With its long history of bloodthirsty monarchs, grisly grave-robbers and political upheaval, it's no surprise that Edinburgh is regularly named as one of the UK’s most haunted locations. Whether you’re a paranormal enthusiast or a non-believer, try some of these haunts and see if you spot anything that goes bump in the night...
The Banshee Labyrinth
Partially located within some of the city’s many underground vaults, the Banshee Labyrinth describes itself as Scotland’s most haunted pub. It is reportedly occupied by a banshee – a group of workmen once heard a bloodcurdling scream and a few hours later one of them received a call about the death of a family member. There are also said to be occurrences of drinks flying off tables and smashing into walls.
The White Hart Inn, Grassmarket
It’s claimed to be central Edinburgh’s oldest pub (parts of the building date back to 1516) and with almost 500 years of history, it’s no surprise it’s gained some ghostly tales. Stories of shadowy forms, unexplained bangs and slamming doors led to it being named most haunted pub in 2005.
First designated as a graveyard by Mary Queen of Scots in 1562, Greyfriars Kirkyard is the final resting place of a number of notable Edinburgh residents including poets, historians, architects and inventors (not forgetting the famous Greyfriars Bobby). But in recent years it’s gained a reputation for being haunted by a poltergeist, with some visitors leaving with bruises, scratches and cuts. The hauntings are said to have started in the late 1990s when a homeless man broke into the tomb of Sir George Mackenzie, who led the persecution of the Covenanters in the 17th century.
A number of ghost tours take place in the city’s underground vaults and there have been a variety of reports of paranormal activity. TV show Most Haunted hosted a live investigation in the vaults in 2006, and according to some reports Burke and Hare stored the bodies of their victims in the site before selling them to the medical school.
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The Scotsman Hotel
Even the five-star Scotsman Hotel is said to have some ghosts. The Edwardian building was formerly the offices of the Edinburgh Evening News and is reputedly the home of a phantom printer. By which we mean a person who did the printing, not some possessed Laserjet.
It has a history dating back more than 2,000 years and has been the site of numerous battles and sieges so it’s no wonder there are reports of ghostly goings on at the city’s most iconic landmark. The sound of drums, unexplained knocking sounds and mysterious orbs have all been reported. In 2001, a team of scientists carried out an investigation into the paranormal experiences at the castle as part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival and said the results appeared to support the stories.
Find more things to do in Edinburgh with Time Out.