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ABOVE: The tour begins next to the High Kirk of St. Giles. INSET BELOW: Rebecca, our guide, and the tomb of "Bloody Mackenzie" in Greyfriars Churchyard (taken in daylight when the poltergeist was asleep).

City of the Dead Haunted Graveyard Tour


Entertainment occupies center stage in the City of the Dead Haunted Graveyard Tour, which has several evening departures throughout the year. The 1-hour tour combines equal measures of history, horror, and humor, and Rebecca--the guide on my tour--was a trained performer with a great knack for setting a creepy mood. ("A hundred and eighty-eight people have collapsed on this tour, including three people since I became a guide several months ago. If you start to feel faint, please tell me immediately...")

The tour begins with stories about Edinburgh's medieval tenements, witch-burnings, executions, graverobbing, and murders. You'll wind your way down narrow streets and passageways--possibly seeing a rat scurrying toward a pub, as our group did--until you reach Greyfriars Kirk, where you'll cross the graveyard in the dark (being careful not to trip on uneven ground or bones that may be sticking up through the grass).

photoAlong the way, the guide will warn you about the Mackenzie Poltergeist, which is said to have attacked many visitors in the churchyard and especially in Covenanters' Prison, a locked area that you can visit only with the tour.

You'll spend the final portion of the tour in an empty tomb, where the tension was so palpable during my visit that several tourists used their cellular telephones as flashlights to break the darkness. (In the dim glow of their phones, one could see that the group had unconsciously drawn together and away from the walls of the tomb.)

The meeting point for the City of the Dead Graveyard Tour is alongside the High Kirk of St. Giles on the Royal Mile.

The same company runs two other excursions:

The Secret City Tour, for children and their parents. The 1-hour tour was designed by Jan-Andrew Henderson, an author of Scottish history books and novels for children. It departs from the Old Town Information Center at the Tron Kirk.

The Secret Scotland History Walk, an evening stroll through the "wynds and closes of Edinburgh's Old Town."

For more information on all three tours, visit

Next page: Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour

In this article:
Mercat Tours (history and ghost tours)
City of the Dead Haunted Graveyard Tour
Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour
Other walking tours in Edinburgh

Related article:
Edinburgh Bus Tours

More about Edinburgh:
Edinburgh home page at Europe for Visitors

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