Psy­cho spook burnt down my home

I’m on the trail of the mur­der­ous Macken­zie Pol­ter­geist

Chat It's Fate - - Contents - Jan-an­drew Hen­der­son from Ed­in­burgh, Scot­land

Stand­ing in my liv­ing room, I ad­mired the view across Greyfri­ars Ceme­tery. I was lucky enough to live in a flat over­look­ing this an­cient, beau­ti­ful Ed­in­burgh grave­yard – the fa­mous burial place of the Skye ter­rier, Greyfri­ars Bobby, who sat by his mas­ter’s grave for 14 years af­ter his death.

But Greyfri­ars Ceme­tery is also home to a truly fright­en­ing en­tity. The Macken­zie Pol­ter­geist, as it’s known, has phys­i­cally at­tacked many peo­ple. It may even have killed more than one. And I was on its trail… Within the walls of Greyfri­ars Kirk­yard lies the ‘Covenan­ter’s Prison.’ One of the world’s first con­cen­tra­tion camps, it was used to in­car­cer­ate re­bel­lious Scot­tish Pres­by­te­ri­ans known as Covenan­ters in the 17th cen­tury. The King’s Ad­vo­cate, Sir Ge­orge Macken­zie, was one of their most vi­cious per­se­cu­tors, sub­ject­ing his vic­tims to un­speak­able hor­rors and tor­ture.


Now, the prison is just a strip of strag­gly grass lined with mau­soleums, hid­den be­hind high walls and sturdy iron gates. Ge­orge Macken­zie was laid to rest in a mau­soleum next door and it is said his spirit moved into the prison af­ter a home­less man broke into his tomb to sleep there, back in 1999.

Cer­tainly, er­tainly, the ini­tial pol­ter­geist man­i­fes­ta­tions be­gan in 1999. Not long af­ter, City of Ed­in­burgh Coun­cil had the prison gates locked. They didn’t give an of­fi­cial rea­son for those ac­tions but the lo­cals knew ex­actly why.

The evil thing had be­gun at­tack­ing peo­ple.

As s one of those lo­cals, the sto­ries fas­ci­nated me. I formed City of the Dead Tours and per­suaded the coun­cil to give me a key to the prison. ri­son. Armed with mas­sive amounts of in­sur­ance, and more brav­ery than sense, I and a few fel­low guides be­gan to take peo­ple into the prison.

Right ight from the very first tour, our cus­tomers re­ported se­vere hot and cold spots. Some even

ex­pe­ri­enced cuts, bruises, bites and burns – of­ten un­der their clothes clothes. Many asked about un­ex­plained smells and au­di­tory anom­alies - in­clud­ing loud knock­ing noises un­der the ground and in­side the walls of the mau­soleum.


I It’s not un­usual for our cus­tomers to tell us that an un­seen en­tity has whis­pered to them, pulled their hair, grabbed or punched them. Some swear they’ve tem­po­rar­ily been pos­sessed. Oth­ers claim the pol­ter­geist has fol­lowed them and at­tacked them in their own homes.

A An as­ton­ish­ing 180 vic­tims have col­lapsed as a re­sult of these psy­chic at­tacks – and count­ing. What’s more, be­cause these peo­ple are on a ghost tour, each attack has at least a dozen wit­nesses.

I I’ve seen plenty of these in­ci­dents my­self. On one tour, five chil­dren be­gan scream­ing in uni­son.

‘I’m chok­ing, I’m chok­ing!’ one of them gasped as ter­ri­fied par­ents rushed to his aid. The other four kids were cough­ing and grab­bing their necks, too.

I’m nat­u­rally scep­ti­cal, so thought it may have been a prank – un­til I re­alised that none of the kids ac­tu­ally knew each other. On an­other oc­ca­sion, I ac­com­pa­nied a min­is­ter into the prison who was de­ter­mined to ex­or­cise the pol­ter­geist. Armed with a Bi­ble, he tried to ban­ish the en­tity from the Prison. But the bat­tle took a huge toll on him.

‘I have never felt any­thing like this,’ he said the reporter who was with us. ‘I’m afraid I might not sur­vive it.’

Trag­i­cally, he died a few weeks later.

Some­times, though, it seems like the pol­ter­geist might have a sense of hu­mour.

‘Stop talk­ing rub­bish,’ bel­lowed a loud Amer­i­can man, who clearly didn’t be­lieve a word I was telling him about the pol­ter­geist. Then his eyes widened with sur­prise as he was punched to the ground by an invisible force. The en­tire tour party ran off scream­ing in ter­ror, into the night.

‘Cheers, mate,’ I said to the lis­ten­ing spook.

But the truth is, he’s no friend of mine. He’s no friend to any­one.


Af­ter col­lect­ing years’ worth of hand­writ­ten ac­counts and pho­to­graphs, I wrote a book about the pol­ter­geist called The Ghost­that Haunted It­self. Not long af­ter it was pub­lished, my flat was de­stroyed by a flash fire. Ev­ery­thing I owned was de­stroyed - in­clud­ing all the ev­i­dence I’d amassed on the pol­ter­geist. None of the sur­round­ing prop­er­ties were dam­aged and an of­fi­cial cause for the blaze was never es­tab­lished. Un­de­terred, I opened a new of­fice in a for­mer fu­neral both and started again. Now I ask peo­ple to email their ex­pe­ri­ences and pic­tures, in case Macken­zie tries to pull the same trick. I’ll not be out­smarted by some­thing that lives in a tomb.


Scep­tics say it’s all psy­cho­so­matic and I ap­pre­ci­ate their point of view, for I hap­pen to be one my­self. But the sheer vol­ume of ev­i­dence is over­whelm­ing - I’m not in­clined to call thou­sands of eye­wit­nesses liars. Plus, I’ve counted dozens of birds, ly­ing un­marked but dead, in­side the prison. I very much doubt they’re sus­cep­ti­ble to flights of fancy, ex­cuse the pun.

If this en­tity is so dan­ger­ous, you might be won­der­ing why City of the Dead is al­lowed to con­tinue and why peo­ple still come on the tours. The an­swer is sim­ple. Ed­in­burgh Coun­cil are in a bit of a catch 22 sit­u­a­tion, for if they stopped us, they’d have to ad­mit some su­per­nat­u­ral en­tity was happy-slap­ping peo­ple on their turf. Which would make them look more than a bit fool­ish.

And our cus­tomers don’t re­ally be­lieve they’ll encounter a gen­uine para­nor­mal en­tity on a ghost tour in a civ­i­lized western coun­try. Un­til it hap­pens to them.

Peo­ple also want to know why the guides and I put our­selves at such risk – but the thing ab­so­lutely fas­ci­nates us and, let’s face it, it’s a lot more ex­cit­ing than work­ing in a bank. Even so, it can all get a bit too hair-rais­ing for some. My busi­ness part­ner em­i­grated to New Zealand and never came back.

As for me, I don’t be­lieve in God, the Devil, Santa or any­thing else I can’t ac­tu­ally see. But I’ve never heard of any­thing like the things that oc­cur on the tours. Let me put it this way - if the Macken­zie Pol­ter­geist isn’t a real para­nor­mal case, then there’s no such thing.

Not any­where in the world.

The Ghost That Haunted It­self by Jan-an­drew Hen­der­son is avail­able from Ama­zon. If you want to ex­pe­ri­ence the pol­ter­geist for your­self and you’re brave enough to take the tour, go to city­ofthedead­

The prison is full of dead birds

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