Explore Edinburgh's Murky Past

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Denise Scotland on December 14, 2009

Edinburgh dungeons is in the city centre just a stones throw away from the main railway station and it markets itself as a feast of fun with history’s horrible bits and it is an entertaining place to visit to learn about Edinburgh’s murky past. The guided tour of the dungeons takes you through hundreds of years of Scottish history and actors in period dress bring the past to life. Edinburgh certainly has a murky past with witchcraft, body snatchers and many ghosts within the city.

The first part of the tour involves a witchcraft trial, I was the one selected to stand in the dock while an actor boomed accusations at me and I was then sentenced to death. There is a room which has many of torture devices on display which are gruesome to say the least.

Burke and Hare were notorious serial killers who delivered their victims bodies to the surgeon Robert Knox to use them in anatomy theatres as a teaching tool for medical students. The fresher the cadaver the better and they made a fortune selling corpses before they were caught. A trip to an anatomy theatre tells their gruesome tale, if you visit the police museum a few hundred yards up the Royal Mile then there is also a leather notebook on display which is made from the human leather of the killers after they were executed.

The catacombs underneath Edinburgh castle have been recreated as a mirrored maze where you will spend ages wandering around lost trying to find your way out. The stories of William Wallace and cannibal Sawney Beam are also told. The dungeon uses impressive special effects to bring these gruesome exhibits to life and as well as jumping out of your skin you will also have a good giggle.

The one criticism I have of the dungeons is that the tour seemed to be a little rushed, it probably took around an hour in total but it felt like we were herded from room to room a little bit too fast and I would have liked to have lingered and looked at the exhibits for longer. It is also an expensive way to spend an hour if you pay full price for the tickets which is currently £13.95 for an adult admission but there are often vouchers available giving reduced entrance fees and if you book online for a quiet time of day then the prices are also lower.

If you are a tourist you will learn a lot about Edinburgh’s history from a tour around the dungeons. If you are a local then you will be familiar with all of the stories told but will still enjoy your trip. The actors at the various different rooms of the exhibit were enthusiastic and really helped to bring the stories alive. It is not a place to take the very young or those who are very timid but it is a place where most adults will have a lot of fun.

Edinburgh Dungeon
31 Market Street
Edinburgh, Scotland
+44 131 240 1000


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