See more with the Edinburgh Pass - the essential sightseeing pass for visitors to Edinburgh. With 2 ... More
|Glasgow's Free Attractions|
|Top Scottish Scenic Views|
|View All Top Tips Lists|
If nothing tickles your fancy more than a good dose of goose-pimples, then Edinburgh is just the place for you. Nowhere else can you find such a dense concentration of ghosts and spooky goings-on. What’s more, loads of spine-chilling character once roamed these very streets, striking terror into innocent folks’ hearts – and you can take up the chase! Lose all track of time in the maze of beguiling and bewitching narrow alleys in the Old Town – wynds and closes – and you’ll appreciate why Edinburgh inspired J.K. Rowling to write the first Harry Potter novels in this very spot.
Assuming inspiration flows from the right surroundings, J.K. Rowling was destined to succeed from the outset. Edinburgh’s often supernatural and mystical atmosphere was the ideal ground for her books – the first novels about the sorcerer’s apprentice, Harry Potter, were scribbled in a café on Nicolson Street. Give free rein to your curiosity in the Old Town’s many narrow alleys, known locally as wynds and closes. The ideal backdrop for ghostly goings-on. But this more or less holds true for the entire city – the bagpipe-playing spectre below the Royal Mile, the invisible piano player in Charlotte Square, the ashen-faced man with the red hat in Jamaica Street and the lady in grey in Ann Street are just a few of the many spirits that await you. And when the Scottish parliament is in session in the newly erected building at the bottom of the Royal Mile, it can definitely expect some disruption – for at the heart of the complex lies Queensberry Lodge, and, yes, it’s haunted. Back when the house was a hospital, a lady was often reported sitting by a sickbed, weeping profusely. Ghostbusters have more than a good chance of meeting their nemesis at Edinburgh Castle. It’s the most haunted place in Edinburgh, rumoured to be the home of the headless drummer, among others.
The city is full of spine-chilling, historically authenticated stories. Messrs. Burke and Hare, who “supplied” bodies to anatomy students in the early 1800s, are just one example. Demand couldn’t have been better. Others went to the trouble of digging up bodies from the cemetery, but Burke and Hare came up with a more expedient method – they suffocated at least 16 of their tavern’s patrons. Or there’s Deacon Brodie – respected pillar of the community by day, ruthless burglar and murderer by night. He was hanged in 1788 and his evil deeds inspired Robert Louis Stevenson to write Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The murder of Mary Queen of Scots’ alleged lover, David Rizzio, by her husband, Lord Darnley, also remains cloaked in mystery. For centuries, despite numerous attempts to remove the bloodstains, they incessantly reappeared.
Book any of the guided ghost tours and you are bound to come face-to-face with some legendary ghouls. Fancy an eyeball encounter with the Mad Monk of the Cowgate, whining witches, or muggers and highwaymen executed centuries ago? These and their ilk will happily test your mettle. Many companies specialise in such tours including Mercat Tours, The Cadies & Witchery Tours, Auld Reekie Tours, Haunting Breaks and Black Hart. Descending below Edinburgh’s historic cobbled pavements is another must-have, spine-chilling experience. Mary King’s Close is a 17th century alley way beneath the City Chambers. Here, you’ll hear a girl crying for her doll and feel the unearthly presence of ghosts. The Edinburgh Dungeon offers a similar hair-raising experience with a tentative foray into Edinburgh’s dark side. However, since the stomach-churning events are always presented with a good dose of humour, that creepy feeling will soon dissipate. If you need some sustenance after all the farrowing recollections, the Witchery by the Castle is the place to head. It’s not just for superb dining – but you can also continue in the same vein… It used to be the hotbed of Scottish witchcraft, and the tables and chairs all come from churches throughout Scotland.