants date back to the time of the Resurrection Men and Burke and Hare, the infamous duo who went from body snatching in the graveyards to murdering in the dark shadows of the city, stashing their victims in the vaults.

There are theories as to what these coffins are and why they were made.

But what do you think?

Inspired by miniature, occupied coffins discovered in Victorian Edinburgh, will your story…

Be steampunk?
Have real fairies?
Connect Voodoo to the Resurrection Men?
Represent the body snatchers that haunted the graveyards?

If you choose to write a few sentences, or up to 100 words, for your inspired story, character or concept, remember to leave it in the comments and I’ll pick my favourites to share next week.


Happy writing.



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