Mary King's Close

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Mary King's Close

Mary King's Close is a historic close located under buildings on the Royal Mile, in the historic Old Town area of Edinburgh, Scotland. It took its name from one Mary King, a merchant burgess who resided on the Close in the 17th century.[1][2] The close was partially demolished and buried due to the building of the Royal Exchange in the 18th century, and later closed to the public for many years. The area became shrouded in myths and urban legends; tales of hauntings and murders abounded.[3][4]

The close is currently operated as a tourist attraction by Continuum Attractions.[5]


Mary King's Close has had a reputation for hauntings since at least the 17th century, with several paranormal investigations taking place. It has been pointed out that this particular Close ran the nearest of any to the old Nor Loch, a stagnant and highly polluted marsh; biogas escaping into the close and creating eerie lights may have been the cause for these rumours of spirit hauntings.[6] It is also said that the gas escaping into the closes was known to cause hallucinations.[7]

References in literature[edit]

Mary King's Close was the subject of a vigil conducted by a team of ghost hunters from 13th-14 October 2012. The vigil was documented in Chapter 3 ("Don't lick the Wallpaper!" - a reference to the original, arsenic-laced wallpaper found in the Close's dwellings) of the book, Ghosts of Edinburgh by Newcastle-born author Rob Kirkup. Mary King's Close is the setting for the teen fiction novel Crow Boy written by Philip Caveney and published by Scottish-based publisher Fledgling Press in November 2012.[11] Mary King's Close is a location in Teen Fiction Novel City of Ghosts by V.E. Schwab published by Scholastic on September 6, 2018. It is a location in Mortal Causes by Ian Rankin where a body is found.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Mary King's Close". Archived from the original on 15 January 2013. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  2. ^ "About the Close". The Real Mary King's Close. Archived from the original on 2 April 2013. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  3. ^ "Mary King's Close". Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  4. ^ "Mary King's Close". BBC World Service. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  5. ^ "The Real Mary King's Close". Real Mary Kings Close. Retrieved 23 June 2022.
  6. ^ "The Haunted Close". Archived from the original on 16 January 2013. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  7. ^ "THE NOR'LOCH".
  8. ^ "Most Haunted: Season 4, Episode 7, Mary King's Close". IMDb. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  9. ^ "Rebus: Season 1, Episode 4, Mortal Causes". IMDb. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  10. ^ "World Tour of Scotland". IMDb. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  11. ^ "Crow Boy by Philip Caveney: Undiscovered Scotland Book Review". Undiscovered Scotland. Retrieved 19 December 2017.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 55°57′01″N 3°11′25″W / 55.95028°N 3.19028°W / 55.95028; -3.19028