Along Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, buried beneath what is now the City Chambers, lies a length of narrow alleyway (a close), lined with the remnants of dark empty houses and rooms whose floorboards are still intact after hundreds of years. If you peer into some of the doors left open by the tour company, you can see for yourself. Illuminated with a soft glow and coated in gritty dust, the close is thick with an eerie silence.
Sources suggest that the close’s namesake, Mary King, was a prominent business woman, an inhabitant of the close; or that the close may have been named after “the property owner and advocate to Mary Queen of Scots, Alexander King, whose daughter was also called Mary.” Somes tales say that the area was boarded up to contain the spread of the plague in the 1640s; victims were essentially left to die within the quarrantined area.
Whether these accounts are accurate is not entirely clear, unless you get a chance to visit The Real Mary King’s Close, where you’ll hear the facts and the fictions spun by costumed guides. Admittedly, some of the video presentations are hokey, but are informative nonetheless. Of course, these subterranean spaces are said to be haunted – one room in particular is home to a lonely little ghost girl, for whom tourists leave tributes and tokens.
This is easily one of the creepiest places I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. I’d love to go back and haunt it as a tourist again.♦