Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hamilton mausoleum

This rather phallic structure is the mausoleum constructed by Scottish nobleman Alexander Hamilton, 10th Duke of Hamilton (1767-1852) for his family. Nicknamed "Il Magnifico," it stands 120' high, has a marble mosaic floor and bronze doors, and was built over several years at a cost of £130,000. The duke had several relatives exhumed and placed in some of the 28 niches in the crypt. He planned to join them upon his death - but atop an enormous black marble plinth in the chapel and as a mummy! His interest in ancient Egypt prompted him to secure an authentic sarcophagus and the services of surgeon and mummy expert Thomas Pettigrew (1791–1865) to preserve his body. The 10th Duke of Hamilton's wishes were carried out, but he did not rest there in perpetuity. In 1921, it was feared that the mausoleum would collapse, so he and his relatives were removed and interred in Bent Cemetery. The mausoleum still stands, but it did sink 18 feet! Though it no longer houses the duke's sarcophagus and mummy, the structure still holds some surprises. With a reverberation period of about 15 seconds, it is said to have the longest echo in any building in Scotland. In addition, the chapel has 4 "whispering alcoves": a whisper on one end can be clearly heard at the other end, 12' away.

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