Scottish Hauntings – Greyfriars Kirkyard

The idyllic city of Edinburgh has been the centre of many things. Writers, poets, and of course Harry Potter. Many believe it’s where Charles Dickens gained his inspiration for the character Ebenezer Scrooge. A beautiful city steeped in rich history and above all things, many wonderful, happy stories. However, those who know the city well, will also speak of its haunted happenings and gruesome history. Take for example the underground walkways. Once down underneath the city, it is possible to imagine the lewd tales that took place. Murder, gambling, and women going missing. The stories above ground level are even more intriguing.  

Greyfriars has many stories surrounding it. One of my childhood favourites is Greyfriars Bobby. John Gray owned a Skye Terrier and named him Bobby. Mr. Gray was a policeman who walked the streets of Edinburgh keeping them safe at night. Sadly, John Gray passed away leaving behind a very faithful dog who stayed by his grave for fourteen years until his own death. The locals soon affectionately known him as Greyfriars Bobby and many books and subsequently films were made surrounding Bobby’s life. Maybe Bobby stayed so long by his masters grave because he didn’t want to miss him when he visited? Perhaps even from beyond the grave, we can still be cared for by a loving spirit.

With so much history and literature created and inspired in Edinburgh, it is no surprise when students of literature stay long after their degree is completed. Drawn to this literary hub was Ravi. Ravi moved from Yorkshire to Edinburgh to start his degree. After graduating with first-class honours in English Literature at Edinburgh University he stayed after graduating in 1998. Taking a job at a small publishing company, Ravi moved into a new home with another junior. It was a perfect situation for the young graduate.

The location was ideal as Ravi didn’t live too far away from his new job. Greyfriars Kirkyard, a cemetery dating back to the 1560s was the quickest and safest way to cut through when coming out late from work. After passing through the graveyard it would bring him out onto the Grassmarket. From there it would only be a few minutes until he was home. This was a route he would often take, jumping over the cemetery fence and staying close to the graves and trees so not to be caught. His housemate often asked Ravi if he was not scared of seeing ghosts or getting caught. Of course, this was always laughed off. Ravi stated to me multiple times how safe he felt passing through Greyfriars Kirkyard. Almost as if something was keeping him safe.

That was until one night in August 1998. Another late night saw him leave the publishers at around 9pm. He knew the work needed to be edited and took it home to look over. Carrying the manuscript, Ravi was engrossed in the story. He hardly noticed the warm August air become cold as the daylight faded into night. Realising he would soon need to climb a fence he tucked the manuscript into the back of his jeans. Just as he prepared to jump over the fence, he spotted the groundskeeper doing his patrol. Ravi hid behind a bench until the graveyard was clear.  Once again, he prepared himself only to stop a moment later.

A figure of a woman walked towards him. Calm at first, then she started running. Unsure what to do, Ravi crouched down once more behind the bench. Looking up the woman had disappeared. He grabbed onto the metal spikes ready to run through the graveyard and finally get home. Only to see a man in Victorian attire lunging towards him. The man faded as soon as he reached the fence. In that moment a taxi was driving slowly down the street. Thankfully it stopped when Ravi flagged it down. Feeling uneasy the short journey was in complete silence. Almost as if the taxi driver knew what Ravi had just witnessed. Once home he told his housemate about his paranormal experience. 

“Are you sure it wasn’t fog or mist? It gets like that sometimes.”

“No, I’m pretty sure it was a woman followed by a man.”

“Did you see their faces?”

“Sort of, they were smiling, but only slightly. It was weird, I felt freaked out but not threatened.”

“You’re probably just tired Ravi, you should get some sleep.”

The haunting seemingly tire him out and no later than 10pm Ravi was asleep. 

3.33am he woke to a loud scream. Checking his housemate was ok they looked out onto the street. No one was there.

“Did you hear that as well?”

“Yeah sounds like it came from Greyfriars.”

A few minutes later ambulances and police cars quietly left the kirkyard. The next morning in work the two juniors learnt of an arrest. Two men had been waiting for people to walk through the cemetery before stealing money and valuables. They had started around 8.30pm that night. Frustrated by the lack of people walking through they continued until the earlier hours of the morning. Unfortunately, James King was walking through the cemetery just after 2.30am after leaving his girlfriend’s house. Much like Ravi he jumped over the fence and walked as quickly as possible to get out of the kirkyard. James was almost out of Greyfriars Kirkyard when he was approached by two large men. He was asked for his money but when James refused, the two men began to attack. Leaving James bloody with multiple stab wounds, the two men left with his wallet. The wallet contained five pounds and a picture of his girlfriend.

Left fighting for his life, James shouted as loud as possible, but this only descended from his mouth in a crackled whisper. Around 3am the groundskeeper left to do his nightly check. It wasn’t long before finding James in an unconscious state, hardly breathing. He rushed back to call the police and an ambulance. The paramedics did everything they could, but before James arrived into the hospital that night he was pronounced dead, at 3.33am.

Had the ghostly apparitions tried to warn James as well? Maybe in a frightened state from seeing the ghouls, he rushed through the kirkyard and didn’t hear the footsteps of the men following him. The taxi driver who took Ravi home that night became a key witness.

He told the police that ‘for some reason each one of my jobs that night had me passing by Greyfriars. I must have picked up at least fifteen people from around 8pm around 2.30am. That’s when I saw James, I slowed down to see if he wanted a lift but before I could get there, he jumped the fence and started almost running. If I had known what was going to happen I would have shouted to him to jump in.”


Greyfriars Kirkyard is just one of the stories included within the Truth or Scare anthology. Why not download the eBook from Amazon today and learn if this story was Truth or Scare? Also available on Kindle Unlimited.

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