The Vaults consist of over 200 chambers built three-storeys deep into the 19 stone arches of Edinburgh’s South Bridge. Many residents’ homes had to be demolished during the bridge’s construction in 1785, making this an unpopular project from the offset. The first person due to cross the bridge died the day before the opening ceremony – so was carried over in a coffin! After this, many declared the bridge to be cursed.
Perhaps it was, for although the bridge’s underground network of vaulted rooms was rented out to merchants and craftsmen, frequent flooding and damp conditions forced most out within a decade. Instead, the desperate and dangerous moved in, filling the arches with taverns, dens, gambling, prostitution and corpse-smuggling.
In the 1850s, the vaults were filled in and forgotten about until the 1980s, when the rubble was extracted and its history revealed. Organised tour groups were established shortly after and since then, the Vaults have provided so many paranormal experiences that they’re now regarded as one of Scotland’s most haunted locations.