Take a tour in Ediburgh’s graveyard

Take a tour in Ediburgh’s graveyard

[June 2021] The next day of our stay in Edinburgh, Scotland, we took a graveyard tour at night.

The name of the tour company which runs this walking tour was “City of the Dead”, and the participation fee was £ 14  per person.

meeting place of the participants of the graveyard tour
at the tree next to St. Giles Cathedral

Of the many tours, we chose this because our guidebook described it as “probably the scariest of Edinburgh’s ghost tours.”

The destination, the historical graveyard called the Greyfriars Kirkyard itself seemed to be a famous place, so I thought we can kill two birds with one stone.

By the way, Kirk in Kirkyard is a Scottish word for church.

The tour started at 9 pm.

The sunset on this day is 9:50, so it was still bright.

Graveyard tour went around the Greyfriars Kirkyard
200000 – 300000 people are buried here

A tree beside St Giles’ Cathedral on the main street of the Old Town, Royal Mile, was the meeting place for 18 tour participants.

The guide was a slender, bearded man wearing a black leather coat that looked like second-hand clothes, and his name was Gran.

At first glance, he looked like a homeless person.

This may also be an effect, though.

We entered the site of Greyfriars Kirkyard, located south of the Royal Mile, and he started by explaining the graveyard itself.

Not only celebrities but also criminals who were publicly executed at the nearby Grassmarket are buried in the graveyard, and there are about 500 remaining gravestones.

John Porteous's tombstone
John Porteous was lynched to death

It is said that the number of people buried is 200,000 to 300,000, and everywhere on the ground where we stood, if we dug about 180 cm, we would hit a corpse.

It is certain that the Poltergeist phenomenon have had occurred in this graveyard, and when the local government tried to close a part of it, because too many people came to try to experience that, Gran’s boss negotiated and got permission to enter the part in the form of guiding tour in the orderly way.

The tombstones in the graveyard were quite gorgeous, but Gran stopped in front of a small tombstone and started explaining about it.

He explained the background in detail, but the summary was that a city guard named John Porteous in the early 18th century was sentenced to death for firing on a civil riot, but in the end he died due to a fierce lynching of the citizens.

walking around the Greyfriars Kirkyard with the graveyard tour
there were many gorgeous tombstones

It was the grave of the guard.

What was more interesting than that story was that two hooligans approached Gran at that moment and began to say something to him.

I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but Gran seemed to have felt a danger and he started calling the police.

When he started talking to the police, the hooligans left, but Gran seemed really scared and looked back to make sure no one was there.

I’ve come across a scene where a walking tour guide drove away a hooligan before, and I wonder if it is a common thing?

the graveyard tour took us to the locked "Covenanter's Prison"
we entered “The Covenanter’s Prison” here

Then, we moved on to the part where the local government locked and Gran opened the lock for us to enter there.

This part is called “The Covenanter’s Prison”, where about 400 people were imprisoned when people called Covenanters who supported the Presbyterian Church were suppressed in the latter half of the 17th century.

It wasn’t a graveyard at that time, but many of the people who were forced into this space died in the cold weather.

In the 18th century, it merged with the graveyard, and vaults were lined up on the elongate site.

Gran put us in one of the vaults, lit candles, and showed off the story of the tomb of the lawyer George McKenzie being grave robbed.

"The Covenanter's Prison" where graveyard tour took us
“The Covenanter’s Prison” was narrow and long

It was a frightening story, but I did not feel scary.

After all, I was desperate to understand his Scottish accent in English.

One child, about 10 years old, was participating in this tour, and he was a clever child, and he responded very well to what Gran said, and he helped to make the tour more exciting.

Perhaps it was when we got out of the “The Covenanter’s Prison” and actually stood in front of McKenzie’s grave, this kid was frozen looking in the wrong direction.

the tour guide of the graveyard tour
Gran explaining in front of McKenzie’s grave

I was scared the most when I saw that.

What on earth did this child see …

The tour ended after 10:30 pm.

Still, it wasn’t as dark as pitch black.