Sunday, 16 September 2012
Edinburgh 's Ghosts,Murderers and Alleys
Along the Royal mile are many closes and wynds, little narrow streets that lead north and south, well known for their ghostly tales . Some of the lanes lead to underground cellars,rooms and workshops in the once most densely occupied area of Edinburgh.The most famous is Mary King's Close, preserved after tenements above were demolished to build the City Chambers above.
The residents were evicted from their homes and workshops in 1753 and the hidden lanes and homes were forgotten about until Mercat Tours reopened it as a tourist attraction. We did go round and it was extraordinary to see the little dark rooms where families and their livestock lived and worked, a maze of lanes and steps,it was easy to lose your bearings. Although I have had ghostly meetings in the past I didn't feel anything apart from feeling that some rooms were a lot colder that others , but many people do. I felt more emotional thinking of the way that many people had to live,.... what a life to be born into...One Alley that I would like to see another day is Niddry Wynd, an old Plague passage with shocking stories about each chamber, As well as a Wiccan temple, still used today it is also the home of a rather nasty entity that scratches and burns people.
Damnation alley is part of The South Bridge Vaults next to Niddry Wynd and is supposed to have an ancient curse upon it.
The Covenanter's prison inside Greyfriars Cemetery has one of the most awful stories and Edinburgh Council actually closed the area around The Black Mausoleum because of the amount of ghostly attacks on people...or were too many people celebrating Halloween ?. In the 17th century 400 prisoners were brought here from the Battle of Bothwell Bridge. They were kept mostly out in the open for five winter months being fed scraps of bread and water.The Covenanters were hung,ported abroad as slaves or were given their liberty if they signed allegiance to. the King.The prisoners who died were buried in the place reserved for criminals.
The lanes were also the backdrop for Burke and Hare,stealing bodies to order in the18th century, and Deacon Brodie, a highly respected pillar of the community by day and a burglar and murderer by night. His story inspired Robert Louis Stevenson to write Dr Jeckell and Mr Hyde....and of course bang up to date Edinburgh also inspired J.K.Rowling to write Harry Potter !