The Ghost That Haunted Itself: The Gruesome Ghoul of Edinburgh's Greyfriars Graveyard

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Mainstream, 2001 - 208 pages
2 Reviews
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Greyfriar's Cemetery in Edinburgh has a centuries-old reputation for being haunted. Its gruesome history includes witchcraft, body-snatching, desecration, corpse dumping, and live burial. In 1998, something new and inexplicable began occurring in the graveyard. Visitors encountered ?cold spots,” strange smells, and banging noises. They found themselves overcome by nausea, or cut and bruised by something they couldn't see. Over a period of two years, 24 people were knocked unconscious. Homes next to the graveyard were plagued by smashing crockery, moving objects, and unidentified laughter. Witnesses to these incidents ran into the hundreds. The section of Greyfriars where the attacks occurred is now chained shut, but the poltergeist still grows stronger.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ElleLainey - LibraryThing

I really enjoyed this book. As well as being spooky and entertaining, as it tells the story of Ben Scott and his venture to start the City of the Dead Tours, it gives an accurate history of Old ... Read full review

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This was one of those rare books that I get my hands on and just cannot put down - the type of book that I rush home from work, just so I can read some more. I finished the book within days!
story is more interesting to me because I spent a large chunk of my childhood in Edinburgh's Old Town and I recognise all of the placenames, gates of the Kirkyard, individual tombs (including the notorious George MacKenzie tomb), the Covenanter's Prison (and actually entered here once before it was all locked off), the Black Mausoleum etc - I'd also been on a "return home" visit to Edinburgh just 8 weeks before I bought this book and I'd also spent a long visit in Greyfriars Kirkyard itself (and had taken photos of George Mackenzie's tomb and The Covenanter's Prison - many of which appeared to have unexplained marks, smudges, lights etc on them - however, all but one have been explained away by me, myself upon closer inspection!) and had enjoyed a drink in Bobby's Bar.
The book is well written and at times is certainly VERY spooky and at the same time, Jan-Andrew Henderson doesn't try to force you to believe - in fact he's refreshingly very honest in how tour guides were in fact disbelieving of the hauntings and actually thought little of those tourists who fainted but this leads onto my reason for deducting a star!
The more I read this book, the less I liked the people I was reading about - they come across as very arrogant, uncouth and disrespectful not only to the tourists who pay their wages but also to the dead whose gravestones they use as stages, lunch tables and sunloungers and the further into the book you read, it becomes apparent that they don't actually know if they are messing with an evil entity or not (their opinion is divided amongst themselves) yet they admit that they're still willing to take people in there, not knowing if they could be seriously injured or worse.
Personally, I love Greyfriars and yes, I do visit there every time I go home and I do like to look at the amazing tombs and graves but I also believe that the dead should be respected - there's no excuse to leap onto someone's gravestone (who's not even mentioned in the tour) and use their final resting place as a stage and stamp all over the delicate and crumbling sandstone that these gravestones are made of.
I was going to go on this tour when I go home this Summer, but after reading this book, I shall be giving it a wide berth, due to their blatant lack of respect - they come across as though they regularly slag off tourists in the pub afterwards and why should I pay them to bitch about me if I think I feel anything or if I faint because fear has got the better of me?
My aunt lives in one of the flats that overlook the kirkyard (that overlooks the gate where severed heads of criminals used to be displayed) and she admits that she gets uncomfortable at times and things odd happen.
I do find it important to add though, that I have spoken to staff who now work on this tour and they came across as lovely, but this book really did cause them to lose at least two "tourists" this upcoming Summer.
Going back to this book though - it's a definite recommendation! It will absorb you, it will horrify you, it will have you questionning your own beliefs - I'm so glad I bought this book and it will be one that I read again one day.

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