A Trip Aboard the Haunted History Bus
With Hallowe'en approaching, it is time to get into the *spirit* [boom boom] of things and get seriously spooky. Let Edinburgh's Haunted History Bus get you in the mood with twisted dark tales from days gone by. Here are some of our favourites.
The City is Built on Corpses
Yep, you read right. One area known for being surrounded by dead bodies is Greyfriars Kirkyard, not simply for its use as a more modern burial ground. The next time you walk u the steep hill of Candlemaker Row and pop by the Graveyard to visit Bobby, George Mackenzie or even Tom Riddle (recognise the name?) then you might want to take a second to realise you are walking over half a million dead bodies.
In olden times, death was such a popular hobby that bodies were tossed into a pit and left to decay. It was only as civilised society arrived in Edinburgh that tombstones were erected and people were given a bit of peace to... rest in peace.
Or were they?
Bodysnatching was Rife
Within the same Graveyard, there are some pretty unusual looking tombs known as Mortsafes, They weren't designed to stop someone getting out (hopefully they were dead right?) but to stop people getting in.
The most famous of these opportunistic outlaws were Burke and Hare; stealing fresh bodies from their graves and selling them on for medical science. Sometimes these bodies were too fresh and hadn't even met their grave yet - Burke and Hare helped them along the way by brutally murdering them.
The pair roamed the streets of Edinburgh, prowling for unsuspecting victims. As the residents' fears grew, they created watch parties; people would eat sleep and live near their dead relatives graves for up to two weeks, protecting their loved ones from ending up on an anatomy table.
Thankfully, in 1832 the Anatomy Act was introduced making it possible for Doctors to have access to enough cadavers that graves were left in peace. William Burke had been hanged three years prior; his body used for science and his death mark and skeleton still on display as a warning. However Hare, however, escaped to England and was never heard of again...
We Were Experts in Torture
Whether innocent or guilty, our Edinburgh ancestors were amongst the blood-thirsty vengeful group of people to roam the earth. Charged with witchcraft? You would be "douked" int he Nor' Loch, an ancient cesspit in front of Edinburgh Castle (the next time you eat your sandwiches on the lush green grass of the gardens, remember what lies underneath you).
Should you drown, ah well - you weren't guilty. Should you float however...
Now, bear in mind that most ladies in those days would be wearing full petticoats in which air could be trapped - a large number of these ladies would bob on the surface. Phew!
Not quite...if you floated, you were a WITCH and the whole city would come out to watch you pay the price. Over 300 Edinburgh women were burned at the stake on the esplanade of the Castle; 3,800 dying throughout Scotland as a whole.
If you were female there was a good chance you would be suspected. Fun huh? If you should have a birthmark, deformity or act in an odd fashion, you were in trouble. Out of fear, suspected women names others in a bid to save their lives. All it saved was time, as hundreds of women were dragged screaming to their deaths. Think its all behind us? The last witch was tried in Scotland in 1944...
The history of Edinburgh is beautiful and there is no better way to hear all about it that on the hour long Haunted History Bus tour. With combo packs to get into the Edinburgh Dungeon, start your Hallowe'en off with the horror it deserves.
To book tickets, please visit https://www.hauntedhistorybus.com/
With thanks The Hairy Coo Tours for 2 tickets to the Haunted Bus/Edinburgh Dungeons combo. Thoughts are my own.