I’ve walked by Piershill Cemetery many times over the years but it was not until I was looking to mix up my walk to Portobello one day that I stopped in to see what was behind the gates.
I was surprised to find a large Jewish section at the back of the graveyard, not the most common site in Scotland! But the main thing that caught my eye was a large gravestone on top of a mound which is dedicated to The Great Lafayette.
Turns out The Great Lafayette, otherwise known as Sigmund Neuberger, was a German illusionist from the turn of the 20th century – the highest-paid magician of his time.
Neuberger had a beloved pet dog, Beauty, who died while he was performing in Edinburgh. Neuberger arranged for his dog to be buried in Piershill and the city agreed, on the condition that Neuberger himself would also be interned there when he died.
Four days later The Great Lafayette was on stage in Edinburgh performing an illusion with a lion when a lamp above him malfunctioned and the whole stage set caught on fire. The Great Lafayette died in the fire and his body was taken away to be cremated only for a second body of The Great Lafayette to be found a few days later! His double had also died in the fire.
As per the agreement The Great Lafayette, the superstar magician of the era, was buried in this unassuming graveyard on the outskirts of Edinburgh.