Tucked away in the Old Town of Edinburgh, the Greyfriars Kirkyard houses even the restless spirits of the locals. Even a poltergeist known as George Mackenzie.

Cold spots, white figures behind the graves and knocking noises from below the ground, the reports about Greyfriars Kirkyard being haunted are endless. A haunted cemetary is a must for an old town like Edinburgh and just at the end of George IV Bridge by the Museum of Scotland you will find Edinburgh’s one. At Greyfriars Kirkyard the visitors will leave wondering if it was just the wind or something more. 

The cemetery was built in 1562 by Mary Queen of Scots, also known as Bloody Mary throughout history. It is now one of the main attractions on the many haunted bus rides you can jump on in the old town. For good reason if we believe the locals. 


Even today there is gruesome stuff going on in the Greyfriars Kirkyard. Edinburgh was a notorious place where grave robberies of bodies happened as the demand for fresh flesh for the medical schools were in high demand. Something of the past, there are not many cases of grave robbery as this today. But as recently as 2003 two teenagers were arrested for grave robbery as they cut the head from one of the corpses and used it as a glove puppet. 

Famous Graves

Many famous and notable residents of Edinburgh are buried in this place, including Hames Hutton, Robert Adam as well as perhaps the most famous local, the dog Greyfriars Bobby. 

Greyfriars Bobby: 
Tucked away in the Old Town of Edinburgh, the Greyfriars Kirkyard houses even the restless spirits of the locals. Even a poltergeist known as George Mackenzie.
Greyfriars Bobby: Edinburgh’s most beloved dog, Bobby is laid to rest in the cemetery.

Greyfriars Bobby was a dog so loyal to his master that he never left his side, even in death as he watched over his master’s final resting place for 14 years until he died himself and is now buried beside him in the Greyfriars Kirkyard with the queen’s permission. 

Even if they weren’t famous when they were alive, J.K Rowling made many famous today as she is said to have been inspired by the names on many of the tombstones. 

Many ghosts have been reported on this graveyard from when it was first built, however, today the Mackenzie Poltergeist is perhaps the most famed one. 

This is not the only supposed haunted graveyard we have written about. Check out these ghost stories set in cemeteries as well:

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Bluidy Mackenzie

In 2000 the spiritualist Colin Grant tried to lay one of the restless spirits to rest in the cemetery. A few weeks later he died of a heart attack. After his death, many attributed this death to be caused by the poltergeist of the cemetery, Bloody Mackenzie. 

Since the 19th century children believed that there was something off with this particular grave at Greyfriars Kirkyard. They used to run up to the keyhole and yell:

“Bluidy Mackenzie, come out if ye daur, Lift the Sneck and draw the bar!”

George Mackenzie was known as Bluidy (Bloody) Mackenzie when he was still living and was not remembered as a kind man. He worked as a lawyer for the King and imprisoned around 1200 protestant rebels that refused to pledge their allegiance to the catholic king. 


The nickname comes from the horrible torture he made the prisoners he held captive in an area in Greyfriars Kirkyard known as the Covenanters Prison. It was an open area closed off by the city wall. Hundreds of people died when they went without water, food and shelter from the weather.

It is said that by 1679 there were only 48 Covenanters left alive with the rest heads on spikes along the gate.  

Although Mackenzie ran away to England and died there, he was sent back after his death. After his death he was laid to rest in a mausoleum located on the same place where so many of his victims met their unfortunate end. 

The Black Mausoleum

Apparently the activity around the mausoleum never seems to rest. Dead animals turns up around it without an obvious cause of death and mysterious fires are also often blamed on the strange activity that seems to happen around the Black Mausoleum in Greyfriars Kirkyard. 

Robert Adamson, Greyfriars' Churchyard, the Mackenzie Tomb [Edinburgh 75]

Tucked away in the Old Town of Edinburgh, the Greyfriars Kirkyard houses even the restless spirits of the locals. Even a poltergeist known as George Mackenzie.
The Black Mausoleum: The tomb of ‘bloody’ George Mackenzie in Greyfriars Churchyard from the 1840s.

The story is that a homeless man seeking shelter from the weather broke into the Mackenzie mausoleum known as the Black Mausoleum and disturbed the spirits there, making a poltergeist angry and releasing its fury. Allegedly as soon as the homeless man placed his hand on the grave the floor opened underneath him and swallowed him whole as it dropped him into a grave of plague victims.  

Another version of the story is a criminal that hid inside the mausoleum for six months. John Hayes had apparently gone mad inside the mausoleum he only left to scavenge for food occasionally. According to him, the coffins in the mausoleum moved all on their own and he could hear Mackenzie turning inside his coffin. 

It was also here the teenagers aged 15 and 17 broke in and desecrated the corpse inside. Apparently they are rumored to even have drunk wine from the skull after they cut off the head. This incident was one of the things that made the cemetery and the Black Mausoleum famous

The Poltergeist of the Cemetery

Since then, reports of scratches, bruises and burns on people that have been there as well as people collapsing for no apparent reason in the cemetery. They claim that between 300 and up to 500 guests from the 90s to 2006 felt like they were attacked by this poltergeist. 


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