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Edinburgh Ghost Tours & The Unexplainable

13th May 2021
Edinburgh Ghost Tours & The Unexplainable

Written by Mercat Tours Storyteller Scott.

We all have, at some point in our lives, been fearful of the dark. Whether it was last Tuesday when you woke up in the middle of the night, or when you were three years old, we’ve all had that feeling of uneasiness in pitch blackness.

The feeling that you can’t see what you once could moments before can make anyone jumpy. The Blair Street Underground Vaults are a great place for that jumpy feeling.

If you have been on one of our Edinburgh ghost tours before, you will know that we don’t do jump scares. When you feel on edge, it is down to the guide and the atmosphere around you, thanks to those walls under the ground.

The flickering of candles makes you see shapes dancing on the walls, the sound of activity in neighbouring chambers can lead to unexplained sounds and the feeling of a drip on your shoulder can cause you to turn as though someone has touched your shoulder. We tour guides love this, and we really miss it when we can’t do Edinburgh ghost tours down in the vaults.

While there are some things we can explain (and normally will), there are many things that we just cannot give you a solid answer for. This can sometimes be voices, laughter or screams that are right beside the group, or heavy footsteps that seem to be coming from a direction that no one should be walking.

When these things happen, all we can say is that it’s some form of supernatural activity in the vault at the time. Sometimes we can tell people that those heavy footsteps could be Mr. Boots making his rounds, or that the previously double-knotted shoelace coming undone was probably little Jack who sometimes likes to play games on groups. But sometimes, even the guides won’t know. When it is something we can’t explain, even we can be left speechless.

A tale of the unexplainable on one of my Edinburgh ghost tours

For one such unexplainable event in the Blair Street Underground Vaults, I want to take you back to March 2020. I was taking a group through the vaults during a Doomed Dead & Buried tour, and had just entered the Wine Vault.

While explaining to my group what the room was once used for, the nearby fire exit sign lit up with a bright white light that engulfed the entire group for no more than ten or fifteen seconds before going dark again, leaving us all stunned. One member of the group wondered if it was something to do with them, since they just thought they wanted more light for a picture. After a few moments, we summoned our courage and continued.

After the tour had finished, I asked my colleagues in Visitor Services if they had shone a light into that room while checking the vaults, but they explained that while they were in the vaults, they were nowhere near our group at the time of this event taking place.

I went to check and see if the fire exit light was broken and found it was working as intended. This could have a reasonable explanation, a warning that it was needing new batteries or a slight power surge, but I can’t be sure of that.

The fact that we were down in the vaults only by candlelight leads me to believe that there could have been something else to this unexplainable event in my time at Mercat. One thing is for sure, I won’t forget about it any time soon, and I am sure the visitors on that tour won’t either.

Join us on a ghost tour of the Blair Street Underground Vaults. From Ghostly Underground to Doomed Dead & Buried and the Hidden & Haunted tour, we offer a variety of award-winning tours that are perfect for exploring Edinburgh's darker history.

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