Are you afraid of the dark? Edinburgh has a colourful and gruesome past and is home to some of the most haunted places in the world. The ancient, narrow streets of the city’s old town provide the perfect setting for some of the haunted stories and tours around the city.
There’s nothing like a good chilling tale, and Edinburgh is filled with frightful ones that will make you want to read them with the lights turned on.
[Image credit: City of the Dead Tour Facebook]
Greyfriar's Kirkyard is a fitting setting for the odd ghost story or two. Located in the Old Town, it is steeped in history, with many religious persecutions being carried out here in the 17th century. The Black Mausoleum which can be seen in the kirkyard is the final resting place of Sir George Mackenzie, a former Lord Advocate. It is here that there have been more than 500 recorded incidents of the poltergeist attacking people since it was disturbed by a homeless man looking for shelter. Today there are tours are take you to the kirkyard such as the City of Dead tours, so head along and take a look - if you are brave enough.
Burke and Hare
[Image credit: The Burke and Hare Murder Tour Facebook]
Between 1827 1829, Edinburgh was home the two most famous body snatchers, William Burke and William Hare. During this time the need for corpses grew to meet with anatomy and physiognomy research taking place in Edinburgh at the time. In order to meet the demand, the black market of body snatchers had a roaring trade buying and selling stolen human bodies. This provided the perfect platform for friends Burke and Hare to sell their 16 victim corpses to Doctor Robert Knox at the University of Edinburgh for use towards his anatomy lectures. However the crimes soon caught up with them in 1889 when Burke was executed following Hare’s confession evidence against him. Today Edinburgh hosts many tours around the West Port area which looks into their gruesome story in further detail.
The Real Mary Kings Close
[Image credit: The Real Mary King's Close Facebook]
2 Warriston's Close, High St, Edinburgh EH1 1PG (website)
Open 10am until 9pm (summer) or 5pm (winter)
Adults: £14.50, Child: £8.75, Student or over 60: £12.75
Explore Edinburgh life before the 1800's at one of the city’s famous underground close with the Real Mary Kings Close Tours, the ancient alleys that run beneath the Royal Mile. The tours last for one hour and are suitable for all the family to enjoy with the guides acting out characters from the 1600s full of facts and stories. One of the tour’s most haunted stories is the one of a little girl called ‘Annie’ who died of the plague and now guards one of the rooms in the underground close. Today tour guests entering the room are encouraged to bring a toy gift for little Annie.
The Edinburgh Dungeons
31 Market St, Edinburgh EH1 1DF (website)
Opening times vary
Adults: from £11.75, Child: From £9.95 (save money when you buy online)
Fear can be a funny thing. Get up close and personal with Edinburgh's grizzly past at the Edinburgh Dungeons. This tour consists of 11 unique shows featuring state of the art special effects and talent actors who really bring Edinburgh's horrifying history to life. Be put on trial for your crimes in the Old Town courtroom, learn the tricks of the trade from the sadistic torturer and try to escape the cannibal clutches of Sawny Bean and his family. Get through the journey unscathed and you will be rewarded with a turn on the Drop Dead Ride, where you'll learn exactly what it is like to be hung for your sins in front of the crowds of the Grassmarket.
The Blair Street Vaults
Mercat House, 28 Blair St, Edinburgh EH1 1QR (website)
To uncover Edinburgh's deepest darkest secrets, you'll need to head underground. You can explore the Blair Street Vaults with Mercat Tours, whose expert guides will tell you chilling tales guaranteed to spook you down to the bone. Make sure to stay close to your group and be aware of any figures lurking in the shadows...