For more than 300 years, its brutal history has been intertwined with reports of the unexplained.
And now, paranormal investigators have released new images purportedly showing a host of ghostly apparitions inside one of the country’s most haunted locations.
Claims of spectral sightings at Edinburgh's Mary King’s Close have stretched back as far as 1685, with thousands flocking to the narrow labyrinth in the hope of experiencing an eerie encounter.
But one group of ghost hunters believe they met a number of spirits during an overnight exploration of the close.
The Durham-based “Spectre Detectors” claim to have happened upon at least 30 different phantoms while they wandered the ancient streets.
One image released by the group claims to show a “man in a cap” hiding in the Close’s plague room, while another
apparently shows a woman in a bonnet.
The team – who travelled up from the North East to investigate the Close – have visited hundreds of haunted locations across the country since 2011.
Elaine Kelly, who has written several books about her ghost hunting experiences, said it was “extremely rare” to get such a clear picture of any spirits, adding they heard “various voices” during their visit.
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Elaine, 44, added: “We had a number of mediums in our party and they were communicating with about 30 different voices, it was a remarkable evening.
“We started in Andrew Chesney’s house, I think we got a few different contacts in there and even in the cafe area, I think we got a man talking about hangings.
“It is very rare to get that much contact on just one visit, so it was extremely surprising.”
Elaine continued: “I think even the staff there were surprised. Obviously we had guides with us, but my friend showed them the image of the man in the cap on the actual camera, they were amazed.”
The Close – which opened as a tourist attraction in 2003 – was originally created by a maze of tenement blocks housing a variety of different social classes in the 17th century.
However, it gained infamy for its role in becoming a breeding ground for the plague, when thousands of black rats carrying fleas infected with the illness killed a huge section of the population in the mid-1600’s.
Many of the apparitions seen in the close since then have been reported to be plague victims.
The far end of the Close was demolished to make way for Cockburn Street in 1853, almost a century after the current site was paved over to form the foundations of the Royal Exchange building.
Paul Nixon, general manager of The Real Mary King’s Close, commented: “With world renowned tales of ghost sightings dating back to 1685, this recent image has certainly sparked some debate in the office.”
He added: “Although we welcome paranormal investigators from across the UK to explore the close after dark, we’re proud of our real history, and of telling the real stories of the people who once would have lived, worked, and died on the Close.”