Archive for Haunted

Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh

Posted in Cemetery, Church, Edinburgh, Ghosts, History, Sculpture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 18, 2014 by mysearchformagic

If there is one place you can be pretty sure of finding magic, it is in an old graveyard, and my visit to Greyfriar’s Kirkyard in Edinburgh this week certainly didn’t disappoint. The graveyard is situated on the edge of the city’s Old Town, and has been in use since the 16th Century, so there are lots of wonderful old tombs and carved stones to look at.

A packed corner of Greyfriars Kirkyard

A packed corner of Greyfriars Kirkyard

As I wandered around the graveyard, I noticed skulls and skeletons everywhere. A rather lively looking dancing skeleton welcomes you as you enter, and many of the tombs are decorated with carved Memento Mori, suitably macabre reminders of our own mortality.

A Dancing Skeleton near the entrance to Greyfriars Kirkyard

A Dancing Skeleton near the entrance to Greyfriars Kirkyard

As well as being the last resting place of many of Scotland’s most prestigious citizens, the Kirkyard has also witnessed some dramatic events over the years. In 1679 over a thousand Covenanters, Scottish Christians who were battling for a new style of worship and church organisation, were kept prisoner in a corner of the graveyard. They were left out of doors for over four months, surviving on scraps of bread and any extra food which kindly locals were able to sneak in to them. Not surprisingly many died, and more were later executed, and the melancholy spot now bears a memorial to those who lost their lives in this atrocity.

The Covenater's Prison, Greyfriars Kirkyard

The Covenaters’ Prison, Greyfriars Kirkyard

The tomb of the man largely responsible for these terrible events sits just a few yards away. Sir George Mackenzie (1636-1691), later known as “Bloody Mackenzie” for obvious reasons, now rests in a rather grand, if slightly overgrown monument, designed by famous Scottish architect James Smith.

The tomb of "Bloody" MacKenzie

The tomb of “Bloody” Mackenzie

I say that he rest there, but in fact recent reports of ghostly events near the tomb suggest that Mackenzie is not resting at all, with hundreds of unexplained events in the graveyard in recent years being blamed on his malevolent spirit. If you really want to be creeped out, then ghost tours of the Kirkyard are held every evening. Check it out, if you dare…

A Memento Mori in Greyfriars Kirkyard

A Memento Mori in Greyfriars Kirkyard


The Greatcoat, Helen Dunmore

Posted in Books, Ghosts with tags , , , , , on February 25, 2013 by mysearchformagic

It’s been a while since I have featured a book in my search for magic, so inspired by Jeanette Winterson’s The Daylight Gate, I decided to check out another of the new supernatural tales commissioned by Hammer publishing. Apart from the fact that it is rather brief, and readable in one sitting, Helen’s Dunmore’s novel The Greatcoat  has little in common with the Winterson’s work, except of course for the fact that it is decidedly spooky and most definitely magical.

The Greatcoat, Helen Dunmore

The Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore

The early 1950s were a tough time in Britain, the country mired in post-war austerity. Food was still in short supply, moral standards were strict, life was often pretty grey. For Isabel Carey, a newlywed setting up home in rural Yorkshire, things certainly are not easy. Her husband is trying to establish himself as a GP, and working all the hours, and their grim rented flat is cold and forbidding. The days are long and lonely. But when Isabel finds an RAF greatcoat folded up in one of the closets, things begin to change. That night she hears a knock at the window, and an unexpected guest arrives – a young man in RAF uniform.

The Greatcoat is different from your average ‘haunted house’ ghost story. Much of it is rather romantic, as Isabel develops an inevitable bond with her mysterious visitor. Like every good thriller, the story unravels itself slowly at first, but gathers speed as the truth is gradually revealed and the narrative rumbles towards a nerve-wracking finale. Dunmore explores the shadowy world of memory, and as Isabel’s own complex past mixes with that of Alec the ghostly pilot, the borders between reality and the supernatural begin to blur. The Greatcoat is elegantly written, atmospheric and more than a little sad. Strange things happen when people are lost and lonely, often with tragic consequences. But will the ending be a happy one for Isabel Carey? I’m not going to tell you, so there is only one way to find out…