Folklore Friday - The MacKenzie Poltergeist
Today we're looking at the MacKenzie Poltergeist. What's so interesting (and spooky) about this story is that this is the most convincing case of supernatural activity in history. Read on at your peril...
In the depths of Edinburgh's Greyfriars Cemetery, one tomb has become particularly famous over the past few years. A small tomb knowns as the 'Black Mausoleum' has become known as the lair of a malevolent paranormal entity. Located behind the high walls and locked gates of an area known as the Covenanter's Prison, the tomb holds what most have named 'The MacKenzie Poltergeist'.
The first recorded sightings of MacKenzie go back to 1999. With the frequency of the sightings and severity of the incidents being much higher than in any other Edinburgh location, Edinburgh Council didn't take long before they closed the gates to the tomb and locked them tightly. Hundreds of sightings and attacks have occurred around the Black Mausoleum and the Convenanter's Prison throughout the years. Of these attacks, an astonishing 140 have caused witnesses to collapse.
Reports of hot spots, cold spots, cuts and bruises, burns and other marks on victims' bodies are common, with photographs being taken to prove the marks are real. There have been many images taken of the tomb with unidentified shapes. There have also been sightings of a white figure, reports of unexplained smells and unexplained noises such as knocking noises under the ground and inside the tomb itself. The list goes on with dead animals being found at the graveside with no marks on them or signs of how they died. Aside from noises and shapes, people have also complained of their hair being pulled, arms and legs being grabbed and one or two people have claimed that they were possessed by Mackenzie.
There have been two exorcisms carried out on the Black Mausoleum, however both attempts have been unsuccessful. Clearly this was something that angered MacKenzie as in 2002 four different house fires behind the tomb of George MacKenzie's tomb broke out. In 2003 a fire swept through the house of a resident who had taken extra interest in MacKenzie. Over the years Jan-Andrew Henderson had been collecting letters, photographs, records and statements from victims of MacKenzie. In one night, the fire destroyed years of work as well as all of Henderson's possessions. The eerie part of this tale is that none of the surrounding houses were damaged by the fire and the official cause of the fire was never discovered.
How did it all begin?
On a dark stormy night, a homeless man had been trudging the streets in search of shelter. Reaching the graveyard he decided to pop the lock on the gate to the Covenanter's Prison and headed inside. He knew he would be sheltered here, but also that no one would bother him, or so he thought.
In the prison he found coffins belonging to some of Mackenzie's relatives. The story goes that he broke into one of the coffins. Whether out of boredom or morbid curiosity, we'll never know, but as he made his attempts, suddenly the floor gave way and he fell into a pit. The space between the tomb contained a number of bodies which had previously been dumped there as a means of quick disposal in the times of the plague. Due to the grave creating a seal for the bodies they were still partially decomposing and the homeless man cried out in fear, struggling to get back to the surface. When he finally emerged he fled in complete fear, startling a dog walker as he ran.
The news broke that a grave had been desecrated and then people started to get hurt.
Who was George MacKenzie?
So we've heard about MacKenzie in supernatural form, but who was he before he left the land of the living?
Sir George MacKenzie was a former Lord Advocate and his infamous persecution of the Covenanters in the 17 th Century earned him his nickname 'Bluidy MacKenzie' He was an educated man, but a ruthless one. His treatment of hundreds of Convenanters was described as horrific, as he tortured and killed them, laying their bodies to rest in the site of the Covenanter's Prison.
A ground keeper who worked for Greyfriars Kirkyard for 13 years started not long after the homeless man incident. Willie has heard more stories than most about the infamous poltergeist.
The reason why he haunts this Kirkyard is, I think, his conscience for the way he treated the Covenanters,' says Willie. 'it's a terrible thing to persecute people for their religion, yet it still goes on today. Mackenzie was Lord Advocate who presided over five being hung in the Grassmarket, and there were so many others during what's now called 'The Killing Time'.
Whatever the MacKenzie Poltergeist's reasons, we will never know. All we know is that this is definitely the most convincing and well documented case of supernatural activity in Scotland's history.