Greyfriars Kirkyard is the graveyard surrounding Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is located at the southern edge of the Old Town, adjacent to George Heriot's School. Burials have been taking place since the late 16th century, and a number of notable Edinburgh residents are interred at Greyfriars. The Kirkyard is operated by City of Edinburgh Council in liaison with a charitable trust, which is linked to but separate from the church. The Kirkyard and its monuments are protected as a category A listed building.
Enclosed vaults are found mainly on the south edge of the graveyard and in the "Covenanters' Prison". These either have solid stone walls or iron railings and were created as a deterrent to grave robbing, which had become a problem in the eighteenth century. Greyfriars also has two low ironwork cages, called mortsafes. These were leased, and protected bodies for long enough to deter the attentions of the early nineteenth century resurrection men who supplied Edinburgh Medical College with corpses for dissection.
Notable monuments include the Martyr's Monument, which commemorates executed Covenanters. The Italianate monument to Sir George Mackenzie was designed by the architect James Smith, and modelled on the Tempietto di San Pietro, designed by Donato Bramante. Duncan Ban MacIntyre's memorial was renovated in 2005, at a cost of about £3,000, raised by a fundraising campaign of over a year. The monument of John Byres of Coates, 1629, was one of last works of the royal master mason William Wallace.
Alleged Paranormal Activities:
Since 1998, when a homeless person broke into Mackenzie's mausoleum for the night, Greyfriars Churchyard has been the epicentre of an escalation of unexplained events linked to the ghost of Mackenzie; known colloquially as the Mackenzie Poltergeist. The Mackenzie Poltergeist has been called the most well-documented paranormal phenomenon in the World. Even before 1999, there had been reports of unusual disturbances in the graveyard. Between 1990 and 2006 there were 350 reported attacks and 170 reports of people collapsing. Visitors reported being cut, bruised, bitten, scratched and most commonly blacking out. Some complained later of bruises, scratches and gouge-marks on their bodies.
Most attacks and feelings of unease occurred in MacKenzie's Black Mausoleum and the Covenantors Prison. In 2000, an exorcist, Colin Grant was summoned to the graveyard to perform an exorcism ceremony; he was said to have picked up "evil forces" and claimed that the forces were too overpowering and feared that they could kill him. Two months later, he died suddenly of a heart attack. Edinburgh City Council closed off that part of the cemetery until an Edinburgh-based historian and author, Jan Andrew Henderson, persuaded the council to allow controlled visits to that part of the churchyard and in turn this developed into a nocturnal guided tour, which became a local attraction. Greyfriars Churchyard and, in particular, MacKenzie's Poltergeist, have been featured on paranormal TV programmes, including Fox's Scariest Places on Earth, and ITV's Extreme Ghost Stories.