Renowned for being an especially haunted city, Edinburgh has many mysterious secrets lurking beneath the cobbled façade of what we wrongly assume to be ground level. Led through its dark past by an actor in the role of the long-dead James Douglas, Fourth Earl of Morton, we made our way up the Royal Mile – which is a spectacle itself under the explosive remnants of the Military Tattoo’s infamous fireworks.
A unique insight into the city’s darker past
Stopping off at the most gruesome of sites, our engaging and knowledgeable host holds no gory details back. Showing us the places of all manner of grisly happenings, we are treated to the locations where the devil has allegedly made an appearance and where thieves were tortured (by nailing their ear to a door, no less) before winding our way down the Mile’s closes on our way to the statue of Greyfriars Bobby.
Greyfriars Kirkyard is a particularly sinister location in the dark, especially when twinned with tales of Burke and Hare and repeated occasions of being buried alive. In a fascinating bit of storytelling our guide tells us of erroneous burials, in which people were merely sleeping or unconscious. In response to this bells were placed above graves, which could be rung should the deceased wake up – hence the phrase ‘saved by the bell’.
The tour culminates with a trip to the company’s exclusive underground (and apparently haunted) vaults. Used as a recording studio until the mid-1990s, when they decided the strange effects the space had on the music – such as mute drums and crackling software – were detrimental to the end product, it has since been the site of many paranormal investigations and tour visits. Even if you are a sceptic when it comes to ghouls, it was fascinating to step into this hidden world just a few feet below the surface of South Bridge. Unfortunately, no ghosts decided to make an appearance that night but it was still interesting to venture around the damp and cobbled walls, and I must admit it is not somewhere I would want to be left alone at night.
A unique insight into the city’s darker past – even if ghosts themselves cannot be guaranteed, an enjoyable night certainly can.