Explore Real Mary King’s Close

Many have tried to establish exactly who Mary King was. Documentation has shown that a Mary King did live in Mary King’s Close in the 1630s. She was a respected business woman, which led to the close being named after her. But the close has been shrouded in mystery and stories of ghosts and murder for centuries. After archeological research and studies, the close was opened to the public in 2003, and it has become one of Edinburgh’s most popular attractions, with tour guides sharing the real stories and secrets of the close.

During the seventeenth century, Mary King’s Close, and other closes that flowed into it, was made up of bustling narrow streets and homes that stood at seven storeys high. But in 1753, the construction of the Royal Exchange (later becoming the City Chambers) was commissioned. The top four storeys of the closes were demolished, while the remaining chambers served as a foundation for the new building, enclosing Mary King’s Close, and a few others, into the darkness of the underground. Stories of how plague victims were walled in to die in the close spread, along with numerous other stories. Research has shown that many of these tales are mere urban legends, but they have uncovered even greater stories and facts, which will still have chills running up visitors’ spines. Each of the tour guides have taken on the personality of someone who actually lived in the close, and they regale visitors with stories that have been documented and proven to be fact.

Even though no plague victims were left in the close to die, research shows that the city had quarantine structures in place. There have been many sightings of apparitions and strange occurrences that visitors have experienced. One apparition, a girl that has now been named Annie, is estimated to be approximately six years old and is a frequent sighted at the Real King Mary’s Close. The Mary King’s Close also has a Ghost Festival every year, which coincides with similar festivities that take place across the city. Real Mary King’s Close is an attraction that is not for the faint hearted, but is also fascinating, educational and an opportunity to step back into history.