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Hugh Miller (Cromarty Stone)

· Scottish

Hugh Miller was a Scottish stonemason who became a world renowned geologist and naturalist. It is through his feats of strength we have the Cromarty lifting stone in Scotland.

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My father hails from Cromarty and I lived locally (Portobello, Edinburgh). There seemed little choice but to investigate Hugh Miller with a view to finding his final home and see if the building remained intact.

Only one sketch of the existing building is known to exist (see below).

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It quickly became apparent that there was ambiguity over his address at the time of his suicide. This was compounded by numerous town redevelopments in the 150 years since his death and the renaming of streets in that time period.

Eventually, I was fortunate enough to find an academic article online which gave me the breakthrough I needed.

Amazingly, all I had to do was look upward on Portobello High Street to see a plaque dedicated to his memory. A street that I had walked along innumerable times in daily life.

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Barely visible in the picture below. A small black plaque sits above the grey door, 82 Portobello High Street, Edinburgh, Scotland.

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At this point, I thought the sandstone building to the right was the remains of Hugh Miller's home but I was incorrect. It is actually the recessed building to the left of the grey door. There has been extensive rework and resuse of the stones over time. The orginal building has been split to allow multiple occupancy, including shops. See the building above Captain's Grill and Star shops.

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Rear of Building

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The building bares little resemblance to its former glory and is rather run down. However, it remains worth a visit.

It is also worth noting that Hugh Miller had a small museum nearby on a separate piece of land . No sketches are known to exist of it and it would be a small, private affair.

None the less, it was reported that Hugh placed a (humane!) mantrap in the porch of his museum!

Source: Hugh Miller's Last House and Museum: the enigma of Shrub Mount, Portobello by Ian Campbell and Julian Holder.