Epiphany {new age/spirituality}

Ghosts And Ghoulies

March 13, 2007

Warning: some graphic descriptions of torture and death….

Apologies for yet another ethereal subject but I have just been to Edinburgh and wanted to recommend the ‘Ghosts and Ghouls’ tour which takes place in the underground vaults. There are various other tours on offer ie: ‘City Of The Dead’ (which I will reserve for my next visit) but we decided to chose the offering at Mercat Tours. Be warned though, if you are an englishman, you are likely to be humiliated infront of the laughing crowd or ‘cheering mob’ as we were dubbed.

Our guide was a charming gentleman called John, who wore a black vampiric cloak and carried a lit candle. We began the tour near the cathedral and heard the tale of how two englishmen toasting the new king in a Scottish tavern were stripped naked in the public square and beaten with a cat ‘o’ nine tales. He who had yelled, “Hail, the new king,” had his mouth slit from ear to ear and his tongue crushed until it turned black and the other who had rejoiced with “Hear, hear!” was nailed to the monument wall by his ear lobe and then ripped away from it. The punishment usually fit the crime in medieval times.

There were so many deaths from plagues and disease, the hordes of bodies were burried at 6 feet under until the plot was full, then 4ft, then 2ft and when it rained in Edinburgh all the coffins were displaced. It was rather a disturbing thought as the hundreds of graves were allegedly below our feet. As we progressed into the underground vaults, we were told of ‘The Watcher’ a malevolent spirit who generally resides above the doorway and how there had been a partial possession in this tomb. A man felt like he was being hung and the next day woke with a rope burn mark around his neck. Slept in his tie perhaps? Someone was breathing on the back of my neck throughout but I assume it was the tall Scottish chap with the bushy beard.

We travelled through candlelit passageways with dark crooks and crannies to the right and left, suitable abodes for resident ghosts. I tried desperately not to look too closely into the shadows, just incase I saw something surreal. Agreed, I am a coward but we are talking about the girl who ran through the ‘Haunted House’ at Alton Towers. In the next room, I felt strangely relieved, comforted by the candles and was suprised to discover it was known as the ‘safe room.’ A cobbler sat in the corner protecting everyone in it, including a young boy who had curly blonde hair and the appearance of ‘Little Lord Fauntleroy.’ He often appears infront of and is seen by young children because they don’t have the same prejudices and scepticism as adults, we are told. Occasionally he holds the hand of a maternal female because he misses his mother. So if you feel an icy hand, it may be chilly ‘Willy’……

Yet another room, after passing a section of catacombs and we are told the story of one of their tour guides. Everytime she reached a certain archway, all the lights mysteriously went out. When she left the room to lead the frightened children to safety, all the lights mysteriously came on again. Okay, faulty wiring, temperimental power cut perhaps? So she went to fetch a torch, only to encounter the same problem. Functioning normally in the outside world, failing miserably in the underground vaults. However, it just so happened there were 27 American boy scouts in her tour group and their motto being ‘Be Prepared,’ they each had small torches on them. Not one of them worked that particular night.

In a cavity the size of a small cave, there was one last tale in which John built up the suspense with whispering and heavy breathing, only to shout and lurch at the end. The result of which was me screaming the loudest with a look of sheer terror on my face and making everyone laugh. I suppose it may have relieved some of the built-up tension, despite being rather embarrassing. And then we ascended back towards daylight, where we were greeted by articles about the various visits of mediums and the filming of ‘Most Haunted,’ and several photographs featuring orbs and other unexplained phenomena.

So if you are ever in Edinburgh, I’d definitely recommend experiencing one of the underground tours, and if you fancy a tipple, visit ‘The King’s Wark’ pub. There is a ghost in their cellar called Billy, who was locked in by the king’s soldiers for overhearing their conversation and died of dehydration. Every monday, they leave him a glass of water, which mysteriously evaporates into thin air but if they forget, keys and other miscellaneous items start getting misplaced. Ask the bartenders, they’ll tell you all about it….

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  1. I’ve heard very enthusiastic – and somewhat terrified – reports of these tours before. Edinburgh seems to be seriously spooky. And you didn’t even mention about the underground streets in which victims of the plague were apparently bricked up alive – I bet that would have been an issue in the local elections.

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