The Black Mausoleum

January 31, 2018

THE BLACK MAUSOLEUM                          

Located in the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town is Greyfriars Kirkyard. (cemetery) 

Edinburgh Walking Photography Tour Greyfriars Kirkyard

Greyfriars has been a burial ground since the early 16th century and has the distinction of being the final resting place of such notable persons as; Sir Walter Scots Father, William McGonnegal, Scotlands Worst Poet, George Heriot, founder of the school that is adjacent to the Kirkyard & James Craig, designer of Edinburghs New Town.

Not forgetting one of the most popular residents, the Skye Terrier, Bobby. You can read more about Greyfriars Bobby in my previous post.

Another who is infamously interred at Greyfriars is the Lord Advocate Sir George Mackenzie.Sir George Mackenzie is credited with writing one of the first Scottish novels & of even the occasional defence of women during the witch trials.But those deeds were not what earned him the name of Bloody (Bluidy) Mackenzie.It was what he did to the Covenanters in 1679.
The Covenanters were Presbyterian Militants who fought the sanctions imposed upon their religious practices by King Charles II, despite the National Covenant that was signed four decades earlier, giving them allowances.
After the Battle of Bothwell Bridge, 1200 surviving Covenanters who refused to swear allegiance to King Charles II were taken prisoner.
Labelled as traitors, these men & women were held at what was then the Inner Greyfriars Yard, about 3 acres, with high walls & one gate.

Sir George Mackenzie, Lord Advocate at that time was responsible for their fates & he castigated them to the full extent of the law.

Those who did not succumb to the malnutrition, the plague & pestilence associated with concentration camps, the physical abuse, were given the choice of swearing an oath of loyalty to the King that some Covenanters called 'The Black Bond'.... or execution on the gallows at Grassmarket.
Months later, those that remained got their judicial fate, Transportation.

It is said that after 5 months of imprisonment, only 250 Covenanters survived to face Lord Advocate Sir George Mackenzie. In a tragic twist of irony, the ship that was to transport the remaining prisoners, sank off the Orkneys. Only 60 or so of the chained men & women survived.

For his persecution of the Covenanters, Sir George Mackenzie was excommunicated a year later. He had been described as having a violent temper, an insolent approach & a wickedly vicious tongue.
His vindictive nature & desire for self aggrandisement was revealed in his torture & theatrical display of torturous devices on prisoners.

He died in 1691 & was himself buried at Greyfriars Kirkyard. In what was to be known as The Black Mausoleum.
Only a few meters from the remaining Covenanters Prison. (lane)

Bloody Mackenzie passed into legend. The one that gets told on windy, dark nights. The kind that inspires brave children to knock on the doors of The Black Mausoleum & shout 'Bluidy Mackenzie, come oot if ye dar!'

Edinburgh Walking Photography Tours Black Mausoleum Greyfriars

And legend he might have stayed if it wasnt for a homeless man on a cold night in the late 1990's.

The story goes; Desperately seeking shelter for the night, the man broke into Mackenzies resting place. Bored, or looking for something of value he smashed open some of the coffins & fell through the floor.
He fell into what was once a mass grave for plague victims. Surrounded by the dead & decaying bodies, he ran screaming into the streets.

Within days, witnesses had reported feeling an intense cold followed by a gust of air that nearly knocked them over & one woman was found unconscious by the Mausoleum with bruising around her neck.
Several visitors to the Kirkyard began to faint & those who visited the crypts now standing on Covenanters Lane, started to experience worse.

Covenanters Lane is now locked & you can only wander down there on an official Tour.
City of the Dead is one such tour.

The founder of this tour company, Jan-Andrew Henderson has studied the Mackenzie Poltergeist for over 10 years & has more than 75 pages of witness accounts of hauntings & paranormal attacks at Greyfriars Kirkyard.

Because Bloody Mackenzie doesn't just huff & puff & scream 'boo!', at you.

He bites & pinches; Scratches, chokes & burns. Spreading his malevolence like a fog across the moor.

And one day, when I gather my courage, I will visit Covenanter Lane in the dark myself.



Most of the resources I used have been provided throughout the blog as links.
One that I have not but is fascinating reading is below.
The Reformation

Greyfriars Bobby

January 14, 2018

Let his Loyalty and Devotion be a lesson to us All.

This year is the 146 year anniversary of Greyfriars Bobby's death. For those who are unfamiliar with the story, you can read the romantic version here.

Edinburgh Photo Walking Tour Greyfriars Bobby

To recap; Greyfriars Bobby was a Skye Terrier who refused to leave the side of his master after he was buried at Greyfriars Kirkyard, until he himself died on the 14th January, 1872.

He captured the hearts of the people of Edinburgh with his devotion. The people fed him & his license was paid for by the Lord Provost of Edinburgh. The collar he was given is now in the Museum of Edinburgh.

When he died he was buried inside the gates of Greyfriars Kirkyard himself, not far from his masters grave.

Edinburgh Photo Walking Tour Greyfriars Bobby Grave

Visitors to the Bobby are encouraged to take pictures & selfies with him but it has never been a tradition to rub his nose.
Rubbing his nose wont bring you luck, he isnt a genie. It does damage him & it is something that the people of Edinburgh feel strongly about. Enough to create several videos & PSA's like this one here.

Just enjoy the story, wander into the Greyfriars Pub, have a pint & venture into the Kirkyard (cemetary) 

I say 'venture' because not even Bobby's presence there can eliminate some of the darker souls buried there. 

Rumours & stories abound of physical hauntings of Greyfriars Kirkyard, but that story is another chapter of Edinburgh.

Bella @ Photo Tours Edinburgh


October 01, 2017

The Palace of HolyroodHouse, commonly referred to as Holyrood Palace, is one of the locations that we visit on the Photo Tours Walk.

Photo Walking Tours Edinburgh Holyrood

The Palace of Holyrood House is Her Majesty the Queen's official residence in Scotland. Standing at the end of Edinburgh's historic Royal Mile, the Palace is the home of Scottish Royal history. Best known as the home of Mary, Queen of Scots, the palace was the setting for many dramatic episodes during her short reign.

Whilst we dont go into the Palace on this tour, some beautiful location shots can be taken such as the one above. 

Holyrood Palace is worth coming back to view if you have some time. 

Visitors can explore 14 magnificent historic state apartments, the ruins of the 12th century Holyrood Abbey & the royal gardens.

The entrance fee is only £12.50 to walk through the state rooms and the Gardens. If you include a look through the Queens Gallery it is an additional £5.00.

Sadly, there is no separate ticket to walk through the gardens and the Abbey, which given that there are no photographs allowed inside the Palace, would make a second walk through the Abbey, worthwhile.

Edinburgh Photo Walking Tour Holyrood Palace

Holyrood House is nestled at the base of Salisbury Crags and was built adjacent to the Augustinian Abbey which has been standing since 1128. Given its direct and short line to Edinburgh Castle, the Abbey became an important administrative centre.

The ruins of the Abbey still hold a mystical beauty.

Edinburgh has such a rich, photogenic history. 
Let us show you some.

Bella @ Photo Tours Edinburgh

Ceud mìle fàilte (a hundred thousand welcomes)

September 18, 2017


But Edinburgh is a mad god's dream. Fitful and dark,
unseizable in Leith and wildered by the Forth. But irresistibly at last, cleaving to sombre heights of passionate imagining, till stonily, from soaring battlements; Earth eyes Eternity.

- Hugh MacDiarmid (1892-1978)


Ceud mìle fàilte
(a hundred thousand welcomes)

This is just one the poems that is scribed into the wall of the New Scottish Parliament building, in Edinburgh, at the bottom of the Royal Mile.
And for me, it describes the passion that I have for Edinburgh perfectly.

Last June I visited Scotland for the first time & I loved it, particularly Edinburgh.

I am Australian born, however, I come from a very mixed heritage family. Italian / Dutch on my mothers side and Scottish / Irish on my fathers. 
For the first time in my 39 years, I felt connected to my fathers side. The paternal line, being Scottish, had sadly passed before I was born.

Following some minor success with my photography, both local and international awards plus publications. I knew that Edinburgh & the rest of the United Kingdom would be culturally rich and supportive of the arts.
I got home, and immediately booked my one way ticket. Home was Melbourne, Australia.

A year after my first visit, I returned to Edinburgh.

In my 2 months here, I have met some fantastic people, created a home and through the assistance and partnership of these people, we have built a new photography based business; Photo Tours Edinburgh

What had captured their attention and inspired the idea behind Photo Tours Edinburgh was my bright, shiny enthusiasm and excitement for everything I saw here. 

We felt that together, we could show you the highlights of Edinburgh in a way that you may not have seen before. 

During the tour which is very much a workshop, we'll discuss an approach to photography, technical advice, composition rules that we'll use to capture our images and the historical significance of the locations we visit.

This is a fun, practical tour / workshop without the technical jargon that will be a base for you to create a collection of images that capture the atmosphere and features of this historical city.

Below are some of the images that have been taken along the walking tour route that we will show you.

Edinburgh from Calton Hill

Edinburgh from Calton Hill

Bidh mi 'gad fhaicinn
(I'll be seeing you)



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More of Bella McRae's work, your intrepid guide through Edinburgh, can be found at Bella Eve Art