What comes to mind when thinking of spooky and haunted places? Flickering lights, narrow alleyways between dark medieval buildings and dubious figures creeping around in the shadows? Welcome to Edinburgh! While we don’t have many dubious figures lurking in the shadows here, we definitely have enough spots where the next best horror film could be filmed. So swing some garlic around your neck, put on your silver jewellery and maybe bring a horseshoe to fight off evil spirits when you head to the 6 spookiest places in Edinburgh. Goosebumps and hair-standing-up-on-the-back-of-your-neck experiences may occur.
Unbeknown to most visitors coming to the Edinburgh and deep beneath the outskirts of the city, lays a series of hand carved passageways and chambers – the Gilmerton Cove. It is not for certain what these hidden coves were once used for, but there are multiple theories from it being a hiding spot to a secret meeting place. The mystery of its purpose only adds to the eerie feel of the sparsely lit vaults, so don’t be surprised if you come across a ghost of one of its former inhabitants. For more information on visiting Gilmerton Cove, please see their website.
Every medieval town had a square where executions would take place. In Edinburgh this used to be the Grassmarket up until 1886. Hundreds of criminals and pronounced witches were hanged here with the gawking citizens of Edinburgh gathering to witness the gruesome moments. As you can imagine, quite a few executions were performed where the accused was actually innocent. Women who were suspected of witchcraft were often tortured with sleep deprivation and then confessed to crimes they hadn’t committed due to the resultant sleep deprivation. These innocent souls might well now haunt the area, so be aware. Explore the history of the Grassmarket as part of our Halloween Package in cooperation with Ghost Bus Tours.
The Edinburgh Playhouse does not only surprise with the fact that it is the largest theatre in the UK (by capacity), but it also has its own resident ghost. With it many hidden corners and corridors, there is plenty of space for a ghost to set up its residency. Apparently in the 1950s police was called to investigate a reported break-in to the theatre. The officers in charge then reported speaking to a gentleman dressed in grey with the name of Albert on site. However, no one called Albert used to work there… at that time at least. Since then many people have reported quite a few unusual occurrences like icy fingers on shoulders and mysterious noises in and around the Playhouse… poor Albert is getting all the blame for this.
Annie’s Room in The Real Mary King’s Close
The Mary King’s Close in itself is quite a scary place. While the busy Old Town close and its surrounding area used to be open to the skies, it is now underground. This brought about many a tale of cruel crimes, ghosts and even plague victims being walled up and left to die. One area that is a particularly spooky place, is commonly known as Annie’s room, where apparently in 1992 a Japanese psychic picked up on an intense sense of hunger, sadness and pain. She then claims to have spoken to a little girl called Annie who had fallen ill to the plague, been abandoned by her family and lost her doll. To console the ghost, the Japanese psychic went to buy a tartan barbie on the Royal Mile and brought it back to the close. Since 1992, visitors from around the world have been taking toys to Annie’s room and quite a few incidents have been reported where visitors felt a little hand grabbing them or an unexplainable sensation of cold. If you would like to see Annie’s Room and Mary King’s Close, why not book our Halloween Package this Autumn.
With its history dating back to around 850BC and having been the backdrop for many gruesome battles and torture, the castle is an obvious one for our list of spookiest places in Edinburgh. Nearly every decade of the fortresses’ past has its own ghost and reputable ghost hunters have come from wide and far to investigate unexplainable occurrences. Most of them concluded that there is at not just one but numerous paranormal activities going on. But see it for yourself and you might meet the ghost piper who was once sent down one of the vaults and never returned…
Mackenzie’s Mausoleum on Greyfriars Kirkyard
Cemetery Greyfriars Kirkyard is not only famous for the little dog Bobby who didn’t leave his masters grave until its own death, but it is also home to a poltergeist. In 1999 a homeless man sought shelter in the Mackenzie’s Mausoleum and broke through the door. It seems that this disturbed the ghost of one Edinburgh’s cruellest historical figures, George Mackenzie, who was nicknamed Bloody Mackenzie for sending a large number of Protestant Covenanters to their deaths. In the last 20 years numerous incidents have been reported surrounding the mausoleum with people getting bruised, scratched and even burnt. The stuff for nightmares!
Image by Graeme Pow on Flickr