It’s Halloween, so of course my travel tale had to come from a graveyard!
Originally the question was… which one?
I visited quite a few graveyards while in Scotland. I’ve already shared about visiting the Necropolis in Glasgow. As luck would have it, while I was hunting some information on Flodden Wall for last week’s post, I stumbled upon some information that made me choose one.
Greyfriars Kirkyard is located on Candlemaker Row in Edinburgh. This is at the southern edge of Old Town. The Kirkyard is open 24 hours a day.
After we visited the National Museum of Scotland, my aunt decided to head back to the room where we would meet up for dinner. My mother and I wanted to walk over and take some photographs of the statue of Bobby.
Have you heard the tale of Greyfriars Bobby?
He was Skye Terrier named Bobby. His owner, John Gray, was a night watchman with the Edinburgh Police Force and they walked the cobbled streets of Edinburgh together. Unfortunately, John Gray died of tuberculosis in 1858. John Gray was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard where, as the tale goes, Bobby watched over his grave, until his own death 14 years later.
This statue was erected opposite the kirkyard, in honor of his faithfulness, in November of 1873.
I knew that the Greyfriars Kirkyard was pretty well known so I decided that I would take brief stroll around it while my mother did a little shopping at some nearby stores.
The Kirk of the Greyfriars was dedicated in 1620 on the site of the Franciscan Friary (1447-1560). The Kirkyard was established by Mary Queen of Scots in 1562.
I did not take a close-up photo of Bobby’s grave, but you can see the pink granite stone in front of the couple.
Now Bobby’s tale is one of love and faithfulness.
Not so spooky of a Halloween tale.
True, but that was not the information I stumbled upon.
I stumbled upon information about this mausoleum and realized that I had a photo of said mausoleum.
The mausoleum was designed by the architect, James Smith. The domed Italianate monument was modeled on the Tempietto di San Pietro.
This grave is home to Sir George Mackenzie, who was King Charles II’s Advocate. He earned the nickname “Bloody Mackenzie” for his persecution of the Scottish Presbyterian Covenanters. Many covenanters were imprisoned in Greyfriars Kirkyard, where Mackenzie delighted in their torture. He is said to be responsible for 18,000 of his own countryman’s deaths.
In 1998, a homeless man broke into the mausoleum and disturbed the remains…
…unleashing the Mackenzie poltergeist.
Since then, there have been documents of bruising and scratches by people and exorcisms have (unsuccessfully) been carried out twice at the location.
I had no idea about the poltergeist documentation when I visited the graveyard. In fact, I took a close-up of the inscription so I could look to see who had such an ornate resting place.
I’m not disappointed that I didn’t know his tale while visiting the kirkyard!
Lest we have nightmares from that information (I’m already feeling creeped out just writing about it…probably because I started watching Stranger Things last night), I’ll take you through a little more of my walk in Greyfriars Kirkyard.
You may recognize that spire in the distance from my Doors of Edinburgh post. It belongs to The Hub which, amongst other things, houses performance space for the Edinburgh International Festival.
George Heriot’s School.
As you pass through the archway of Flodden Wall, into that section of Greyfriars Kirkyard, you will see a magnificent building looming behind.
That is George Heriot’s School. Upon his death, George Heriot left about 25,000 Pound Scots (equivalent to several tens of millions) to found a “hospital” (which was the name for a charitable school) for poor, fatherless children.
In the 1880’s it began to charge fees. Also of note, according to our bus tour, it is considered to be an elite private school. However, the foundation still does serve children of widows and widowers with full fee remission based on financial need.
Crow? Graveyard? Yes, I must have photos of that.
I thought I’d share this one to add a little humor since the perspective makes it appear that he is pecking the building.
George Heriot’s School is also thought to be the inspiration for Hogwarts School in Harry Potter.
Greyfriars Kirkyard is also home to Thomas Riddle, believed to be where the name came from in Harry Potter.
Am I Alone?
Walking around Greyfriars Kirkyard, it’s hard to not feel an eerie sense of being surrounded by the unseen.
By the end of my stroll, while the sun was sinking a little lower, I began to feel uneasy. Perhaps this place was as haunted as they say. My heart began to beat a little faster and I picked up my pace, eager to find my way to the exit.
Let your light shine!