History

In search of a good scare

So I was recently on a stag party in Edinburgh, thus why the blog has been quiet for a few days. In search of a good scare we decided to go on the Auld Reekie Edinburgh Ghost tour, more specifically the Terror Tour. This is very similar to one of their other tours but only happens at 10pm, lasts 90 minutes and is for over 18’s only. Before I tell you about the tour I will give you a little history of the Edinburgh Vaults which the tour delves into. Edinburgh was a growing community in the late 18th century and two bridges were built to facilitate the expansion,  North Bridge and South Bridge, known locally as ‘The Bridges’.

The South Bridge, built to span the Cowgate gorge between High Street and the growing Edinburgh University on the Southside, was first proposed in 1775, although work did not begin until August 1785.The vault rooms, used as storage space and workshops for the South Bridge businesses, operated as intended for a relatively short space of time. Construction of the bridge had been rushed and the surface was never sealed against water. The vaults began to flood. Abandonment of the vaults began as early as 1795. With the vaults being gradually abandoned by the businesses on the bridge, the empty rooms were adopted and adapted by new users. As the industrial revolution took hold of Britain, the Cowgate area had developed into Edinburgh’s slum. Slum dwellers took over the vaults and they became a renowned red light district with countless brothels and pubs operating within the abandoned complex. The vaults also served as additional slum housing for the lowest of the low. Living conditions were appalling, cramped, dark and damp. With no access sunlight, poorly circulated air, no clean water, and no sanitation, this place was not fit for humans to live. Many rooms housed multiple families of more than ten people each. Crimes, including robbery and murder, soon plagued the Vaults.

Burke and Hare, the infamous serial killers who sold corpses to medical schools, are rumored to have hunted for victims in the Edinburgh Vaults, evening using the vaults to escape being caught and gain safe passage to the medical schools that purchased their, ummm, product. If the rape, murder, kidnapping and disease wasn’t bad enough there was supposedly a great fire inside the vaults that killed many of its residents.

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Now I have no doubt that much of what I have already told you is true, its just the basic human condition, or maybe its the crab mentality, always trying to pull someone else down to make sure you can rise, humans can be particularly viscous, take away day light, a cold breeze and witnesses and personally i think after a while people would become less humane. So when we arrived at the tour our guide took us around the city a little first, now for anyone who hasn’t seen Edinburgh, it is a must Edinburgh is Scotland‘s Capital and it is very beautiful, a wonderful old city in such a picturesque area with wonderful people, go see it now! He explained to us a little history about the city, to help put in perspective everything that we would see once we entered the vaults, this was all build up even letting people use the bathroom before they went into the vaults, personally I was thankful for this as I hadn’t been all day and hey you can never be to careful. Now before we got into the vaults we where shown a collection of torture instruments, worryingly I knew to many of them but this all helped set the grim mood.

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Once we arrived in the vaults we noticed how warm the place was, instantly you needed to loose a lair, it was dark as we expected and the atmosphere was very grim. the hairs on my neck where at a stand still, we where told to listen out for a whistle, I am ashamed to say that yes I heard said whistle, but hey that could be my ears playing tricks. I have heard many stories of women’s hair being pulled in the vaults, people being cut (just shallow ones), voices being heard and even actual appearances by ghosts, weather you believe in ghosts or not, the vaults are a very creepy place. They take you to a haunted room with a circle that is supposed to hold an evil spirit, I have a had a friend tell me he felt something here, me I stood in the circle and nothing happened, again its all perception.

The only room that really freaked me out was the last room, everywhere else on the tour I had to be in a t shirt, here I had my hoodie back on me, it was freezing, like cold enough to see my breath, yet my the end of the talk the room was roasting again, this was a  big room and a small tour so there is no way body heat alone could make the room warm, especially in only a few minutes, this particular room was supposed to hold the spirit of a dead child, that alone got a few people scared, they split the group into two halves men clumped together on one side and the women spread apart on the other, apparently many women have been accosted in this room. I am not someone who believes in these sorts of things, but I am someone who wants to believe in them, maybe it was the atmosphere of the place, or maybe all this really happened, there is supposed to be a practicing Wicca Coven in the Vaults, maybe all the proof we saw of this is just faked to add a further lair to the tour, i cant say any of that for sure, all I can is its very creepy down there and its a great tour to take.

 

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