Friday, 30 September 2011

In Search Of Bloody Mackenzie!

In Search Of Bloody Mackenzie
And The Ghost Of Greyfriars
Barry Van-Asten

Greyfriars Churchyard in Edinburgh has a long history of hauntings
and a walk around its old stones and mausoleums can be a beautiful
and scarey experience! It is said to be haunted by the so called 'Mackenzie Poltergeist' which on occasions can cause cuts and bruises to visitors and other nasty injuries.
I joined a small group of people on the City of the Dead tour of Greyfriars Churchyard (the only way to get into the Covenanters' Prison). We wound our way between the trees and monuments and as we reached the Covenanter's Prison we were ushered into the Black Mausoleum, site of many of the poltergeist attacks!'  We see in the photo the eerie tomb of James Cathcart of Carbieston and below is the great gateway into the Covenanters' Prison.                                    


The mausoleum was a short way down on the left hand side. I took in the surroundings of the tomb and I cannot swear that I stood within a so called 'cold spot', as I try to keep an open mind and nothing short of old Mackenzie himself materialising before my eyes and slapping my face would provide me with enough conclusive evidence of a haunting, but the night was suitably atmospheric and I concluded that there must be something to all the claims of mental distress and physical harm.

The next day I decided to make a second appearance at Greyfriars. After a short visit to the church and a look at the section of remaining 'Flodden Wall', I went back to the Covenanters' Prison (which is always locked, except for access with the City of the Dead tour). In the photo, the Black Mausoleum can be seen half way down the Covenanter's Prison on the left hand side.

It was a wet and cloudy day with short periods of sun shining on the dark stones.

At the Mackenzie tomb with its domed roof, I stopped and stood alone outside the impressive entrance with its black wooden doors. I peered through the little windows in the door and hurled obscenity after obscenity into the mausoleum by way of an introduction! (In the past, children would show off by knocking on the doors of the tomb and shouting 'Bloody Mackenzie! come out if you dare!') If indeed there is a poltergeist or 'demon' connected to the tomb, then he, she or it is very particular with whom they do business! This photo shows the first approach towards Mackenzie's tomb.


The Covenanters' Prison is so named because it was where 'Covenanters' (those who supported the National Covenant signed at Greyfriars in 1638) were held prisoner after the Battle of Bothwell Brig in 1679. Twelve-hundred prisoners were taken to Edinburgh, and of those, four-hundred spent a horrendous four months being held at Greyfriars, awaiting trial. Conditions were appalling with only enough food to keep the poor souls alive and no shelter from the rain and the snow.

Some of the Presbyterian Covenanters died in the prison and others were executed; a small number managed to escape while some others were freed. Sir George Mackenzie 1636-1691 was Lord Advocate and he persecuted the Scottish Covenanters with such horrific torture and inhuman treatment that he became known as 'Bloody Mackenzie'!
The photo shows the impressive entrance to the Mackenzie tomb.

Since the awful atrocity, the churchyard and especially the Covenanters' Prison was known to be very active paranormally and Mackenzie's tomb became the focus for much of the disturbances. But it was in more recent times, in 1999, when things took a turn for the worse!
From the photo, it can be seen that the interior of the tomb was light enough to see within but there was definitely an oppressive atmosphere.


A homeless man, seeking shelter chose to break into Mackenzie's tomb. Finding the coffins, he broke them open and desecrated the corpses in search of valuable items. He fell through the floor of the tomb into a mass of rotting remains and ran screaming from the tomb, frightening a local dog walker. In the photo I was lucky enough to capture this 'old ghoul' outside the Mackenzie tomb doorway.


Since then, 'poltergeist' attacks have escalated and the case is well documented, but whether the mystery of Mackenzie's tomb and the Covenanters' Prison is ever solved or not, we can be sure of one thing, that Greyfriars will continue to be one of the most fascinating and frightening locations in the history of paranormal research!
The photo shows a final glimpse of the famous Mackenzie tomb.


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