While Scotland is known for its scenic beauty, the Harry Potter franchise and its famous kilt and bagpipes, the city’s walls have seen darker days with wails of the poor and cries of victims. Before its wand-holding wizard days, the country was known for a kind of spine-tingling chill with a spooky history of underground cities, serial killers and ghost-roaming castles.
For historic buffs and ghost-lovers, here are the most spooky places in Scotland that you can visit all year round and especially great to visit during Halloween in Edinburgh.
The Old Town – Plague and serial killers
Just as the name suggests, the Old Town of Edinburgh is the oldest part of the city made over a 1000 years ago. The Old Town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995 and just like its age suggests, the area has a hair-raising history of the bubonic plague and serial killing. This area’s narrow and creepy old walls are bound to spook any soul walking through it. Any living soul that is.
This Edinburgh medieval town is famous for a couple of its sites, one of them being Mary King’s Close also dubbed as “Scotland’s Spookiest Street”. Around 400 years ago, this labyrinth of winding narrow walkways was a normal street in the Old Town that saw the world just like any other.
But in 1645, the great plague swept across its people and the infected victims were forcefully quarantined and left to die in the street. Mary King’s Close was then covered up and abandoned for years, hidden underground with citizens living above the bodies of plague victims like nothing had happened. And over time, the result of cruelty that lay silently below them was forgotten. It was only recently that the street re-opened to the world again.
Mary King’s Close was also the killing point for body-snatchers and serial killers Burke and Hare who sold the dead bodies of their victims for use in medical experiments.
If that isn’t creepy enough the Edinburgh Old Town also hides the haunted South Bridge Vaults underneath Edinburgh’s current busiest areas. The vaults were first home to lucrative businesses but when the low-budget bridge that held up the vaults started leaking and getting damp, these businesses moved away and the city’s poorest moved in. Brothels and pubs were set up and the vaults became a centre for crime and murder.
Visitors that walk through the vaults have claimed to have seen the ghosts and spirits of the 16th and 19th victims that in this underground city during the darker days.
Rosslyn Chapel – The Da Vinci Code Church
Standing tall and hauntingly beautiful, the Rosslyn Chapel was made famous by the movie and novel “The Da Vinci Code” which featured the chapel’s ornate stonework interior. The chapel’s mysterious symbolism has also intrigued artists and researchers worldwide.
Taking over 40 years to construct, this working church was originally built for the Sinclair family in the 15th century. With all its pretty artwork intact, you might think that it all had a happy ending but it’s said that the apprentice who carved the famous Apprentice Pillar in the church was murdered by his teacher and visitors can sometimes see or hear him wandering through the building.
Complete with torture chambers, and passing judgement of witch trials, the Edinburgh Dungeon is a horror and thrills attraction that is a must-visit for all those who love chills and thrills. Actors donned in historic costumes tell and show 1,000 years of Scotland and Edinburgh’s history.
If you want to know what old dungeons and medieval tortures and executions were like, the Dungeon is the perfect place to live it first-hand. Without losing your life or getting actually tortured of course. The performances played by the actors involve torture methods on you, putting you and your family through trial and judgement for witchcraft in a 17th-century court and detailing the methods of serial killers that walked the streets centuries ago. It’s all spine-chilling and blood-curdling so make sure you have a strong stomach for this particular experience.
Glamis Castle – The Ghost of Lady Glamis
Sitting in the heart of Angus in Scotland, Glamis Castle has its fair share of secrets, mysteries and rumours of ghosts haunting the castle walls, making it the perfect place for paranormal lovers.
The castle belonged to the Earls of Strathmore and Kinghorne since 1372 and once provided inspiration for William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Glamis castle also saw famous visitors from Mary, Queen of Scots to James V walking through its door.
Glamis Castle is said to be the most haunted castle in Scotland. Visitors have claimed to have seen the ghost of Lady Glamis (Janet Douglas), who was burned at the stake for being a supposed witch in 1537.