Spooktacular Edinburgh Ghost Stories

Edinburgh Ghost Stories to tell this Halloween

Old ghosts, new ghosts, spectres, poltergeists, ghouls and banshees – you name it, Edinburgh has them all. Our city is known as one of the most haunted in the world. With spooky graveyards filled with tales of tortured souls and wronged victims determined to leave their mark on the living. So in celebration of Halloween, a night when paranormal activity is at its highest, we thought we’d share these Edinburgh ghost stories. Guaranteed to send shivers down your spine.

The Headless Woman Of Bruntsfield

Not too long ago, there was an old, elegant fourteenth-century house by Bruntsfield Links. Lieutenant-General Robertson of Lawers and his staff lived there. And it wasn’t long before one of the General’s servants started complaining about a headless woman carrying a baby. She would appear in his room every night by the fireplace. However, the servant was fond of a drink or two. So the General never gave the complaint much thought.

As time wore on, the servant left the house to find work elsewhere. The room lay empty and the household forgot about the story of the headless woman. But when workers demolished the building a few years later, they found the skeletal remains of a woman and a baby beneath the disgruntled servant’s room. What’s more, the woman’s head was severed off.

Learmonth Gardens And “The Curse Of The Pharaoh”

In a respectable house in a respectable part of Edinburgh, a family found themselves on the wrong side of an Egyptian poltergeist. In the mid 1930s, Sir Alexander Seton and his family took a trip to Egypt where Lady Seton brought back a small (and deadly) memento from the Temple of Luxor. When they returned home, they placed the small bone in a glass case in the dining room. Almost immediately, strange and disturbing things started to happen. Crashing sounds, broken ornaments and rooms left in disarray became the norm. And amidst the chaos, a ghostly figure appeared to the family all who visited.

The MacKenzie Poltergeist in Greyfriars Kirkyard

Graves in Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh

Perhaps one of the most famous Edinburgh ghost stories, the MacKenzie Poltergeist resides in Greyfriars Kirkyard. This malevolent spirit dwells upon the burial ground of plague victims from medieval times.

The tale itself is of a man known as George MacKenzie who worked under King Charles II. He persecuted Scottish Presbetarians, otherwise known as Covenanters. MacKenzie’s work has been attributed to the creation of the world’s first concentration camp – located in a corner of the Greyfriars Kirkyard. His nickname was “Bloody MacKenzie”, as a result of his gleeful love for execution by the gallows.

Since 1999, Greyfriars Kirkyard has seen increasingly chilling paranormal activity. Including an instance of a homeless man fleeing the graveyard shortly after breaking into MacKenzie’s mausoleum. As a result, the Edinburgh City Council chose to close off this particular part of the graveyard, with the exception of a few chosen tour companies.

Edinburgh Playhouse’s Albert the Stagehand

Mask hanging in theatre

Are you planning a trip to the theatre? You may just catch another type of show altogether!

There have been several instances of spotting an ethereal outline. Rumoured to wear a grey coat and create paranormal cold spots throughout the theatre, the origins of the ghost named Albert are unknown. However, there has been some speculation that he was a former stagehand who had an unfortunate accident, or a night watchman who committed suicide.

The Great Lafayette, Illusionist Extraordinaire

Magician's gloved hand holding a magic wand

The Great Lafayette, also known as Sigmund Neuberger, was a famous illusionist, who came to Edinburgh in 1911 to perform his latest show. He died in a fire after an accident on stage, and some say his spirit still haunts the auditorium of the Edinburgh Festival Theatre.

Read the full story in our Great Lafayette blog.

Of course, these are just a few of many Edinburgh ghost stories. Why not stay with us here at Parliament House Hotel on a haunted city break and delve deeper into our city’s haunted past?