Lurking beneath Edinburgh's Cowgate area under the South Bridge is a network of subterranean vaults, believed to harbour a large number of restless spirits. Shifting, dark shadows, inexplicable drops in temperature and sensations of being touched, grabbed and even burned have been described by visitors to some of the vaults.
A high-profile scientific investigation was held there in 2001, which seemed to show a direct correlation between the haunted reputations of some of the vaults and the number of paranormal experiences recorded there by a team of unsuspecting individuals, who acted as 'guinea pigs' and were given no information as to any previous ghostly comings and goings in specific vaults.
At about the same time that the South Bridge was built, in the late 18 th century, the area directly beneath was excavated to accommodate a growing population in a series of underground rooms, secreted below the inner arches of the bridge itself. The outer ones were intended for use as shops, effectively making the area Edinburgh's first shopping mall.
Flooding eventually caused some of the vaults to be abandoned and the commercial tenants were replaced by poor families, who had to live without running water, light and space and were plagued by disease and criminal activity. The area is very likely to have been a rich source of victims for the corpse-selling murderers, Burke and Hare.
Some years later the vaults were filled in, but their rediscovery and excavation in 1988 rendered them interesting first in terms of historical research, and shortly afterwards as a Mecca for ghost hunters.
A malevolent killer, a poor tradesman, laughing children and a sickly old man are just a few of the ghosts mentioned by visitors when recounting their experiences in the vaults. Some seem to appear directly, others on photographs and yet others in poltergeist form, though many of these visitations could quite easily be attributed to the effects of the sinister, miserable appearance of the vaults on the psychological state of their subjects.
Written by larapiegeler.
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