Greyfriars Kirkyard | The Cruelty of Advocate’s Ghost

Historians revealed that George Mackenzie was a monster in the form of a human. People judged him his whole life by his actions; 18,000 people died by his command. Historians say he was very intellectual and skillful at concealing his evil side. Even his family and wife didn’t know his true nature. Formerly, Greyfriars Kirkyard was a prison. Later Greyfriars Kirkyard cemetery was converted into a burial ground for his victims.

According to the records, George Mackenzie died in 1691 and was buried in a black tomb, the same place as his prisoners, just a few feet away from them.

greyfriars kirkyard edinburgh

His prisoners called him ‘Bluidy’ Mackenzie because he committed heinous crimes for imposing the king’s religion on his citizens, whether they were in favor or not.

In the 16th century, when Roman Catholicism was no longer allowed in Scotland, a group of people came together and promised to follow Presbyterian beliefs while rejecting the church and the pope.

They were later known as covenanters which soon became an issue for King Charles I.

Greyfriars Kirkyard Edinburgh

The expression ‘kirk’ denotes church. The Greyfriars churchyard was founded in 1561.

It is one of the most haunted places in the world and said to have been reported over 500 ghost attacks so far since ‘98.

Allegedly, a homeless man agitated the sleeping soul of Lord Adv. Sir George Mackenzie, who his victims know as Bluidy Mackenzie. Mackenzie’s specter attacked several tourists.

Greyfriars Kirkyard burials
Oyorooms [CPS] IN

In the 17th century, when King Charles I became king, he quickly took away people’s right to practice any religion except the one he approved.

He enforced a law on practicing only state religion. However, people strongly opposed it.

Therefore, he appointed Lord Advocate George Mackenzie to make the people follow the new religion he intended the country to follow.

Greyfriars Edinburgh

However, citizens were adamant about refusing to accept the new religion, which later gave birth to a violent and bloody battle against the inhabitants on 22 June 1679.

The battle is called Bothwell Brig, where the covenanters were badly defeated.

Several were captured as prisoners and sent to Greyfriars Kirkyard. 1200 covenanters imprisoned in miserable circumstances.

They were kept in the open in winter with little food. Several died either by hanging, shot when attempting to escape, or surrendering to illness.

Out of such, only 400 survived and were sold to Barbados as slaves, in which half of them died when the ship carrying them was demolished. A memorial was made to honor the souls that died suffering.

Prisoners who died in prison were buried right there in unmarked tombs. The horror of Mackenzie was real, hence the name ‘Bluidy’ Mackenzie.

Image Credit: Greyfriars Kirkyard

Manipulation of Mackenzie’s Ghost

Reportedly ghost of Mackenzie was sleeping peacefully until a homeless man decided to dig the tombs in ’98 to look for antiques.

Regrettably, while he was endeavoring to get to the grave, the base of the vault broke, and he fell into depths of bodies- victims of Mackenzie who were long-forgotten.

The homeless man ran away, screaming in terror whilst escaping the graveyard, gone into the woods. No one saw him again.

Once the ghost of Mackenzie awoke, it attacked another victim, a lady who heard someone enter the graveyard, and she decided to take a look.

She stated that an unknown strength pushed her. Another woman was found unconscious near the grave with bruises and markings on her neck, signifying someone tried strangling her.

Greyfriars kirkyard

The occurrences became so frequent that soon exploded the internet with its haunted stories.

People travel worldwide to see whether the rumors uphold true phenomena or such a hoax. Unfortunately, the visitors witnessed the event on their first visit to Greyfriars Kirkyard.

Several were attacked and hurt; there are photographic proofs to corroborate this malignant entity’s existence.

There have been reports that women felt paralyzed for a minute since they sensed someone was pulling their hair down.

Exorcism of Greyfriars Kirkyard

Exorcist Colin Grant was all set to exorcise the ghost of Mackenzie in the year 2000. However, he soon stopped his exorcism and left right after.

He asserted that he worried about his life as he sensed hundreds of malevolent and distressed spirits surrounding him. After a month, Grant died of an unjustifiable heart attack.

Greyfriars kirkyard

Greyfriars Kirkyard Harry Potter Connections

Renowned author J.K. Rowling didn’t just come up with the infamous names for her fictional characters just like that. Real people inspire half of the names in the book.

Yes! J.K. Rowling visited Greyfriars Kirkyard to find a name for her book. The potters depicted on the Giles gravestone are close to Greyfriars’s doorway.

Professor Minerva McGonagall was inspired by William McGonagall, Scotland’s terrible poet.

He once wrote a Scottish poem: I saw a cow. He’s not there now; no wonder they called him the worst poet.

front view of the Graveyard
Image Credit: Greyfriars Kirkyard

The most famous character in the book ‘Lord Voldemort‘ a.k.a ‘Tom Riddle,’ was inspired by ‘Thomas Ridell.’ He passed away when he was 26 years old in Trinidad in 1802.

His grave is so well-known amongst tourists that it is even marked on Google Maps. You can find that on Greyfriars Kirkyards map.

Greyfriars Kirkyards Opening Times

Greyfriars Kirkyard is open the whole year. However, check their official website for events, as they could close the kirk for special services or concerts.


April to October

  • 10.30 am- 4.30 pm (Monday to Friday)
  • 12.00 pm- 4.00 pm (Saturdays)

November to March

  • 10.30 am-3.30 pm (Thursdays)
Grave of their victims
Image Credit: Greyfriars Kirkyard

Greyfriars Kirkyard Tour

Tours are appropriate for all ages and cost £8 pounds for adults and £6 for children below 14.

Greyfriars Bobby

The churchyard is linked with Greyfriars Bobby. His headstone, built by the Dog Aid Society in the year 1981, observes as his burial ground.

His statue is located opposite the churchyard’s gate. The dog belonged to Edinburgh police officer John Gray; after his demise, the dog slept on his master’s grave for 13 years.


Greyfriars Kirkyard how many bodies?

The place got crowded quickly, and in 1562, Mary Queen of Scots chose the Kirkyard as a burial site. From then until 1900, around 100,000 individuals were buried in the Greyfriars Kirkyard.

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