Edinburgh’s South Bridge was built in 1785-88 to cross the valley between the High Street and George Square. Beneath the 19 enormous stone arches, a series of floors and walls were constructed to create a series of underground vaults. These were used by local shops and businesses as workshops and storage rooms
They also provided family accommodation – but it was far from luxurious. Groups of ten or more people lived together in small, dark, dank rooms. They had no ventilation and with the stench of fish oil lamps, stale rubbish and the contents of chamber pots emptied into the streets, living conditions must have been almost intolerable.
It wasn’t long before the vaults also became the worldly haunt of a collection of the city’s rogues, villains, prostitutes – and murderers.
The vaults were sealed off and completely abandoned in 1815 and weren’t rediscovered until 1985 – and since then, numerous ghostly sightings and experiences have been reported.
Several people have reported a young boy who pulls at their leg or sleeve and a photograph taken in the vaults seems to show the apparition of a cobbler reclining in a corner as if listening to a tour guide’s stories.
Equally mysterious, a radio producer recorded a mysterious voice while making an historical documentary. It is thought the voice is speaking either Scots Gaelic or Irish Gaelic and uttering the words “fad ort”, meaning “longing to be away”.
An unpleasant gentleman who goes by the name of Mr Boots, due to his high leather boots, has also been seen on several occasions and has been known to push people and whisper obscenities in their ears. Other visitors have experienced cold spots and feelings of unease and discomfort.
First Broadcast : 21st October 2003