Sunday, 1 May 2016

Mary King's Close, Edinburgh

Uw aye! We're just back from a wee trip to the land beyond Hadrian's Wall. Locating ourselves in the festival city of Edinburgh we managed to squeeze in a lot during one week. A tour of underground Edinburgh was a top priority on my list.

Now, if you haven't been to Edinburgh and you are a fan of Halloween and spookiness, well, you are definitely missing out. Sad to say we did not take advantage of every ghost tour on offer (and there are lots!) but we did take the tour of Mary King's Close, which was really interesting.

Our costumed guide, Agnes, brought our group through a sampling of the rooms in buildings built over then sealed up well over a century ago. We were told tales of plague, murder and given a good understanding of exactly how cramped, dark, dank, and smelly these 'streets' in Edinburgh's old town once were. Although there's not a lot to see other than the brick and stone walls touches of period furniture and various wax figures and tableaux do help flesh things out.

As do the cries of "Gardez loo!" which you will hear during your tour. This cry was heard twice a day in old Edinburgh. Coinciding with the church bells it was the only time you were allowed to empty your chamber pots...into the street. Everyone. At the same time.

Now, I didn't find this tour particularly frightening but it was certainly atmospheric and rather fascinating to be in the actual spaces that people once lived in and walked through. The room that thrilled me most was the one that still contains the grinding stone for making flour. You can also see bits of horse hair poking out from inside the crumbling lime plaster still clinging to spots on the walls and propped up ceiling. This domicile is comprised of three rooms, the smallest of which is thought to have been a bedroom. And that is the room which currently holds an assortment of dolls and toys people have left behind for Annie, the ghost of a little girl who died of plague centuries ago....

The hole in the floor is part of the grinding stone