When in Edinburgh, there's one thing you really have to do: A ghost tour. Well, they call them ghost stories, but what you need to know is they are all true (or at least kind of trueish)! Today, we were lucky and one of Edinburgh's ghosts (the man with the blue cape in the picture below) decided to tell us some terrifying things about what is now a touristy city.
By Kim Laura Kühne
As you can imagine, there are loads of tales about Edinburgh. And all of them of course worth telling. Sadly, I can't tell you all of them, so I have to pick one. You have already heard about one of my favourites of Burke and Hare. So why not one about a famous lady this time? We go back to the early Eighteenth century, where an innocent girl was doing her job - selling fish. You might wonder, why should a fishwife become famous? Well, obviosuly not because of her job, but because of what happened to her. The lady, let's call her Maggie Dickson, was pregnant. Not such a big thing nowadays but back then a real scandal, as Maggie wasn't married! And it got even worse when Maggie gave birth to her child who was dead. According to her the child was stillborn, but no one else believed her that. So, she was accused of murdering her own baby! Yeah, you know what's coming now, sentenced to death. And as we are back in the Eighteenth century it had to be a public hanging. And this was the end of Maggie Dickson. Not! Her body was in a wooden coffin on the way to the graveyard. Just when there were about to arrive, they heard knocking. It was Maggie, waking up from the dead! How is this possible? We don't know. But in Maggies case a good sign, as she got a full pardon. A bad one for future criminals as the sentence was changed from then on to "hanged till dead". That's the story of Maggie Dickson or Half Hangit Maggie, which she was called after that.
Instead of another story, I want to tell you now a very true fact about Edinburgh. Back in the 19th Century, when they were building Waverly Station they found a number of human bones. Do you have any idea where they come from? If we go further back in time, there was no Princes Street Gardens. Instead, Edinburgh had in this place a lake called Nor or North Loch. Don't think of the Nor Loch as something nice like Loch Lomond or Loch Ness, the Nor Loch used to be something really disgusting. Back in the Middle Ages, not only were the streets of Edinburgh full of different kinds of waste, so was the Nor Loch. This terrible smell gave this nowadays wonderful city the name Auld Reekie, which means old and smelly. Apart from being the place for trash the Loch had a lot of other roles in this period of time. The most famous one: Witch doucking. This was a simple test to figure out if someone was a witch or not. The suspect had her arms crossed and her thumps tied to her toes. Then the possible witch was kicked into the Nor Loch. If she sank and drowned, everything would be fine as it proved she was innocent, but she was of course dead. If they could find her body she would get a Christian burial. If the suspected witch was unlucky and all the waste made her float up and survive the drowning, she was found guilty and burned at the stake on Castlehill. And this is the horrible background for the bones which were found were nowadays Waverly Station is and the wonderful Princes Street Gardens.
I'm sure you have heard of other stories about Edinburgh, which is your favourite one? I personally can't get enough of those kind of tales. Are there any about your city? Tell us the stories and we'll see if your town is scarier than Auld Reekie.
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