Greyfriars Kirkyard, Mackenzie's Tomb and poltergeist. 


I spend a lot of my time in cemeteries. They are such beautiful places - peaceful to some degree, what with the silence, and the grasses and the pathways. The cemeteries back home looked a lot like the kirkyards in Scotland: all jumbled. As if they were a rumpled bed-sheet, scattered with the crumbs of tombstones. Here and there, some flowers peek out of a glass jar, but most of the graves are too old to be visited - and they lay bare like bones worn smooth. There is always a knarled tree that grows from the broken mausoleum, and that one area, below a small dip, where no-one can see you, and you begin to feel that you are too isolated. I like to be a little scared sometimes; it is invigorating to walk farther and farther back into an old cemetery, till you lose sight of the gates, and the path becomes a muddy slip in-between tall trees. 

This being so, I was instantly drawn to the Greyfriar's kirkyard, in Edinburgh, and I spent a lot of my free time wandering between the headstones.


Most of the people that come to visit Greyfriars will have heard of Greyfriars Bobby - a small dog, whose tombstone they come to visit.

But then there are those of us who have heard of another legend, the one concerning the poltergeist.

Greyfriars has long been plagued with stories of a poltergeist, an unusually active one. The ghost, often thought to be George Mackenzie - an administrator for King Charles II, is so active that he has been called the best evidence for supernatural activity. He (if it is a he) has a long track record:

Strangling young boys who taunted his grave. 
Haunting his own house.
Coming back to the cemetery when his grave was desecrated, and scaring the crap out of people.
Clawing and scratching under clothes, often with no pain involved. 
Creating bite marks.
Creating cold spots, measured at under minus 20 degrees celsius. 
Knocking people out cold. 

Naturally, being a weirdo and all, I wanted to investigate.


My own story does not involve any horrible occurrences of scratching or biting. Actually, it is a pretty tame tale, and I still feel a little doubtful about the whole thing.

I had joined a tour of the cemetery, partly for the fun if it, but also because I wished to see the Covenanter's Prison, which is closed to the public due to the many occurrences of people fainting in that area. 

The tour guide was prancing about, and rambling a little, and we were stood about fifty meters from the locked gates of the Covenanter's Prison. I began to feel like someone was watching me, out of the corner of my eye I could spy them: a tall man, about six foot, was standing very close and staring right at me. 

I thought to myself: this is odd. Who would do such a creepy thing. I turned to look at him, and saw just for a moment, a figure. No, not a figure, more like a head and shoulders standing six feet tall or more, and towering over me now. Then it evaporated into the night. I was freaked, but chalked it down to my eyeballs not working. 

Then I returned, same tour, different guide. Nothing happened this time, thank goodness. But I told the guide my little story anyway, and he asked me to come write it down in the log-book, a book of people's experiences. After flicking through that book for a while, I noticed something strange: about the time that I saw my figure, he began cropping up in other people's stories too... Before this, the only accounts were of physical feelings. But now people were actually seeing something, a thing they described as: 'a black shadow of a person, about six foot tall.'

Mackenzie's tomb, a former site of poltergeist activity.
The real life grave of Tom Riddell at Greyfriars.
Gates to the Covenanter's Prison at Greyfriars Kirkyard.
Greyfiars Kirkyard, plaques on the wall of the church.
Spider webs and tombs at Greyfriars - black and white photography.
Greyfriars Bobby - grave of the dog, at night.