Edinburgh is claimed to be one of the most haunted cities in the world. There are stories associated with, not just the Old Town, but different parts of the city that have entered folklore. It is difficult to know where the reality ends and the legend begins except perhaps when dealing with hauntings that happen in the present day. Here are some of those old stories together with more up to date mysteries.
THE GHOSTLY PIPER
According to legend, many years ago some workmen discovered a tunnel while working at the castle. A piper offered to investigate and marched down the tunnel while curious locals followed the sounds down the Royal Mile. When they got to the Tron the music stopped and the piper was never seen again. The tunnel was sealed and they say that ever since, when it is quiet, you can still hear the faint sounds of the piper.
In the late 18th/early 19th century a man in a big red hat with a pale complexion was seen. A James Campbell was taken to court by the landlord of several properties in the street accused of spreading ghost stories to get the rent reduced. Campbell was fined £5 and told not to mention the ghost but on his way out he asked the court if he could still talk to the ghost as he had done on many occasions.
HAUNTED UNDERGROUND CITY
Underneath South Bridge are many vaults and passageways. The bridge was built over Niddry Wynd and its cobbled street still lies under the bridge. In the past people lived in the vaults and there were even shops underground. You can visit the vaults on a tour and over the years many ghost stories have surfaced. Some scientific research has been conducted here but no hard evidence of the afterlife has been obtained. One of the most interesting stories happened early in 2003 when a radio producer was interviewing former rugby star, Norrie Rowan who owns part of the underground city. On playing the interview back there was a ghostly voice shouting Go Away in Gaelic but no one else had been there at the time.
I have been down there on 3 occasions and on my last visit in 2010 the group had just entered a vault when I felt the man beside me was standing just a bit too close. I could feel him breathing on me. I turned to discover there was no one beside me and at that moment the guide said that if anyone felt breathing on their neck they should stand beside her. I moved!
I used to live at the top of the building that you enter the vaults from but nothing much happened there. However I had a private attic in which many things I'd stored over the years went missing and I never understood where they'd gone.
JOHNNY ONE ARM
In 1688 John Chiesly, a wealthy man who owned land in Dalry, sought divorce from his wife. When the barrister, Sir George Lockhart, pronounced that £93 per year should be granted to Mrs Chiesly and the children, Mr Chiesly swore revenge on Sir George. He had wanted to give them nothing.
On Easter Sunday 1689, John Chiesley followed Sir George from an Easter service at St Giles and shot him dead as he was about to enter Old Bank Close. Chiesley did not flee and boasted to the assembled crowd that he had taught Sir George how to do justice. After arrest, he was tortured at the Mercat Cross to see if he had any accomplices then was eventually sentenced to be hung at the Gallow Lee. The hand he used to fire the pistol - his right - was cut off while he was still alive and put on a spike at the West Port. The pistol was hung around his neck and he was left to rot. The body disappeared.
It was said that a ghost haunted Dalry with one arm, laughing and screaming and was seen in the area for almost 300 years until 1965. That year, workmen were removing the hearthstone of a cottage in Dalry Park when they found a skeleton of a man with broken bones. He had no right hand and there was a pistol around his neck. John Chiesley's body was found after nearly 300 years. He was buried and the ghost of Johnny one arm was never seen again.
5 ROTHESAY PLACE
In the 1950's the owners bought some second hand furniture from a recently deceased sailor. They were then haunted by a foot high figure called gnomey.
The ghost of a Mrs Guthrie is said to haunt this close off the High Street wearing her night dress. In the 18th century she was killed by her husband after he discovered she was having an affair and it is said he kept her body in a sealed room for over 20 years.
15 LEARMONTH GARDENS
In the 1930s the owners took a bone from an Egyptian mummy's tomb. The house thereafter was plagued by noise, flying objects and the spectre of an Egyptian Priest. When the bone was burned, the haunting stopped.