Top 10 Haunted Places in Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh has the reputation of being one of the most haunted places in the world. Here are the TOP haunted places in and around the city of Edinburgh.

1) Niddry Street Vaults

Niddry Street VaultsThis labyrinth of tunnels under the bridge was completed in the 18th century and was once used to house taverns and other activities of questionable integrity. Before you enter the “vaults” you are warned of the potential health risk, due to a high number of reported attacks on visitors each day and it being well known as the most active in the UK for paranormal events. The history of the vaults are a bit vague, but it is known that they are 1 of 3 vaults beneath Edinburgh, St. Mary Street and Blair Street being the other two. The living conditions, at the time originally built, beneath the ground, as you could imagine, would be rather horrific with no natural lighting, over crowed and cramped, damp and nonexistent sanitation. Crimes such as robbery and murder were sky high at the time it was used. The vaults were eventually abandoned in around 1875 after almost 100 years of use. The vaults were reopened in 1990s to Auld Reekie Ghost Tours and an active witches’ coven.

One of the activities in the vaults is of a poltergeist that controls one room, it is common for newly installed light bulbs to burst within seconds of being replaced, and no one tries replacing them anymore. The area is dammed to be in lantern lit semi-darkness forever. Woman are attacked in this room and people have been known to faint. The sounds of whispering, children crying, heavy footsteps, shuffling noises and whimpering can be heard often and then the feeling of being grabbed or scratched.

The scariest story is in the first room the coven temple tried to locate into, it was in the deepest room in the vault, this is considered to be the area with the most activity. Soon after the coven picked that room to practice their craft, a dark presence could be felt in the room. When they left at night locking up they returned in the morning founding everything lying on the floor. Children were scared to enter the room in fear the “shadow man” would crawl out of the mirror decorating one of the walls. It is believed this mirror was acting as a doorway to some other world, some sort of portal for evil. The leader of the coven decided to take matters into his own hands and got rid of the mirror.

The coven leader set up a stone circle and placed a protection spell within the circle so no evil could enter while he was inside. Later on into the night the leader of the coven heard something around the circle getting faster and faster crawling on the floor, then suddenly it stopped. Just when he thought it was gone he heard it climbing the walls, that was  when he realized it was no longer ground level but above him within the circle. Frightened to what may happen next, he jumped out the circle and reversed the spell trapping the demon within the circle forever. The coven nor its leader will reenter that area and moved to a different part of the vault. Still to this day the demon is trapped within the circle. Some tours will let you enter the circle – but at your own risk.

2) Edinburgh Castle, Royal Mile

Edinburgh Castle. Royal MileHome of the Scottish crown jewels and still home to some of the military, Edinburgh Castle has been witness to many a bloody battle, murders and witch burnings. The original fort is long gone and the only partial ruins are the oldest building in Edinburgh, the 12th century chapel known as St. Margaret’s. Edinburgh has a hidden underworld to which the castle is very much a part of, and secret tunnels that are said to lead to the palace at the end of the Royal Mile. When the tunnels where first discovered, a lone piper was sent down to see just how far they went. A crowd gathered and listened to the piper’s bagpipe sound until the music suddenly stopped. A search party was sent down to find the piper but there was no trace of him, it was as if he had vanished into the pits of hell. The ghostly sounds of the bag pipes can be heard today and the piper has been sighted within the castle and around the battlements.

Another disembodied spirit said to haunt the castle is of Lady Janet Dougal of Glamis who was imprisoned with the accusation of witchcraft and conspiring to kill King James V. The evidence collected against her was from her servants who were tortured into reluctantly confessing that their mistress was indeed in league with the devil. She was burnt alive at the stake on July 17th 1537, her young son was forced to attend her dying screams. Lady Janet’s restless soul has been seen and the sounds of her weeping are heard.

People who visit and take pictures in the dungeon area have also caught different colored orbs. Are these the poor souls that were tortured and left to rot in the dungeons many years ago?

3) Queenbury House, Canongate

Queenbury House, CanongateToday Queenbury House is part of the Scottish Parliament, but the building has a horrific story. Owned by the 1st Duke of Queensbury, the Dukes first son James was detested in Scotland, he had taken bribes to unite Scotland to England thus ending Scotland’s independence in 1707. After a night out in the town, James returned home to discover a most ghastly scene.

James oldest son had been born disabled, back when deformities would have caused a family great shame, so James did the most natural thing of that time and locked his son in a room. But that dreadful night somehow the boy had managed to break out of his room! The boy wandering the halls searching for the smell of food from the kitchen. He made his way. When he reached the kitchen a young servant boy was preparing food. The servant ran frightened with the sight of the deformed beast son, sadly not fast enough.

Upon James return he noticed an awful burning smell; James rushed to the kitchen fearing it to be on fire. When James entered he was met with the sight of his son feasting on the freshly cooked servant boy. Some historians believe this story was a political smear campaign on James, but the sighting of a young boy wandering the halls has been seen. Is this the cannibalized kitchen servant or the deformed son?

4) Greyfriars Kirkyard, Candle-Makers Row

Bobby the loyal dogBecause of the 1961 Disney movie, Greyfriars Bobby, people think about the faithful little dog “Bobby” who held a vigil on his master’s grave for 16 years. But what they left out was the fact that the graveyard has been dubbed the scariest place on earth. Part of the mystique was from Burke and Hare, they were known to earn their living selling freshly dug up corpses to medical schools. When most of the “Covenanters” (Scottish Presbyterian movement) were captured and executed, some were held in an area in the graveyard, this area is now known as the “covenanter prison”. This area is feared for its high paranormal activity, many attacks happen to people who are on ghost tours.


Greyfriars KirkyardGuests are known to pass out and some being rushed to hospital. The paranormal activity is documented in a log and photo album in the gift shop just feet within the graveyard. It is estimated that 350 attacks on people happened between 1990 and 2006. There have been bruises, scratches, bite and gauge marks.

In 2000 there was an attempt to exorcise the place. Expert Colin Grant was summoned to the graveyard and could feel the evil presence was very over powering. Two exorcisms took place with the last one was so intense Colin said, “This place would be the death of me”. Sadly a few weeks later Colin’s words did in fact come true, he died suddenly of a massive heart attack. Did the evil forces have anything to do with this?

5) Tollbooth, Tavern, & Museum, Canongate

Tollbooth, Tavern, & Museum. CanongateBuilt in 1591, which replaced the original tollbooth, the building served as many different purposes such as police station, fire station and the tax collector. The building was also a jail holding Covenanters, Jacobites and witches. The jail was very easy to escape from.

There are records that show a suspected warlock was held prisoner there and an exorcism on him took place. The suspect was so frightened by this experience he died of fright. The sound of children running and playing has been heard and conversations between two people that no one can see. Echoing in the halls are the sounds of heavy footsteps climbing the stairs to the clock tower. Some visitors have complained of feeling particularly uneasy in the top room. One witness claims to have had a deep voice whisper GET OUT in her ear. The tavern next door to the museum has also had its share of paranormal activity from glasses falling or moving on their own. A dark shadow is often seen at the very back of the pub.

6) Blair Street Vaults

Blair Street VaultsIf you are a fan of the TV show Ghost Adventures you will have heard of the Blair Street Vaults. Blair Street Vaults are what remains of a series of chambers / rooms dating back to 1788. Most of the rooms were used by merchants, taverns and other trades. When the new town was built most of the rich moved out of the old town and out of the vaults. Just like Niddry Street the conditions deteriorated. The poor moved in causing crime to rise. There was no lighting because candle wax was far too expensive, so most felt their way around in the dark. The dead body thieves Burke and Hare would store their ill-gotten goods there as it was near the old surgeon’s college. In 1820 the vaults were abandoned, sealed up and almost forgotten about until 1990. After they were discovered a lot of paranormal activity has been reported including groaning sounds and that of a child crying. A dog has been seen and heard within those walls.

One of the sad stories is of a young female spirit who haunts the vaults; she is believed to have been with child but sadly miscarried. She was so distraught by this it drove her to a deep depression she either died of a broken heart or she took her own life. This female spirit may be behind some of the attacks that happen to pregnant woman, in one room it is said, “If a pregnant lady stands in the corner she is pushed, or passes out”. But in the same room a kind looking old man is seen working on shoes, he has been named “The Cobbler”. One of the most vicious spirits is Mr. Boots, he gets very angry when people enter his room with lights shining. He is known to be violent towards woman and will push them hard to get them out his room.

7) Playhouse Theater

Playhouse TheaterFrom the outside the playhouse looks astonishing and upon entering it is easy to be overwhelmed by its beauty. Built in 1927, it is Scotland’s biggest theatre. Once a movie cinema, with the seating capacity of 3,000 it has become one of the main Scottish venues for large scale musical productions, from Cats to the Phantom of the Opera. The Playhouse has its own phantom by the name of Albert, he is seen on a daily basis and is both friendly and mischievous. He openings fire doors and moves objects. Albert is believed to be the spirit of a former maintenance man who sadly passed away after an accident backstage. If you don’t see him you will feel him in the cold spots which are felt in odd places within the building.

8) The National museum of flight, East Fortune

museum of flight. East FortuneThis old RAF base is now home to many different historical airplanes and other aeronautics, some exhibits date back to 1909. For years staff and visitors have complained of strange incidents. Sightings are of a man in full flight uniform ready to fly his plane. He is momentarily seen in crowds or down deserted corridors.

In Hanger #3 one of the planes is said to move on its own when the museum is locked and alarmed at night. Other reports are of a face in the planes’ cockpit, footsteps, cold spots and shadow figures in the hanger.

9) Rosslyn Chapel, Near Edinburgh City Center

Rosslyn ChapelJust located outside the main city center, Rosslyn Chapel has been the focus of many mysteries. The obscure sculptures and seemingly coded architecture has made it a prime site for Holy Grail hunters and is the setting for The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.

The chapel has a murder mystery of its own. Back when the chapel was being built a stone master mason and his young apprentice were working on the pillars, after the apprentice was left on his own for a few days, the master mason returned horrified to discover his apprentice’s beautiful craftsmanship. Overcome with jealousy the master murdered the boy in the chapel. The apprentice has been seen in and around the chapel. The sighting of a monk has also been seen within the chapel.

10) Dalmahoy Hotel, Kirknewton

Dalmahoy Hotel, KirknewtonThis gorgeous building was built in 1725 for George Darlymple. The property was sold in 1750 to the Lord Dougal of Morton. In 1927 the house was opened as a hotel with a golf course established on the grounds.

The sighting of a lady in white has been seen in the older parts of the building. She is friendly with a calm and loving feeling. She is the ghost of Lady Mary Dougal, daughter of the Earl who bought the house in 1750. Her picture hangs prominently in the hotel to welcome the guests.

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