Things that go bump in the night

There are many Hallowe'en events scheduled in Edinburgh
There are many Hallowe'en events scheduled in Edinburgh
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WHEN it comes to scares this Hallowe’en, few cities around the world can deliver better than the Capital.

Edinburgh has earned a reputation as one of the most haunted places in Europe, helping to inspire the works of many a mystery writer.

Tales of ghosts and the paranormal have stemmed from the history behind the Royal Mile – the Old Town thoroughfare built on top of an underground city sealed up in the 17th century to prevent the spread of the plague.

Edinburgh will draw on all of that haunted history to get into the spirt of Hallowe’en this week, so the Evening News has compiled its own guide of eight unique frights designed to test those brave enough to explore the city’s dark past.

Paranormal investigator Jimmy Devlin is teaming up with medium Jackie Drummond to run an evening ghost tour of Edinburgh Zoo’s Corstorphine Hill House on Wednesday night.

The mansion, which was built in 1793, has a legacy of spooky stories and sightings that will be probed for the first time.

Mr Devlin said Edinburgh deserved its reputation as a hot spot for all things paranormal.

He said: “Everybody has a ghost story and everybody likes to get scared. Whether you believe in the paranormal, whether you believe in an afterlife, expect the unexpected.

“You can’t make the paranormal happen. There won’t be anyone there to jump out, there won’t be any deliberate scares.

“To come along with an open mind and draw their own conclusion from the end of the night, that’s all I ask.”Louise Dickson, marketing co-ordinator at Edinburgh Zoo, said: “A grey lady is regularly reported – in fact a small boy spotted her a few weeks ago. A picture of an unknown soldier in the cellar regularly moves around and security guards at the zoo often spot figures at the windows at night and end up giving chase to people that are just not being there.”

Across town, the Capital’s home of frights – the Edinburgh Dungeon – is staging its own show written specifically for Hallowe’en. The interactive production, War on Witches, has been based on the notorious North Berwick Witch Trials of 1590-92.

The trials were organised after black magic was blamed for a sea storm that threatened to sink the ship carrying King James VI and his wife, Princess Anne of Denmark, back to Scotland. Confessions were extracted by torture and executions carried out in Edinburgh.

Show writer and head actor Kieran Wood said: “We decided to focus on the aftermath of the trials. One of the big fears of the day was that other witches would get hold of the corpses of their executed colleagues and resurrect them.

“So we have the last survivor recruiting visitors to form a new coven and cast spells to bring back Agnes Sampson, who was supposed to have been one of their leaders, back from the grave.”

A range of other events are taking place across the Lothians. Channings Hotel, in Learmouth View, is hosting a Little Devils’ Tea Party tomorrow where diners will taste so-called “frighteningly funky food” and get involved in cake decorating.

Lauriston Castle on the shores of the Firth of Forth is also inviting visitors to be thrilled by scary stories or hunt for answers in the castle ground’s creepy woods.

The National Museum of Flight is running a ghost train at its historic East Fortune Airfield in East Lothian tomorrow, with a Hallowe’en art competition for children. And kids will be able to make their own paper lanterns with ghosts, ghouls and beasties today at the Museum of Childhood, while the Holyrood Park Education Centre is inviting visitors to take a fright-filled walk through the park on Monday.

The Beltane Fire Society will also be marking the changing of the seasons on Hallowe’en night. Edinburgh Castle and St Giles’ Cathedral will be the dramatic backdrop for the Samhuinn Fire Festival – a spectacle of costumed performers, puppets, fire, drums and dance. The performance to usher in Samhuinn night – the traditional Celtic New Year – will start at Johnstone Terrace at 9pm before moving down the Royal Mile towards the stage area at Parliament Square.

Parents of young children not wishing to stray far from home can always take up a challenge of the 30 Things to Do at Hallowe’en Before You’re Three bucket list. The tasks, drawn up as part of the Scottish Government’s Early Years campaign, include making a witches’ brew, visiting the Central Children’s Library to read a scary story or going for awalk in the Meadows to collect leaves to make leafy ghosts.