Thursday, 29 August 2013

Some mysteries in and around Edinburgh.

According to Andrew Hennessy [1] Edinburgh has the historic provenance to be a place where magical ideas and strange beings create strange works. Apart from the famous hauntings on the Edinburgh Tourist Trail: The Mackenzie Poltergeist, the ghosts ofthe Vaults and Mary Kings Close Edinburgh and the Lothians have an undercurrent of the strange including a history of strange beings from the Sidhe to ET. While some of the sightings of UFOs, and other creatures, may have been due to Marsh Gas or industrial air pollution alcohol is not a likely cause, for not only are Scots hardy drinkers, but when drunk you happily spend hours talking to a pink elephant or a walking skeleton and notice nothing amiss, though having said that I recall an English friend long ago who, after 17 vodkas, insisted a tree branch waving in the wind was a horse.

The strangeness in and around Edinburgh may be a result of its location or the caverns that lie under much of the Lothians. Either way it is there if you look.

A Female Scottish Rip Van Winkel
Sometime in the 18th century two lovers once went into the hills at Innerleithen, south of Edinburgh, to paly hide and seek. The girl hid in a case were she found a door that led into a strange land fill of people who drove around in horseless carriages and had cities with domes and spires. She had a great time there and then remembered her lover and returned to our world. But in our world 50 years had passed. Her lover had given up waiting and returned without her: he had been accused of her murder and hanged.

This story could perhaps have been inspired by the Dutch tale of Rip Van Winkel but has the element common to tales of encounters with fairies that a short time there is a long time here, and, without the time dilation element, is reminiscent of the tale of the Fairy Boy of Leith, from around the same period.

The notion of underground civilisations is widespread, to the extent of being an archetypal image, perhaps most famously in Bulwer-Lytton's book The Coming Race and Shavers tales of Deros and Teros. Jung records visions of descending into the basement of his house and finding a trapdoor in the basement that led to deeper levels.

The Fairy Boy of Leith
Calton Hill is a strange place, the highest points having an air of isolation from the world. I recall reading it was used for the Lord of Misrule ceremonies in Edinburgh and it is now the site of the annual Beltane Festival.

Around 1648 a captain Burton, met an unusually intelligent ten year old boy who claimed that every Thursday night he would go to a hill, presumed to be Calton Hill, and, enter underground rooms through a pair of gates invisible to all without fairy sight where he would play the drum for a large assembly of people. His account is more like the accounts of a medieval Witches Sabbat without the diabolic element: and lacks the time lapse element of Faerie encounters, where a night in Faerie can be decades in this world. However it is possible there are caverns under the hill, for there are caverns, now sealed off, under Arthur's seat, and an entire Lothian cavern system. I recall reading that the last sighting of the fairies in Edinburgh was on Calton Hill in 1930, the year the Calton Jail, formerly on the hill, was demolished. Perhaps they did not like the noise.

Crichton Castle
At the head of the River Tyne near the village of the same name and two mile east of Gorebridge, which is accessible by bus from the centre of Edinburgh, stands the ruined Crichton Castle, parts of which date from the 15th century. In 1568 the castle was given to the Earl of Bothwell who was later accused of witchcraft and fled the country. Crichton Castle stands on the edge of a vast cavern system that stretches as far as the Pentland Hills. Around the Lothian cavern system edges are place names and villages such as 'Elvingstone' and 'Elphinstone' and 'Goblin Halls' in an area about 1000 square miles.

To the south of the castle is a building said to be haunted by the ghost of William Crichton, who died in 1453.

One midsummer's night around 1970, two people from Gorebridge decided to carry out a Wiccan ritual in the Churchyard next to Crichton Castle, daring the wrath of the Blue Lady, allegedly the ghost of a distressed Nun.

Under a full moon on the stroke of midnight they looked up from what they were doing towards the path that led all the way down to Crichton Castle.

They saw a silent procession of fine ladies and gentlemen all in black evening gowns and dinner suits filing past the Churchyard gate on its way down the castle road. The two sat there totally struck dumb. When the parade reached the castle, they started quickly walking away back to the road, noticing with increasing alarm that there were no cars or coaches parked by the roadside.

There is a tradition in Scotland of the midsummer 'Faerie parade' usually told in terms of medieval symbols, such as Knights and Dames e.g. as in 'the Ballad of Tam Linn.' and this seems to have been a version in more modern clothing.

In the 19th century theosophist CW Leadbeater wrote in his book 'The Hidden Side of Things' of Faerie tribes in the Pentland Hills to the west of Edinburgh at Flotterstone. It is hard to believe a large tribe of any sort of being could hide in these caverns, but the existence of an entire subterranean city in Edinurgh's Niddrie Street Vaults for decades means the possibility cannot be ruled out.

The Wrap
Edinburgh is a bustling city built on seven hills and a cavern system that holds many mysteries. The tales here only scratch the surface and there is much more to tell. The Lothian Cavern system may or may not hold a community of strange beings but, as I hope to show later, they hold interest for the student of anomalies, whether Ufologist, psychic researcher, conspiracy buff, sociologist or anthropologist.

This post was sponsored by the Badjao Bed and Breakfast, who now have an online booking system accessible from their website using the Book Now button which also allows guests to check for availability.

[1] Andrew Hennessy on Haunted Edinburgh and the Lothians

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