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I Aint Afraid Of No Ghost!
City of The Dead Tour (Edinburgh)
Member Name: wigglylittleworm
City of The Dead Tour (Edinburgh)
Advantages: Highly entertaining
The tour is run by Black Hart entertainment who run walking tours all over the UK. They were set up by Jan-Andrew Henderson, a historian who also wrote the book The Ghost That Haunted itself which sparked Mr Wigglylittleworms interest.
We walked up to the wonderful St Giles Cathedral on the Royal Mile to join the tour and were met by our tour guide. There were around 15 people on the tour that night, mostly tourists.
The tour starts outside the cathedral with the guide telling you stories about Edinburghs murky past. She told us a particularly gruesome account of a witchcraft trial and how a whole family were killed. She also told us some of the history of the cathedral and spooked us out a bit by telling us that the car park we were standing on was a graveyeard until the council decided to tarmac it over and that the ghosts were not happy about their bodies being moved.
The tour then moved to Greyfriars kirkyard, around 10-15 minutes walk away. This is a lovely ancient graveyard, I've enjoyed visiting it during the day and reading all the old gravestones. It is, of course, also the setting of the story Greyfriars Bobby.
It's at this point that the tour guide collected the admission fees for the tour (£8.50 for adults, £6.50 for concessions) and locked the graveyard gates!
Once we were inside, the guide told us a bit about the history of the cemetery. I was shocked to learn that the hill we were standing on held as many as 500 000 bodies which were simply layered there during the days of the plague.
Then we were taken to a dark corner of the cemetery which I had never seen before and things got decidedly spooky. The air seemed to be even chillier here than in other parts of the graveyard. Me, the hard headed skeptic, started clinging on to my other half at this point, just because I was cold you must understand.
Then we were taken into The Covenanters Prison. This is where over 1000 Presbyterians men were imprisoned in 1679 by Bluidy (or bloody) George Mackenzie for their opposition of the Stuart kings. Many of these men perished in this open air prison. We were then taken inside a mausoleum.
Inside this small, dark room we were treated to further tales of the dark past of the prison and the men who once inhabited it. We were told of the many manifestations of the poltergeist and that they often physically assaulted the guests, indeed sexual assaults were reported to have occured. I'd heard reports of visitors being scratched and bruised during the tour. The guide did a great job of building up a spooky atmosphere. At one point I felt something brushing against my sleeve and jumped out of my skin until I realised it was the man next to me.
On the way out we were shown the famous Mackenzie mausoleum, the final resting place of Goerge Mackenzie, home of the Mackenzie poltergeist and reportedly one of the most haunted locations on the planet.
I found the tour really enjoyable. Even though I knew a bit about the history of Edinburgh, I learned a lot more that night. The tour guide was lively and entertaining and built up a great atmosphere.
I would suggest that you bring a torch so that you can see your feet when wandering around a graveyard in the pitch black. There are loads of nice little pubs in the area outside the cemetery for you to relax in afterwards. Greyfriars is also well worth a visit during the day.
Summary: Prepare to be spooked!
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