Greyfriars Kirkyard: Ghosts, Cages, and Bones, Oh My!

currently playing on my iPod: Le Temps Presse by Les Shades

This is my first post in over a year. A year. Wow. If you care to know why, see the note below. If you don’t, I don’t blame you a bit. Your time is precious.


On my first trip to Scotland, Greyfriars Kirkyard snagged my a good chunk of my heart and soul. It’s an old cemetery, full of history, eroding stone skulls, and if you’re lucky, sharp bones protruding through the damp grass.

No really.


When I toured the kirkyard, our guide told us about how many bodies were buried in Greyfriars. 40,000. Yup. You read me right. During the plague, that joint was packed. Supposedly when it rains, shards of those unfortunate souls poke through the black dirt and jab unsuspecting passersby. *shivers* It could be a fun Scottish thing to do to tourists. Or it could be true. Isn’t it always more fun to assume the worst could happen?


The tombstones in the place are enough to give you serious willies regardless of bone shard issues. Some carved skulls appear to bleed white lines of tears and blackened cherub faces are the stuff of gothic awesomeness.


And the awesome doesn’t stop there. Many important folks’ skeletons reside in Greyfriars. Tutors to kings. Rebellious men who led armies in the name of their beliefs. Edinburgh residents who challenged the English’s attempts to bully them about. One of the most interesting historical points in the cemetery are the mortsafe cages.


Men who ran Greyfriars built barred cages over graves beginning in the early 18th century to ward off the Resurrection Men. These guys would dig up bodies and trade them for cash to the medical students in Edinburgh. The researchers didn’t ask a lot of questions. They needed corpses to learn, and in that time, it wasn’t something with which the general public was okey-dokey.

If you’re curious about Greyfriars, take a deek (Scots slang for peek) around the Interwebs. It will make you shiver in the most delightful ways. Enjoy!


*Now for the reason I’ve been away…I linked up with a fab group of local writers and focused on developing those relationships. Something had to give in the ol’ schedule. The blog was that thing. I have all my ducks in a row now and am excited to begin blogging again!




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