Once upon a time…The story-telling graveyard

Cold wind is blowing. The sun squints between the bald branches of the trees, seagulls are screeching and a dog is barking. A few stray visitors amble over the Greyfriars Kirk in Edin­burgh. It is considered to be one of the scariest places on earth, at least accor­ding to some American broadcasting stations. Believing in […]

Cold wind is blowing. The sun squints between the bald branches of the trees, seagulls are screeching and a dog is barking. A few stray visitors amble over the Greyfriars Kirk in Edin­burgh. It is considered to be one of the scariest places on earth, at least accor­ding to some American broadcasting stations. Believing in spirits or not: the graveyard appears to be a place with a story to tell.

Located at the southern edge of the Old Town, many notable Edin­burgh residents have been buried here since the 16th century. One of the most famous ones is the judge George Mackenzie who found his final rest in the Black Mausoleum in 1691. Since a vagrant tried to break into this tomb to get shelter, Mackenzie’s “Poltergeist” is said to haunt between the graves. So more than 500 unexplained incidents have been reported during the last 5 years. As even an exorcist was unable to dis­pel the supernatural forces, a new pad­lock on the Mausoleum’s door should guarantee the curious tourists’ safety. Fearless ghost- busters could however take part in the “City of the Dead Ghost Tour”, which is today the only chan­ce to access this spooky part of Edin­burgh. And if you are open minded to paranormal phenomena the tour will really present what it calls the “weir­dest history with the wildest stories and wickedest humour”.

For some locals this is “typical tra­veller stuff like Nessie”: The barten­ders in “Greyfriar Bobby’s Bar” next to the graveyard for example just shake their heads about visitors, taking pic­tures of old dirty tomb­stones as seriously as if they were the Royal in­signia as well as placing airplane-tickets, cuddly toys and fresh flowers on the grave of a Skye Terrier every day. According to an Edinburgh legend, this brave dog Bobby spent 14 years guarding the grave of his owner John Gray un­til he died himself. To keep the legend alive, the Dog Aid So­ciety of Scotland erected a red granite stone on Bobby’s grave and a life-size statue of him was built in front of the Bar dedicated to him. The monument is Edinburgh’s smallest listed building. That sounds indeed like the perfect…

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Text and photo by Edinburgh team March 2011

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