Surrounding one of Edinburgh’s most well-known churches, the historic Greyfriar’s Kirk is the equally renowned Greyfriar’s Kirkyard – a cemetery steeped in both beauty and mystery.
Visitors are drawn to this peaceful graveyard for a number of reasons, whether it be the many famous names that lie buried here, the spooky ghost stories and enthralling history, or even on account of little fictional wizard Harry Potter.
The church itself has been a place of worship for four centuries and today continues as a parish, museum and concert venue. The surrounding cemetery, Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, was a former convent garden until Mary Queen of Scots granted it to be used as a burial ground in 1562.
Notable characters of Scottish history buried in the Kirkyard include the poet Allan Ramsay and Sir Walter Scott’s father, among others. The most famous and beloved resident of all is Greyfriar’s Bobby – the faithful dog who held vigil at his master’s grave for 14 years until his own death in 1872. Bobby is often referred to as the most famous dog in Scotland, and was the subject of a novel published in 1912 by Eleanor Atkinson, and films in 1961 (by Walt Disney) and 2006 (directed by John Henderson).
More information about the famous pooch as well as the rich heritage and history of the Kirk can be found at the on-site museum which is open from April through to October.
While strolling through Greyfriar’s Kirkyard is considered tranquil and atmospheric during the day, it is said to be haunted at night. Independent ghost tours operate after dark taking daring visitors on a chilling journey to discover the infamous Mackenzie Poltergeist. Harry Potter fans also flock to the cemetery to visit Thomas Riddell’s grave, a 19th-century gentleman who is thought to have inspired JK Rowling’s villainous Voldemort character.
Greyfriar’s Kirkyard is situated in the heart of Edinburgh on Candlemaker Row. Along with a visit to the cemetery, the National Museum of Scotland is just a short walk away and is another must-see attraction of the area. Reach both via the closest train station, Edinburgh Waverley.