IT has always been one of the more Bohemian parts of Edinburgh but the seaside suburb of Portobello is now playing host to mysterious goings-on after sculptures and other possible works of contemporary art have appeared on Porty’s famous beach.

The latest arrival was a horde of about 20 apparently used Christmas trees which appeared yesterday arranged around a hole dug in the sand in a way that resembles a Celtic fortification.

Only a few days ago, two small sculptures also appeared as if out of nowhere, causing a considerable amount of head scratching among locals.

Made from stones balanced on top of sticks thrust into the sand, they looked suspiciously like the sculptures created by Edinburgh artist Ken Shapely in the Water of Leith near Stockbridge.

On top of that, the only officially sanctioned sculpture on the beach, Tidal Octopus by Lauren Fox, suddenly vanished three days ago, with its disappearance at first being attributed to Storm Frank.

Tidal Octopus was a 5ft-long work in steel unveiled last summer as part of the Art Walk Porty event, which successfully showcased Portobello beach and its “public space and artistic activity” – to use the organisers’ words.

More than 40 artists created works sited at 33 locations on and around the beach, and some local people think the latest sculptural stunts are a “teaser” for this year’s event.

The disappearance of Tidal Octopus saddened local people, one of whom said: “We got used to seeing it and it’s a real shame that it’s gone in the storm.”

The National can reveal, however, that Tidal Octopus was rescued from the sea and now resides in a Portobello public house, though no licensee was laying claim to having it last night.

The two mini-sculptures caused the most discussion locally, with some people saying that Ken Shapely was “doing a Banksy” with his latest work.

“There are a lot of theories but they were clearly not meant to last,” said local resident Kim MacDonald, who walks her dog regularly on the two-mile-long beach renowned for the quality of its sand.

“They have certainly made an impact, however, and some people are saying they are the work of a local man who fancies himself as an artist.

“I have heard the name of Mr Shapely, but his work is all about balancing stones and these were stuck together.

“The arrival of the Christmas trees has made the whole thing surreal. Some people are saying they are an artist’s attempt to say something about the ephemeral nature of Christmas and consumerism, but others are saying it’s just for a bonfire.

“But it does make you think. Porty could be a very arty place.”

Last night Ken Shapely contacted The National from Spain to say that he was not responsible for the two sculptures.

He said: “I have done many balancing sculptures along the Water of Leith and around Scotland over the years, but not in Portobello.”