Edinburgh is known to be haunted. At least that's what it sells itself on, and whether or not you know the stories, if you just walk around Old Town, you can feel the chill in the air. Or maybe that's just the wind coming off the coast...
Greyfriars Kirkyard is rumored to be one of the most haunted spots in Edinburgh. Don't be fooled by the dog grave* in the front of the church—that's the only story you'll want to tell your kids about this Kirkyard if you want them to sleep at night.
(By the way, the term "Kirkyard" is Scottish for "churchyard".
The most famous resident of this Kirkyard is Lord Advocate to Charles II, Sir George Mackenzie or "Bluidy Mackenzie", as he was nicknamed for imprisoning hundreds of Presbyterian Covenanters in a small field beside the Kirkyard in 1679 during the middle of winter. Most of these people died of maltreatment while others were executed. This era in history is called the Killing Time.
The "Covenanter's Prison" is gated and locked up just about 20 feet from the huge mausoleum where Mackenzie is buried. (How messed up is that?)
Here's what I've heard and read about the Mackenzie poltergeist. It started in 1999 when a homeless man snuck into his mausoleum and fell through the floor. After this disruption, people on night tours in the Kirkyard began reporting scratches and bruises from his poltergeist.
Apparently in 2002 a priest came to perform an exorcism in the Kirkyard and was overwhelmed by the tormented souls and evil spirits, so he left for fear of his own life. The priest died of a sudden heart attack weeks later.
In 2004, two cheeky teens broke into the mausoleum and stole a skull. One article said they used the skull as a hand puppet, another article said they were kicking it around, but either way, that's definitely a way to piss of some spirits.
I just went to the mausoleum this afternoon and tried to poke my head in through the doors to see if there was a hole in the ground. I felt a heaviness in my body as I checked and I guarantee I was psyching myself out but I've got to say, I'm on the fence with whether or not I believe in spirits. I believe enough to worry I could piss off something by being nosy but I don't believe in the afterlife.
What do you guys believe?
Is it all bullshit?
Haunted or not, I love this Kirkyard. I am drawn to it every time I walk past it. It's like stepping into another time and feeling completely isolated from the outside world as the Edinburgh castle hovers above you.
It is a must-see whether you're visiting Edinburgh or you live here. Just go... At your own risk! (Just kidding.)
*About Greyfriars Bobby, which may or may not be a complete hoax... Wouldn't you bury the dog beside it's owner's grave?! Nope. John Gray's grave is about thirty steps away! The dog spent every day on his grave and then they go and bury him nowhere near the guy? Very strange.
Here are some photos of Old Town (except the Mound photo). Click to scroll through.