Psycho spook burnt down my home
I’m on the trail of the murderous Mackenzie Poltergeist
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 cityofthedeadtours.com
The prison is full of dead birds