Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh
is reached off Candlemaker Row at the west end of the Old Town of
Edinburgh, one of the most Gothic places in one of the world's great Gothic cities.
can often take very nice Gothic-looking photographs by playing with
angles and light. But at Greyfriars, while good raking Autumn sunlight
helps matters, you can't lose anyway. This place contains the most
astonishingly grim collection of funerary art virtually anywhere.
you look, the imagery of death and decay; which raises the question,
Why? What inspired the stern burghers of late Tudor and Stuart
Edinburgh, in particular, to produce such wonderfully dismal and horrid
art? Was their sensibility really so different from ours? Did they
really think that this imagery was somehow uplifting, and pointed their
minds to the Resurrection for which they all hoped?
without the skulls and crossbones, the kirkyard has a uniquely
disagreeable atmosphere. On the south side is the Covenanters' Prison,
the Solicitor General Sir George 'Bluidy' Mackenzie confined some
twelve hundred Presbyterian prisoners seized after the battle of
Brig in 1679; his vast, pompous mausoleum has since the late 1990s been
said to be plagued by a poltergeist by which tourists on 'ghost tours'
can be pinched and scratched for a fee. At the bottom of the slope is
the mausoleum of John Adams, possibly the nastiest and most
unsettling tomb in Greyfriars. The fact that Goodman Adams's face has
had cat's whiskers penned on doesn't alter the horrible sensation.