Robert Mylne and the first Baroque mural monument in Greyfriars Kirkyard, 1675

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The small sepulchral monument dated 1675 to Alexander Bethune of Long Hermiston (d.1672), writer to the signet, by Robert Mylne of Balfargie, was the first to display an elaborated mixture of pagan and Christian symbolism and iconography within a well-designed architecture of classical language. Commissioned by the widow, Marjory Kennedy, it clearly departs from the strapwork decoration displayed in the older tombs flanking it on the east wall of Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh. It not only created the precedent for subsequent, larger monuments in Greyfriars but it also influenced the design of the main entrance to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the most prestigious architectural project during the 1670s in Scotland. Bethune’s monument was subsequently reused as burial by the Spens family during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with the inscriptions modified in accordance. This paper analyses the monument in its context, discussing its architecture and influence.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDeath in Scotland
Subtitle of host publicationChapters from the Twelfth Century to the Twenty-First Century
EditorsPeter C. Jupp, Hilary J. Grainger
Place of PublicationOxford
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781789972702
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2019

Publication series

NameStudies in the History and Culture of Scotland


  • mural monuments
  • Robert Mylne
  • Greyfriars Kirkyard
  • Baroque architecture
  • Holyrood


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