George Mackenzie's Mausoleum – Edinburgh, Scotland - Atlas Obscura
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Edinburgh, Scotland

George Mackenzie's Mausoleum

The tomb of one of Scotland's bloody historic villains is a magnet for bumbling desecrators. 

In the 17th century, Scotland was going through an intense religious struggle, started by King Charles introducing the Common Book of Prayer and declaring all opposition to the book an act of treason and the draconian lawyer George Mackenzie was the man responsible for putting the opposition down.

George Mackenzie was a lawyer and the Lord Advocate during the rule of Charles II and quickly earned a reputation as one of the most vicious persecutors of the covenanters, the people who rose up and signed the National Covenant in 1638, around. Mackenzie’s brutal and unfeeling treatment of the protesters even earned him the moniker “Bluidy Mackenzie.” Many covenanters were imprisoned in a section of Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh, where he delighted in their torture; guards were allowed to beat the covenanters at will, and eventually their heads would decorate the spiked gate.

After his death, Mackenzie was entombed in a mausoleum in the Greyfriars Kirkyard which has been the site of a number of desecrations. In 1999 a homeless man sought shelter in Mackenzie’s mausoleum and fell through the floor (the hole can still be seen.) After the disruption in the mausoleum, people have reported poltergeist activity around the tomb, including scratches and bruises, all attributed to Mackenzie’s poltergeist, as horrific in death as he was in life. However this did not scare a duo of teens who broke into the tomb in 2004, and removed a number of unidentified remains, even beheading one corpse and using the skull like a hand-puppet. They were found and tried under centuries a centuries old grave-robbing law described as “violation of sepulchre.”

Thanks to the many violations, the doors to the mausoleum remain locked, but visitors can still peek through and recite the old children’s rhyme: “Bluidy Mackingie, come oot if ye daur, lift the sneck and draw the bar!”

Know Before You Go

Located on the left wall of the Greyfriars Kirkyard when you enter from the main gates.