Greyfriars Cemetery surrounds Greyfriars Kirk in Old Town Edinburgh, Scotland. The vast burial ground has been accumulating interments since the 16th century and has even accumulated a number of ghost stories.
The cemetery has gained infamy and legends during its lifetime. It is rumored the names carved upon tombstones may have inspired Harry Potter characters. It is known that J.K. Rowling conceived her famed novels in a coffee shop nearby and many have connected the names in the books to the names shown in Greyfriars Kirkyard, especially the grave of a Thomas Riddle.
Legends of grave robbing also prevail. It is said that many of the cage-like structures covering graves were installed due to this morbid practice. A black market for corpses developed as the University’s nearby medical school offered money in exchange for cadavers.
Some far less sinister legends and ones that are even scarier exist related to the Greyfriars Kirkyard.
Haunted Greyfriars Kirkyard
One of the most famous stories to come out of Greyfriars Kirkyard is of a small dog, affectionately known as Greyfriars Bobby. This dog sadly lost its owner to tuberculosis. After his owner was buried inside of Greyfriars Cemetery, the ever-loyal dog remained at his gravesite for the next 14 years until his own death. During this time, Greyfriars Bobby became so well known and cared for within the local community that when he died, he was also interred at the cemetery. Today visitors can see a statue of Bobby outside the graveyard, a pub named after him and a tombstone proudly standing at the entrance to the cemetery in honor of his loyalty. Though these physical tributes remain, many also believe that Greyfriars Bobby has also remained in ghost form. There have been countless reports of visitors sighting a small ghostly dog within the cemetery and even hearing unexplainable, disembodied barks.
Another far more ominous entity is rumored to haunt Greyfriars Kirkyard. This entity is well known as the Mackenzie Poltergeist. This ghost is thought to be that of George Mackenzie who died and was interred in the Mackenzie tomb back in the 1800s. Though it wasn’t until the 1990s when the ghost was thought to be awoken. This occurred after a homeless man, seeking refuge from the weather, broke into the tomb. He received quite a shock, being attacked by a vicious, invisible force. Ever since then, many accounts of people entering the Mackenzie tomb and being bitten, scratched and even having bones broken have come to light. Many even claim this to be the reason that the tomb is sealed off now, being for public safety.
Visiting Haunted Greyfriars Kirkyard
Greyfriars Kirkyard is a truly beautiful cemetery in the heart of Edinburgh, Scotland. It has a great history and many more stories to tell. Visits are essential if you are in the city! This will likely be a stop on many ghost tours operating in Edinburgh, due to the prevalence of its supposed hauntings.
Entry is free, there is also a small souvenir and information store inside of the Greyfriars Church.
If you enjoyed this article and are looking to learn about more other haunted cemeteries in Scotland. I recommend checking out the Glasgow Necropolis.
Thanks for reading!