Skip to content

Greyfriars Kirkyard: Edinburgh’s Haunted Cemetery


Edinburgh, a city steeped in history and mystery, boasts a treasure trove of fascinating attractions. Among them, Greyfriars Kirkyard stands out as a place where history, legend, and a touch of the supernatural intertwine. This ancient cemetery, nestled in the heart of the city, has earned a reputation for being one of the most haunted places in Scotland. With its dramatic architecture, poignant stories, and lingering whispers of the past, Greyfriars Kirkyard beckons visitors to explore its secrets and delve into its eerie charm.

Table of Contents

History of Greyfriars Kirkyard

Greyfriars Kirkyard, established in 1562, boasts a rich and complex history that reflects the tumultuous times of Edinburgh’s past. Originally known as the “Greyfriars’ Burial Ground,” it was initially intended to serve the Greyfriars’ Monastery, a Franciscan friary that once stood on the site. The cemetery played a significant role in the Scottish Reformation, particularly during the Covenanters’ struggle against the rule of Charles II.

The Covenanters, a group of devout Protestants who advocated for religious freedom, were fiercely persecuted during the 17th century. Many Covenanters found refuge in Greyfriars Kirkyard, which became a sanctuary for those seeking to worship freely. The Covenanters’ Monument, a towering obelisk erected in 1845, stands as a powerful symbol of their resilience and unwavering faith.

The monument, crafted from granite, features an inscription commemorating the Covenanters who lost their lives during the brutal persecutions. The towering structure acts as a reminder of the historical and religious significance of Greyfriars Kirkyard. This monument is a testament to the courage and sacrifice of the Covenanters and a poignant reminder of the struggles for religious freedom that shaped Scotland’s history.

Notable Residents of Greyfriars Kirkyard

Greyfriars Kirkyard is the final resting place of many notable figures, including historical personalities, literary giants, and individuals who left their mark on Edinburgh’s past. Among the most famous residents is Greyfriars Bobby, a loyal Skye Terrier who became a legend for his unwavering devotion to his master.

John Gray, a police officer, was buried in Greyfriars in 1858. His faithful companion, Bobby, remained by his grave for 14 years, refusing to leave his master’s side. Bobby’s story captured the hearts of the city and beyond, and he became a beloved symbol of loyalty and devotion. Today, a statue of Bobby stands near his master’s grave, a testament to the extraordinary bond between man and dog.

Another notable resident of Greyfriars Kirkyard is Sir Walter Scott, the renowned Scottish novelist and poet, who is buried in the cemetery. Scott, known for his historical novels like “Ivanhoe” and “Rob Roy,” played a significant role in shaping Scottish literature and culture. His connection to Greyfriars Kirkyard adds another layer of literary interest to this already fascinating place.

Ghosts & Legends of Greyfriars Kirkyard

Greyfriars Kirkyard is not just a place of history; it’s also a place where legends and ghost stories thrive. The cemetery’s unique architecture, shadowed corners, and chilling tales have fueled its reputation as one of the most haunted places in Edinburgh.

The most famous ghost story associated with Greyfriars Kirkyard is that of Greyfriars Bobby. While Bobby’s story is one of unwavering loyalty, many believe that his ghost still roams the cemetery, seeking out his beloved master. Some visitors claim to have seen a shadowy figure resembling a dog near the monument, while others report feeling a distinct sense of presence near Bobby’s grave.

Another haunting tale that resonates within the walls of Greyfriars Kirkyard is the story of the Mackenzie Poltergeist. This infamous spirit is said to be connected to George Mackenzie, a 17th-century lawyer and politician who is buried in the cemetery. Mackenzie was a ruthless figure who was responsible for the persecution of the Covenanters. The spirit associated with his name is known for its mischievous and sometimes malevolent nature.

Visiting Greyfriars Kirkyard

Greyfriars Kirkyard is a captivating destination for history buffs, ghost hunters, and anyone seeking a unique and memorable experience in Edinburgh. The cemetery is open to the public daily, offering a glimpse into the city’s past and a chance to explore its haunted corners.

Visitors can access Greyfriars Kirkyard through the main entrance on Greyfriars Bobby’s Road. There are no admission fees, although donations are always welcome to support the upkeep of the cemetery. It is recommended to visit during daylight hours for the best experience and to ensure a safe exploration.


Is Greyfriars Kirkyard really haunted?

Whether or not Greyfriars Kirkyard is truly haunted is a matter of personal belief. There are many stories and legends associated with the cemetery, and some people have reported experiencing paranormal activity. The cemetery’s dark history, its dramatic architecture, and the stories that have been passed down through generations contribute to its eerie atmosphere and have fueled the belief that it is haunted.

What are the best times to visit?

Greyfriars Kirkyard is a popular tourist destination, so it’s best to avoid visiting during peak hours, such as weekends or holidays. The early morning or late afternoon may offer a more peaceful and less crowded experience.

Are there any restrictions on photography?

Photography is generally permitted within Greyfriars Kirkyard, but it’s important to be respectful of the cemetery’s sanctity. It’s advisable to avoid taking photographs of headstones or monuments without permission, and to be mindful of other visitors.

Are there any events or activities held at Greyfriars Kirkyard?

Greyfriars Kirkyard hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including ghost tours, historical reenactments, and cultural performances. It’s a good idea to check the cemetery’s website or local tourism information for updates on upcoming events.

What are other nearby attractions?

Greyfriars Kirkyard is located near many other attractions in Edinburgh, including the Edinburgh Old Town, the Royal Mile, and the National Museum of Scotland.


Greyfriars Kirkyard, a place where history, legend, and mystery converge, offers a unique glimpse into Edinburgh’s fascinating past. From the poignant stories of its notable residents to the chilling tales of its ghosts, Greyfriars Kirkyard is a place that captures the imagination and leaves a lasting impression on those who visit. Whether you’re intrigued by the history of the Covenanters, the enduring loyalty of Greyfriars Bobby, or the eerie whispers of the Mackenzie Poltergeist, Greyfriars Kirkyard provides a captivating experience that blends historical significance with a touch of the supernatural.

If you find yourself in Edinburgh, be sure to add Greyfriars Kirkyard to your itinerary. Wander through its shadowed corners, explore its intricate monuments, and soak in the atmosphere of this extraordinary place. You might just find yourself drawn into a story that transcends the boundaries of time and leaves you with a sense of awe and wonder.