The land of a former Franciscan monastery destroyed in the reformation was given to the city by Mary Queen of Scots in 1562 to act as an overflow cemetery for the rapidly overflowing Cannongate cemetery and would serve as such for the next 350 years. The Kirk itself was added later in 1620 and has an eccentric design based on the monastery that preceded it. The graveyard's estimated 100,000 inhabitants include the world's worst poet William McGonagall, John Porteous the brutal captain of the guard who was lynched by the people of the city, and James Craig architect of the New Town amongst others.
In 1638, the kirkyard was the sight of the signing of the National Covenant by 5000 people opposed to English reform of the church. 1200 Covenanters captured after the battle of Bothwell Bridge in 1679 where held in appalling conditions in a makeshift prison in the corner of the Kirkyard where the 1706 Martyrs' Monument now stands. Many died there, many more were executed, and the rest were put on a transport ship that sank off the Orkney coast. The Judge responsible for their sentencing George 'Bloody' McKenzie lies in a tomb nearby and is said to haunt the cemetery at night.
It was, however, the death of a little known police officer by the name of John Gray that would put this place on the map, for after his internment, his loyal Skye Terrier would keep a vigil over his grave for the next fourteen years. Adopted by the locals, who gave it food and a collar, this dog was later immortalised in a sentimental novel which was later filmed by the Disney corporation as "Greyfriar's Bobby". John Gray's grave, with its nice new gravestone, stands near the main entrance. Off in one corner, in un-consecrated ground, you can find the grave of Bobby himself; a life size statue of the dog can also be found out front.
The body-snatchers that once haunted this area are long gone, leaving the peace only to be disturbed by the occasional tour group and, of course, the bloody judge. Worth looking out for are a section of the original Flodden Wall and a couple of 'mortislocks' cages designed to keep body-snatchers at bay.
Results 1-3of 3 Reviews
by Cindy Grant
June 25, 2011
From journal The Scotland Ghostour
by Sammy Lagios
Kineta, Attica, Greece
August 25, 2010
April 25, 2002
From journal The Strange Case of Auld Reekie