Located on Candlemaker Row, in the heart of old Edinburgh, and close to the famous castle is Greyfriars Kirkyard. This burial ground is best known for the memorial to Greyfriars Bobby, the Skye terrier who famously guarded the grave of his deceased master John Gray, until his own death.
The Kirkyard dates from the 1550’s and is interesting in its own right. It contains many monuments and mausoleums engraved with symbols of death. Skulls, skeletons, crossbones and coffins abound, and a stroll here will reveal the tombs of many notable figures, including: James Hutton, Captain John Porteous, and George Buchanan.
It is here in 1679 after the Battle of Bothwell Brig, that 1,200 Covenanters (supporters of the National Covenant) were imprisoned in what is known today as the Covenanters’ Prison, a location that has been called the worlds first concentration camp. Many of the Covenanters who didn’t die or escape were sentenced to transportation overseas, only to drown when their ship sunk during the journey.
Visitors brave enough to enter the Covenanters Prison today have reported a wide range of supernatural activity including disembodied voices, unexplained smells, and extreme cold or hot spots. The centre of these attacks appears to be the Black Mausoleum inside the Covenanters Prison.
Despite the fact that these incidents have taken place in the Covenanters Prison it is not the persecuted Covenanters who are most frequently experienced in Greyfriars, but instead, it is believed to be George Mackenzie, the one most associated with persecuting them.
It was 1667 when King Charles II appointed George ‘Bluidy’ Mackenzie to the position of Lord Advocate. He swiftly became known for the ruthless way he pursued the Covenanters, tortured them and generally caused them great suffering. Despite his actions Mackenzie largely escaped suffering in this life and upon his death in 1691 he was placed in dome-topped mausoleum close to the Covenanters prison where so many of his victims suffered as a result of his orders.
The Mackenzie Poltergeist has been known to cause physical injury and mental distress, since 1999 there have been hundreds of well documented ‘physical attacks’ in the Black Mausoleum resulting in visitors leaving with broken bones.
140 of these attacks have led to the collapse of the victim, no-one should visit Greyfriars lightly. Come if you dare and be ready for an encounter like no other. The Mackenzie Poltergeist has been called the “best documented supernatural case of all time”. What is really going on in Greyfriars Kirkyard, no-one can say for certain, but an visit here will not be quickly forgotten.