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My Own Back Yard

Edinburgh – A magical guide

Welcome back to our Edinburgh series with a spellbinding guide to the magical side of this fantastic capital city. Edinburgh is marked as one of the most haunted places in the world. So where can we find these beasties, ghouls and ghosts? Magical display of Borgin & Burke

The Faraway Bug grabbed a torch before heading out to explore..

Edinburgh certainly has its fair share of alleyways and graveyards for those seeking the supernatural. The South Bridge vaults and Niddry Street are known for the high level of paranormal activity that visitors experience there, with some being pushed, having their hair pulled or hit by mystery items. It is thought to be the hunting ground of notorious body-snatchers Burke & Hare who lurked around the many underhand businesses in residence. The Banshee’s Labyrinth pub is also located by the vaults and drinkers have seen drinks fly off of tables, seen shadows move and heard footsteps in the night. Corner of Niddry street and Cowgate

Visiting The Mary Kings Close provides another viewpoint of the city. Poor residents lived in the underground tunnels and illness and crime were rife throughout. When plague arrived, many of the ill were locked into their homes and left for dead. With so many tales of these unsavoury acts, the underground city makes an intriguing location for ghost hunting.

Back in the open air, don’t be surprised to hear ghostly piping or drums echoing from the Castle above as you head to Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, the resting place of many prominent Scottish figures and the lovely Greyfriar’s Bobby. The Convenanter’s prison is where the shadowy figure thought to be that of George Mackenzie has been seen wandering the area. Mackenzie headed the hunt for the Convenanter’s with many locked up and later buried here. After a graverobber broke into George’s grave, ghostly activity increased in the graveyard earning the Mackenzie Poltergeist his name.

But that is not all there is to find in Greyfriar’s Kirkyard. Fans of Harry Potter will be thrilled to know that some of the graves here provided the inspiration for character names. William Mcgonagall, otherwise known as the worst poet in Scotland is said to be the inspiration for the likeable professor. Elizabeth Thomas Riddell graveMoodie is thought to The Elephant cafehave helped name Mad-Eye Moodie as JK Rowling liked it so much and let’s not 

forget Thomas Riddell who obviously is the name for ‘you know who’. Behind the Kirkyard is George Heriot’s school which some claim to be the real Hogwarts.     

Many cafes link themselves to JK Rowling and the writing of her famous books so take a look if you come across one on your travels. The Elephant cafe labels itself as the birthplace of Harry Potter, (I liked it for its quirkiness alone) and can be found around the corner from the Kirkyard.

Edinburgh also has a range of stores selling Harry Potter items and it was endearing to see many visitors excitedly wandering around the city with Gryffindor scarves on. Should you have limited shopping time the row of sci-fi shops on South Bridge is your pit stop to all things sci-fi and fantasy related. Possibly the best shopping street I have ever seen!

Head along the Golden Mile towards the castle and you will find The Witchery, a hotel and restaurant with beautiful decor and delicious food. Close by is the Witches’ water well, a symbolic piece to remind us of all those who were persecuted on the accusation of witchcraft.

If witches are not your thing, another freakishly fun eatery exists in the form of the Frankenstein Beerhouse located on George IV Bridge.

For a country that has the honourable unicorn as its national animal, Scotland is a place open to the possibilities of the supernatural and Edinburgh is no exception. As if I need to have an additional reason to love this place. It’s magic.  

There are many ghost tours to be found in Edinburgh. The ones below are just a few of those recommended to me:

Haunted tours – ghost bus.

Tours of the underground city, graveyard tours including special access to the covenanter’s prison.

If you like this piece and want to find more online, try searching for:Museum of context shop

Thomas Weir / William Brodie  

The ghosts at the White Hart Inn

Greyfriar’s Bobby

The great Lafayette

You can also read about Edinburgh from another view…

Edinburgh – A historical guide

Edinburgh – A royal guide

And the upcoming Edinburgh – A literary view


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