Haunted Britain: Edinburgh Vaults
Each month, comedian Barry Dodds and his sidekick Rebecca Kirk spend a night in a different haunted location.
Kirk’s Paranormal Investigation Report:
9pm: The night air is fresh as we meet Claudia from Mercat Tours at Edinburgh’s old market square. After a short walk to the tenement-flanked South Bridge, she unlocks the heavy door into the vaults, revealing a stone staircase winding down into utter darkness.
Dodds chooses this exact moment to quietly admit, ‘I’ve had a paranormal experience down here before.’
As white as a sheet, I turn my gaze from the darkened abyss to him and mutter, ‘Perhaps wait until we get out of here to tell me about that one.’
9.35pm: We begin our slow descent into the oppressive vaults. Goodbye starry sky! Goodbye fresh air! Goodbye normality!
So much history
9.40pm: The peaty, damp corridor floors are uneven, the stone ceilings low. We pass several small chambers as we edge down the hall by candlelight.
‘Just imagine what these walls have seen,’ Dodds muses.
I place my hand on a wall and shut my eyes. History feels close, as if the walls are
yearning to talk. 10pm: We enter the first big chamber, the Double Height Room, and hear banging behind us from the corridor we’ve just passed through. I quickly point my camera in that direction and take a series of photographs. Incredibly, there are two small green wisps of light at leg-level on one of them. ‘Could it be a lens flair?’ I wonder.
‘People often think we’ve set up light projections in this
There was banging behind us
area,’ Claudia tells us. ‘An illuminated man is seen in this top corner, another in this doorway. We have never set anything up –the Vaults speak for themselves.’ Hmm… perhaps my own captured illuminations are the walls talking to us after all?
10.25pm: ‘This is the Second Tavern Room,’ Claudia tells us as we move into the next chamber. ‘A nobleman has been often spotted here over the years, which is thought to have been an illicit tavern due to the oyster shells and broken bottles found here when the rubble was cleared out.’ Strange smells, dragging sounds, cold spots and the tugging of clothes are often also reported. We spend some time monitoring our equipment in this room. Dodds’ legs become freezing cold, while my temperature goes unchanged.
11.05pm: We walk to the much friendlier Cobbler’s Room, said to be haunted by a middle-aged man and a child. Mediums say this is a ‘safe room’. While the man likes to interact with children and check out visitors’ shoes, the neatly-dressed child spirit is often seen in the corner where a delivery chute is thought to have been.
We call out into the darkness but our only response is the occasional drip of water hitting the ground near our feet.
Midnight: Dodds and I stake out the White Room, where a terrifying ghost known as ‘The Watcher’ is said to reside. He is described as tall with a blurry face, wearing a dirty blue jacket and heavy leather boots.
‘People have been bruised, scratched and pushed in this room,’ Claudia murmurs. ‘He blows out candles and whispers ‘get out.’ ‘You could blow out the candle if you want us to leave,’ Dodds suggests to the spirit. The flame wavers and I experience a full body shudder. ‘I-I don’t think we need to wait for the whisper,’ Dodds decides. We do not argue!