Graveyards and all things spooky fascinate me. I love walking around on a crisp autumn day reading all the names and about the people who walked these streets before me. Sometimes I take notes, google names to try and find out a little more about them and their life, some already have stories and rumours that circulate the city and are told throughout our childhoods and some are lesser known with no real information about them.
I’ve put together a list of my favourite ones around the city that are all easy to walk to from Princes Street.
Probably one of Edinburghs most famous graveyards and the most ‘haunted’ graveyard in the word, be careful not to bump into George MacKenzie or “Bloody Mackenzie” he earned the nickname for sending hundreds of Protestant Covenanters to their deaths in the 1670’s.
It’s also filled with the inspiration for J.K Rowling and her Harry Potter characters, and of course we can’t forget the famous stories of Greyfriars Bobby, a sweet little sky terrier that sat by his masters grave for 14 years.
Some fascinating stories come from this one. It’s the final resting place of Adam Smith, (1723-1790) Author and Philosopher. He wrote Wealth of Nations and argued for free trade. You can visit his grave along with that of Ebeneezer Scrooge.
‘Here lies Ebeneezer Scrooge, A mean man’. The grave that was the inspiration for Charles Dickens a Christmas Carol, turns out it was actually ‘Ebenezer Lennox Scroggie – a meal man’. And was misread… The gravestone was stolen back in the 90’s and has never been found!
Old Calton Burial Ground
Opened in 1718 and final resting place to David Hume (1711-1776) Scotlands most famous philosopher and a few other notable names, Old Calton Hill can be accessed with a wee walk up Jacobs Ladder. It became
Once, the largest prison in Scotland, the remains of Calton Jail can be seen here too. So big it was sometimes mistaken for Edinburgh Castle by visitors, before being demolished in 1935.
New Calton Burial Ground
Just half a mine from Old Calton Cemetery this one was built as an overspill in 1817 from the Old Calton Burial ground, exhuming and reburying approx 300 bodies, they closed it to new burials for 3 years. It has a watch tower in the corner that was used to spot body snatchers back in the day and has a stunning view from the top!
It’s also the final resting place of Robert Louis Stevenson, (1850-1894) author of Treasure Island and The Strange Case fo Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, believed to be based on infamous Deacon Brodie.
St Cuthberts Cemetery
At the west end, next to Princes Street gardens this one has a stunning view of the castle from almost every angle, with the oldest tombstone dating 1606. It was a favourite among grave robbers, or ‘resurrectionists’ in the 1700’s until they hired a guard and built a watchtower on the grounds.
Here you’ll find James Findlay, (1722-1862) the first gunner to fire the One O’clock Gun from Edinburgh Castle and Alexander Nasmyth, (1758-1840) and artist known for one of the most famous portraits of his friend, Robert Burns, which you can see hanging in the Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh.
Edinburgh Castle Dog cemetery
“Berkin dugs here lie at rest
The yappin worst, obedient best
Sodgers pets and mascots tae
Still the guard the castle to this day”
– Robert Burns
This is a quirky wee extra one that I couldn’t leave out. Edinburgh Castle is an active barracks and while you can’t actually access this little place, it can be seen from the top of Edinburgh Castle. Just down from the Argyle Battery Ledge, next to St. Margaret’s Chapel, lies the sweet little spot where the service dogs are all laid to rest. The oldest visible headstone dates 1881.