When you hear the word Scotland, bagpipes usually come into your mind. But there’s more to Scotland than just bagpipes especially Edinburgh.
Edinburgh is the center of education specifically in the fields of medicine, law, literature, sciences, and engineering. It is also known for the Edinburgh International Festival as well as Edinburgh Castle, one of the famous landmarks in the city that dominates the city’s skyline.
It is also home to the ghostly Mary King’s Close, an underground maze of streets and places where people once lived.
Mary King’s Close. (Link: http://www.edinburghspotlight.com/2015/04/the-real-mary-kings-close/)
History Of Mary King’s Close
A sign showing where Mary King’s Close is. (Link: https://www.tripadvisor.com.au/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g186525-i17611997-Edinburgh_Scotland.html)
Mary King’s Close was named after a person named Mary King, who is a merchant burgess who resided on the Close sometime in the 17th century. Accordingly, during that time, Closes were named after prominent people. Mary King was a fabric merchant and was able to set up her business even after her husband’s death. That was something impressive during the 17th century thus the Close being named after her.
In the past, the Close was as busy as a bee because it was a trading area wherein the tradesmen of Edinburgh resided and worked. Mary King’s Close had to be built underground because Edinburgh’s city officials built walls in order to protect its citizens. Because they could not expand sideways and help solve the problem of overcrowding, the only way to resolve the matter is to go underground.
From there, the buildings rose as high as eight floors. The richest lived on the top most levels while the poorest lived on the lower part of the buildings. Those who lived on the lowest floors had no source of sunlight and lived basically beside the open sewers.
One of the rooms at Mary King’s Close. (Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zplShnT18Dk)
Sometime in the 17th century, a part of Mary King’s Close had to be demolished. Despite being advised to flee the area, some residents continued to live there. Those who lived their continued their businesses and that’s where most people got their wigs made or bought their tobacco.
In 1645, Mary King’s Close had to be closed down and was abandoned because of an outbreak of a plague. Those who were infected, however, stayed behind the Close because they had to be isolated. Accordingly, between a fifth and a half of the population died from being left behind after the plague broke. Because of this, Mary King’s Close has been a tourist attraction because of the legends, myths, and ghostly stories about the things that took place in the area.
By 1902, Mary King’s Close was totally abandoned and was closed to the public. It was only opened in 2003. Today, Mary King’s Close is under the busy streets of Edinburg’s Royal Mile and is being offered to the public for ghostly tours.
The First Reports Of Paranormal Happenings At Mary King’s Close
During the 17th century, there were already reports of hauntings at the Mary King’s Close. However, come countered the supposed haunted Close based on science. Accordingly, the Close was near the Nor Loch, which was polluted. The biogas that escaped into the close created the eerie ambiance of the Close and that the biogas reportedly caused hallucinations.
Some, however, continued to believe that the Mary King’s Close was haunted. Some of the reports during the 17th century about the paranormal happenings at the Close were told by the Coltheart family. They claimed that they moved in after the outbreak of the plague and that’s when they started seeing things such as ghostly figures, disembodied limbs, and vivid nightmares.
One of the streets at Mary King’s Close. (Link: https://www.pinterest.ph/pin/342273640421455961/?lp=true)
The Ghosts At Mary King’s Close
The most common ghostly figures at Mary King’s Close include a woman in black and floating heads. Another famous girl is a woman named Annie.
Starting off with Annie, a Japanese psychic claimed that she met and talked with Annie. Annie reportedly told her that her parents left her because she was infected with the plague. Because of her loneliness, she just wanted one thing – a doll. Since then, many thrill seekers who visit Mary King’s Close bring dolls for this little girl ghost, Annie. One room is said to be where Annie lived and it has since been dubbed as “Annie’s Room.” When you get to visit Mary King’s Close, you will see the room full of stuffed toys, dolls, and more gifts from visitors.
A photo showing some of the gifts left for Annie at Mary King’s Close. (Link: https://katedaviesdesigns.com/2014/02/26/goodbye-dolly/)
As for the woman in black, she is also dubbed as a worried woman. As for the floating heads, they reportedly belong to the victims of the plague.
Other guests and staff have reported hearing noises like scratching and footsteps. Stones have also been reportedly thrown while tours are ongoing.
Mary King’s Close Featured On Many Ghost-Related Shows
Because of the popularity of Mary King’s Close, it has been featured in a lot of ghost-related TV shows. Here are some of them:
Billy Connolly’s World Tour of Scotland – 1994
Most Haunted – 2004 and 2006
Blue Peter – 2007
Cities of the Underworld – 2007
Ian Rankin’s Hidden Edinburgh – 2007
Mystery Hunters – 2007
How Edinburgh Was Built – 2008
Ghost Hunters International – 2008
The Five Thirty Show – 2008
Relentless – 2008
Ghosthunting with Louis Walsh and Boyzone – 2009
Into the Night with Alan Cumming and Ian Rankin – 2009
In Search of Burke and Hare – 2010