Hamilton Mausoleum

Hamilton Mausoleum
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Hamilton Mausoleum

The Hamilton Mausoleum is located within the Low Parks in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, close to the site of the former Hamilton Palace and what today is Junction 6 of the M74 motorway. One of the largest mausolea in the world, the building was started by David Hamilton in 1842 and completed by David Bryce and Alexander Richie in 1858. It was built for the Alexander, 10th Duke of Hamilton (1767 - 1852), at the immense cost of £130,000 as a family chapel and tomb, although its peculiar acoustics prevented its use as a chapel. Designed in a grand style it has been described as "an extraordinary work of architectural sculpture rather than a building". Its dome is 36m (120 feet) high, and there is a fine mosaic marble floor and large bronze doors.

On his death, the 10th Duke was entombed here in an Egyptian sarcophagus, mounted on a black marble plinth. The remains of 16 members of his family were transferred here from the remaining aisle of the nearby collegiate church.

Like much of the Hamilton Estate, the mausoleum was struck by subsidence, due to the removal of the coal beneath. The mausoleum sank 5.5m (18 feet), but surprisingly still stands, although the bodies it contained were mostly transferred to the nearby Bent Cemetery in 1921.

The space has unique but unintended acoustic properties; on 27th May 1994, an echo was recorded as taking 15 seconds to die away to silence and this brought an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records as having the longest reverberation of any building. This record was beaten by another Scottish structure in 2014, when reverberation in the Inchindown Fuel Depot near Invergordon was analysed by acoustic scientists. The Mausoleum is occasionally used by musicians wishing to take advantage of its unusual acoustics.

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