Scotland 5: Day 31
03.30.16 | Edinburgh Hostel | 23:49
My hostel in Edinburgh has been having internet issues at the moment. I originally posted this day right on time like the other days, but for some reason, my blog service has since lost the post. This is a repost, but since I didn’t save what I’d written, I’ve had to retell the story. If you already read about day 31, then hopefully I’ve added some more information. A lesson has been learned: I’m going to keep the notes I take about each day in the off-chance that this happens again. To quote a line from the song She Doesn’t Know by Michael McLean, my post was “…lost somewhere in cyberspace!”
What I do remember about day 31 is that there was another walk up Arthur’s seat. I managed to take a few more pictures while I was up there. This was perfect because there was hardly anyone on the mountain yet.
The absolute best part of the day was going on a ghost tour at night! This is where we went into the old Edinburgh underground, well after dark, where tens of thousands of homeless people had once lived, many years ago. The tour guide shared a story of when the city passed a law making it illegal to be homeless. Any person without a roof over his or her head at night was collected and shipped off to Australia, or worse. This is the reason that so many of the homeless people would end up underground at night- they were hiding.
Back then, it was also illegal to be the child of a single mother (like you had any control over who your parents were). The city council decided that all these bastard kids would no doubt grow up to be thieves since they didn’t have fathers to teach them right from wrong. In order to keep this from happening, the city officials would take the child from the mother and sell him or her to the orphanage to make the child work. Often these kids would have to literally work their fingers to the bone.
These underground passages were filled with so much disease that many of these homeless people would die. Their deaths were actually looked by the city as a way of controlling the homeless population. The limestone walls would slowly dissolve in the damp conditions due to all of the feces and urine that was being dumped into the streets overhead. This would drip down on these people.
In order to remove the damp caused by this waste, the people would spread tons of straw on the ground to absorb it all. This was done every 6 months or so when the seasons changed. It would get so dry and nasty that this underground world would become a major breeding ground for rats and other pests.
The tunnels had decent air ventilation but no plumbing. Because of these conditions, if there was ever a fire in the underground, it would burn hot and fast. The firemen and police would refuse to ever come underground to fight these fires. This was yet another way to control the numbers of the homeless population.
During our tour, one girl in our group actually fainted while our guide was telling us all these scary, sorted stories. At first, I thought she was planted in the group and that she was supposed to faint to make it scarier for us, but this was not the case. Another one in our group had been on this tour three times already and this had never happened while she had been underground.
The tour ended up at Greyfriars, a very old cemetery that was once the only place Edinburgh had to bury their bodies. Even though there are less than 200 graves, it was estimated that over half a million bodies had actually been buried in the small area. Years ago, they had the soil tested and found out that up to 2% of the soil was actually human remains. CREEPY!