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Old 17-03-2010, 09:36 PM   #1
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Thumbs up Mary King's Close Subterranean Tunnels & Chambers

Mary King's Close is the best known close on the Royal Mile thanks to its 300 years old legends and ghost stories but, until recently it has also been the least visited. In the past few years, the close not generally open to the public has been open as a tourist attraction and is now called 'The Real Mary King's Close'.

Mary King's Close is a network of subterranean tunnels and chambers running beneath the Old Town area of Edinburgh, Scotland. After being used as closes and later being closed to the public for many years, the complex has become shrouded in myths and urban legends. Tales of ghosts and murders, and myths of plague victims being walled up and left to die abandoned. However, new research and archaeological evidence has revealed that the close actually consists of a number of closes which were originally narrow streets with tenement houses on either side, stretching up to seven stories high. Mary King's Close is now a commercial tourist attraction.

The Plague

Dr George Rae treats an unfortunate plague victim

During Christmas 1644 the plague, probably brought by ship from Europe via the port of Leith, and spread by fleas carried on black rats, erupted across the land. It took hold first in Edinburgh, then spread west and north, and over the following 18 months killed a substantial part of the Scottish population.

Despite the myth, victims were not walled up in the closes and left to starve.[citation needed] In fact, there had been a long tradition of organized quarantine in the town. Over many previous outbreaks, those infected with the plague enclosed themselves in their house and indicated their plight by displaying a small white flag from the window. In response, bread, ale, coal and even wine were delivered to them daily, and a plague doctor would visit to drain bubos - the pus-filled lymph nodes, which threatened to rupture and kill the patient through septicaemia. Some people were quarantined in wooden huts or ‘ludges’, outside the town at Sciennes, Boroughmuir, or in the King’s Park, for anything from two to six weeks or until death, whichever came the soonest.

With the limited and often downright dangerous medical treatments of the time, doctors could do very little to help. Like others, they would have worn herb-filled, beak-like, masks to try to protect themselves; but many died. John Paulitious, Edinburgh’s first official plague doctor, was one such victim. However, the risks were not without compensation. Paulitious' salary had risen from £40, first to £80, and then to an incredible £100 Scots a month by the time his successor, Dr George Rae, replaced him on 13 June 1645.

Dr Rae dressed from head to toe in a thick leather mask, cloak and gloves when visiting plague victims. At the time, it was believed the plague was spread by miasma - what was thought to be 'bad air' - and the doctor's cloak was designed to prevent miasma from reaching his skin. It has since been shown that the plague was actually spread by flea bites, and that the leather prevented fleas from the patients biting the doctor.

By November, Dr Rae had negotiated a further £10 Scots per month but by the autumn of 1646 the worst was over in Edinburgh, though it took longer elsewhere, and the Council had second thoughts about paying him. Ten years after the last major outbreak of the "foul pestilence" in Scotland, George Rae was still fighting to be paid. He eventually won and claimed an unprecedented yearly pension of £1,200 Scots.

The story of Mary King's Close

The Close was a street back in the 17th century and much of it is still intact. It runs from the High Street northwards beneath the City Chambers Edinburgh's Local Government. Before Cockburn Street was built Mary Kings Close used to run all the way to Market Street.

The Close is said to be named after the daughter of wealthy advocate and owner of the property, Alexander King, although little evidence has been found in that respect. A woman by the name of Mary King did live there in mid 17th century.

'The Real Mary King's Close' presents tourists with a historically accurate interpretation of life in these narrow alleyways from 16th up to the 19th century.

In mid 17th century the Old Town had been infested with black rats from ships at Leith Docks and disease spread out. The local council attempted to contain the plague and the decision was made to block up the entrances to Mary King's Close. Some plague victims are thought to have been locked in.

In the following years the close had been reopened due to overcrowding in the Old Town and sightings of ghosts, mainly headless animals and disembodied men, have been reported.

This image gives a better idea of the set out of the buildings and where the would inbitants lived underneath

(same model as above from the other angle) shows part of the rooms and chambers underneath the City Chambers

60 feet down into the forgotten streets of Edinburgh’s past. It's fascinating to see how far down below street level the passages led,

The old closes of “The Real Mary King’s Close” lie beneath what is now Warriston Close and the Town Hall. The ancient closes used to run down at right angles from the High Street right down to the Noor Loch – which was later drained and built on, forming Prince’s Street gardens and Waverley Station. These closes were fortified with vaults before being built over. The rooms we went through dated back to the 1400’s.

You can clearly see a few orbs in the picture above

The myth that that the Burgh council had bricked up the inhabitants in the close and left them to die of plague before "sending in butchers to dismember the bodies" was untrue. The truth was a law preventing contact between healthy and unhealthy – 12 feet the distance people should keep from one another. They also kept the doors of unwell households shut for six weeks once the plague had been found. Doctor George Rae would be the only person allowed into a plague household – and if the plague victims didn’t have a hard enough time, the guy trying to help them was dressed in head to foot black leather and wore a mask with a beak full of herbs. This was to protect him against “miasma” – or bad air – but helpfully it also stopped the plague carrying fleas from getting to him. They did send in the cleaners after most people had dies as well. They would light fires in the middle of the rooms to smoke out the bad air.

look close theres another few orbs in this pic one on the ground, and one just above the hand rail left handside

There were two types of plague; pneumonic and bubonic. Pneumonic you either survived or died, bubonic could be treated by cutting out the pus-filled boils and cauterising the wounds – without any anaesthetic.

There are plenty of ghost stories, the most frequent sighting in recent years has been that of a young girl, no more than 5 or 6 years old called 'Annie' by those that have seen her. with one room containing a shrine to “Annie” – supposedly a poltergeist spoken to by a medium in the early 1990’s. The plague victim was allegedly locked in a room by her parents and left to die by her parents’ before coming back to haunt the former house to look for her doll. People have left loads of toys to placate the spirit giving the room a really tacky and slightly unnerving edge. people leave dolls and soft animals.

you could see all the way up the close and peer in a workshop which was utilised as recently as the 1930’s. it was amazing to see all the rooms and staircases forming a warren below the city.

chesneys house

The thunderbox


Heres a link to The Vaults Edinburgh's Dark Secret

check out this link!!



Last edited by runlikehell; 17-03-2010 at 10:36 PM.
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Old 17-03-2010, 09:57 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by runlikehell View Post
Cheers run... interesting stuff and a really cool picture so I'm stealing it
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Old 17-03-2010, 10:15 PM   #3
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Thumbs up Most Haunted Mary Kings Close

M.H - Mary Kings Close Part 1


M.H - Mary Kings Close Part 2


M.H - Mary Kings Close Part 3


M.H - Mary Kings Close Part 4


M.H - Mary Kings Close Part 5


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Old 17-03-2010, 10:17 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by psketti View Post
Cheers run... interesting stuff and a really cool picture so I'm stealing it
you do so at your own peril Psketti!!!

Honestly the hastle ive had trying to post my two threads you wouldent not belive!

Im not joking i was neary ready to contact admin and get the two threads deleted! If the two thread get removed then you know why folks

Last edited by runlikehell; 17-03-2010 at 10:21 PM.
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