Seeing the Humor in the Haunted Edinburgh Vaults

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Have you ever been to Edinburgh, Scotland? 

There are lots of opportunities to get creeped out there, what with Edinburgh Castle, Greyfriars Kirkyard, and the Edinburgh Vaults, to name a few.

My dad took us on a trip in the summer of 2001, and it was like a dream come true. I had always wanted to go to Scotland!  

Edinburgh 2001

We traipsed through the city like happy little beans, seeing all the castles, parades, churches, cemeteries, and ghost tours we could fit in before we then went on excursions through the countryside, such as to Loch Ness and Oban. I absolutely loved the city, the atmosphere, and the time with my folks. I'd love to do a further write-up of some of the spooky places we visited, but for now, I'll focus on the Edinburgh Vaults.

The Edinburgh Vaults were built sometime in the late 1700s as chambers beneath the South Bridge that were used for storage, workshops, and space for businesses in the South Bridge district. At one point cobblers, smelters, cutlers, milliners and other legitimate trades all operated businesses there.  But the vaults weren't impervious to water and were eventually abandoned by those businesses. After they cleared out, certain sections of the vaults had become like a slum, inhabited by the city's shadier side. Robbers, murderers, and brothels all plied their trade in the vaults. It is said even body snatchers operated there! 

There was poor sanitation and airflow, making it a hotbed of disease. Eventually, water seepage meant this barely habitable area became completely uninhabitable, and the vaults were abandoned to time until one day in 1985 when excavation of the area brought their existence to the public eye once again. And in 2001, my Dad bought us tickets for the ghost tour of the Edinburgh Vaults.

Back to the present day...

I saw the following bit of comedy come up on my newsfeed last week and just about died laughing because it brought my memories of our tour of the vaults right back: Scottish comedian Eleanor Morton has done a send-up of a bored tour guide in the Edinburgh Vaults. Check it out (with apologies for the language):

If you've ever been to the vaults, then I bet you howled! Thankfully, our tour guide was not anything like "Craig," but I can appreciate the joke.

All joking aside, if you can ever get to Edinburgh and tour the vaults, I highly recommend it for creep factor. I remember feeling quite claustrophobic down there, which added to the eerie experience. They are like horrible labyrinths, dank and damp and musty, the kind of place your imagination can grow wild with fear as you tour with a hopefully less disinterested tour guide than the one portrayed by Ms. Morton. 

Our tour guide did a spectacular job keeping the suspense going. I remember in one of the vaults, I got a sickly feeling that made the hairs on my arms stand up on end, and I'm not sure if it was just the tour guide's influence when she mentioned that in one of the rooms, women in particular were attacked, seemingly by a nasty, male spirit, or if something else caused Dad and I to get our hackles up, but my Dad got pretty protective, like he wasn't taking any chances letting me be last out of that room. 

The sickly feeling continued, and I had to do a clearing afterwards. And by "clearing," I mean that when we got to the end of the tour, I told my dad we needed to find the nearest pub for a beer and some fresh air. 🍻

I will probably never go down there again if I get to Edinburgh in the future (once was enough, thank you very much!) but if you haven't been, I recommend you check out the Edinburgh Vaults. Let us know your experiences in Edinburgh, in the vaults or otherwise, in the comments — or better yet, submit a spooky report here

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