‘When the world is wrapped in slumber and the moon is sailing high if you peep between the curtains you’ll see witches riding by.’
Yes, the long awaited holiday is here and All Hallow’s Eve is upon us. Wether you’re staying in for the night or heading out to party be sure to take this last spooky story with you.
Today we end our long descent into the sodden past of ancient Edinburgh by delving deep in to the vaults. A place where murder, satanic rituals, indecent behaviour and plague were all too common. The underground city of Edinburgh is something that most passers by still lie blissfully un-aware of, how could you know that theres a labyrinth of wynds and closes just under your feet? Historically, most of the vaults were open to the sky, back when Edinburgh housed 14 story ‘skyscrapers’ but when people began raising the ground level to support the ever expanding city, what was once the bustling streets of Auld Reekie became hidden away and occupied by the lowest classes of society. The vaults therefore became a place of crime and misfortune.
The vaults originally housed many businesses in the 1700’s however as these began to move to more profitable areas of town the vaults became dwellings for the poor and homeless. As most of the people living down here were outcasts of society and the lowest of the low they were often preyed on as no one would notice if they disappeared. Murder was common, as was prostitution, robbery and body snatching. As well as taking victims from the vaults the infamous Burke and Hare also stored bodies down there between transportation. It says a lot about a place when people don’t notice a rotting body just a few feet from where they were living. However the vaults were sealed in the 1800’s as residents were found to be harbouring and spreading (through no knowledge of their own) the plague. Although some people believe they were sealed to hide some kind of darker secret.
In the 1980’s the vaults were re-discovered by a Scottish rugby player who knocked through a wall into a hidden street when renovating his pub in South Bridge and from there on the vaults have been shrouded with mystery and became something of a tourist hotspot. The main paranormal attraction in Edinburgh is Mary Kings Close, located just off the Royal Mile this 16th century street was said to have been sealed up with victims of the plague inside, left to starve and rot to keep the disease contained. The close was re opened in the 18th century due to overcrowding and the new residents were documented to experience some strange (and downright terrifying phenomena) Families were tormented by apparitions of a ‘demon dog’ with red glowing eyes, headless animals, severed limbs and even the ghost of a young girl. The most famous apparition seen in this area though is that of ‘Mr Boots’ so named as people see his legs with tall riding boots descending staircases in the close and he sometimes stands watch over the passing tours. People have reported hearing the heavy shuffling of boots or even felt someone breathing down their neck.
Although Mary Kings Close claims to hold presidency over Edinburgh’s paranormal scene I believe that the South Bridge vaults are much more bone chilling. As Edinburgh was once the witch hunting capital of the world you can imagine that these people had to find somewhere rather secluded to practice their dark magic. There are a few rooms in the South Bridge vaults that these practices were executed, one of which still holds a stone circle used in the seances. It is said that this room holds the dark entity of a man who killed 16 prostitutes and people who enter the circle report being scratched, bitten, feeling nauseous or even faint.
As well as the ‘demon’ in the circle and Mr Boots the vaults are also supposedly home to a wide array of spirits. ‘The Aristocrat’ is a tall man with a beard and top hat who grins at passing tours, although not a particularly negative spirit he is said to be quite a sinister sight. ‘The Cobbler’ is also said to be a kind spirit who is seen wearing a leather apron and a white shirt and smiles at visitors. However that is about about as much ‘good’ as you will find down there…
Will you dare to venture down into the vaults at night? and have you ever experienced the spirits of old Edinburgh? Let me know down below and don’t forget to subscribe or follow me on social media for an update on how my Halloween vault tour goes! Thanks for reading and watch out for things going bump in the night.