Your guide showing people around Greyfriars. Greyfriars Kirk - the church in the heart of the Kirkyard.

PRIVATE GREYFRIARS

KIRKYARD TOUR

Discover the stories of some of Old Edinburgh’s people, only inches away from where their mortal remains lie buried today!
Your tour information 'at a glance'.
WE’RE GOOD TO GO!

COVID-19 AND YOUR SAFETY

Historic Edinburgh Tours Ltd have successfully achieved the ‘Good to go” standard from Visit Britain which shows we follow current government COVID-19 guidelines and that we have processes in place to maintain cleanliness and aid social distancing. You can find out more about our COVID-19 policy here.
“Robert definitely knows to catch the attention of the audience. My teenage son that usually looses interest for anything historical quite quickly was following from start to finish with pleasure and was really looking to the next tour - he told us he thought that barely 30 min were spent into Greyfriars (tour is 1.5h !). Quite an achievement” Marc Deryke - Tripadvisor
TRIPADVISOR REVIEWS = 100% WERE 5 STAR REVIEWS
Remember, your Greyfriars tour is private - you can choose when it starts! We’ve also got some flexibility with distances and elevations on the tour. Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss these alternatives. Robert, your Edinburgh tour guide, wants to give you a guided walk that interests you and which is accessible for all your group. In this Edinburgh walking tour, all your locations will take place within Greyfriars Kirkyard itself. We’ve outlined all the story possibilities for your visit. We may not cover them all; it depends on where your interests lie. Remember, this is YOUR tour, and we’ve got opportunities to accommodate the things you are interested in! Story 1 - Greyfriars Bobby, the faithful wee dug! You’ll find just how vital Greyfriars is to Scotland’s history and you’ll get a chance to discover the different stories behind the legend of the famous wee Skye Terrier Greyfriars Bobby! Greyfriars Bobby is, almost certainly, the most renowned creature buried here. The Greyfriars Bobby statue, which sits just outside, is renowned as being Scotland’s most photographed statue. Not a bad feat! Greyfriars Bobby was the lead character in not one but two films (one of them a Walt Disney film!) He also had a wee cameo role in the 2010 Burke and Hare film with Simon Pegg. His story, however, maybe isn’t quite what you think. We’ll let you decide what you think happened here! Story 2 - Remember, you are mortal (“Memento Mori”) You’ll find out why some of the memorials have skulls and crossbones and how this helps you date gravestones. You’ll find out about the early ‘inhabitants’ of Greyfriars and what happened to the Greyfriars Friary. We’ll even use a rather exciting prop to figure out how the corpses under your feet look. Story 3 - One man, three resting places… We now ‘meet’ a famous teacher, George Buchanan. Buchanan was the teacher of the future King James VI. You’ll find out about his use of physical threats and bad language! You’ll also learn why his grave is rather peculiar… Story 4 - Harry Potter’s school George Heriot is famed for being rich and for having an even richer and very philanthropic son. Their legacy holds particular interest for visitors in the 21st century because it might well be an inspiration for a place called ‘Hogwarts’… Story 5 - The Covenanters and the Martyr’s Memorial If Greyfriars Bobby is the most famous Greyfriars ‘inmate’, then our next stop focuses on the most significant. You’ll learn about the Covenanters - who they were, what their demands were, what the ‘Killing times’ were and why they are entwined with Greyfriars Kirkyard. Stories 6 and 7 - Royal Connections - Dr Pitcairn and J.E.M. In quick succession, you’ll be introduced Dr Archibald Pitcairn and his legacy - a legacy that had profound implications on the life of his son. You’ll then find out about the most powerful person in the Kirkyard. James Douglas, Earl of Morton. The Regent Morton effectively had the power of the king, and he played a considerable role in the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots and even more so in the early part of the kingship of James VI. You’ll find out why his grave is harder to find than you might expect… Story 8 - John Kay’s caricatures It’s not all doom and gloom on this Greyfriars Kirkyard tour (although we do LOVE to tell a gory story!) Our next character is John Kay, possibly one of our favourite Old Edinburgh people. Kay was a caricaturist, and you’ll see some of his comical illustrations of Englightenment Edinburgh’s most eclectic group of people. Story 9 - The Porteous Riots Your next story is about a pioneering golfer…who was lynched! John Porteous was a captain in the Edinburgh Town Guard. He oversaw the execution of a smuggler which went badly wrong and there was a riot at the execution platform in the Grassmarket. The repercussions of this would come back to haunt Porteous. Your Edinburgh guide will tell you all about the tumultuous story of the Porteous Riots. Story 10 - Harry Potter’s pals We’ll visit the western extension of the Kirkyard, and we’ll find out about William McGonagall, the “World’s worst poet” (an unfair name we think). We’ll also take an opportunity to learn about the possible Greyfriars links to JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books. We’re a history tour…but it would be churlish to miss out on some popular culture too! If you aren’t interested in Harry Potter, don’t worry! We can introduce you to William Creech, a man who has links to Deacon William Brodie (the famous Edinburgh thief), Robert Burns and the abolition of slavery. Stories 11, 12 and 13 - Tortured spies to boring teachers! Your tour is torture! Almost literally! You’ll find out about an eighteenth-century spy - William Carstares - and the methods of torture he endured. You might even get a chance to experiment with your new-found knowledge and our very own set of thumbscrews (ooooh yes!) Within a few steps you’ll also have an opportunity to find out about the Burke and Hare murders. You might even get to inspect the memorial of the Covenanter, Alexander Henderson, to see if a historical story is true. Story 12 - The infamous Greyfriars Kirkyard ghost story Although we’re focusing on history, we can’t miss out on the story of ‘Bluidy Mackenzie’ - the most famous Greyfriars Kirkyard ghost story! Want to see the secret parts of Sir George Mackenzie’s mausoleum? We’ve got photos! Story 13 - Bodysnatchers and Burke and Hare Our tour comes to an end with the story of the bodysnatchers, the infamous ‘resurrection men’. You’ll learn how they lifted corpses and why we know so little about them. We’ll also return to the Burke and Hare story. Although Burke and Hare are renowned as ‘bodysnatchers’, we’re only sure of their role as murderers. You’ll find out why body-snatching and murdering were so closely related. Greyfriars Kirkyard has many incredible stories. We’ve gone into some detail with these notes, but the full stories are even more fascinating. This graveyard tour holds a five-star rating - we’ve not had anything BUT five-star reviews for this most macabre offering from our range of Edinburgh tours!

YOUR PRIVATE GREYFRIARS KIRKYARD TOUR

COME WITH US AND MEET THE DEAD OF OLD EDINBURGH

FIVE REASONS WHY WE THINK YOU WILL LIKE THIS TOUR!

WHY EXPLORE A BURIAL GROUND?

OUR ASSURANCES TO YOU

WHY SHOULD YOU CHOOSE US?

YOUR TOUR ITINERARY

WHAT WILL I DISCOVER ON MY KIRKYARD TOUR?

“Our tour with Robert was excellent, and we would highly recommend this informative and diverse tour. I thought I knew quite a bit of Scottish history, well now I know much more. The tour was fun, respectful, and very engaging, you should make time for this one.” ShannonB- TripAdvisor review of the Greyfriars Kirkyard tour - May 2019
“So much history, so well told”
Robert starting a tour in Greyfriars Kirkyard.

TRIPADVISOR REVIEW OF THE GREYFRIARS KIRKYARD TOUR

WHAT HAVE OUR GUESTS SAID?

Details of a memorial in Greyfriars Kirkyard.  Some 'Memento Mori' is visible. Robert Louis Stevenson.

A FINAL WORD FROM ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

WHAT DID EDINBURGH FOLK THINK OF GREYFRIARS?

Robert Louis Stevenson was a famous ‘son of Edinburgh’, remembered for novels such as ‘Treasure Island’, ‘Kidnapped’ and ‘Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’. He also wrote ‘Edinburgh - Picturesque Notes’ where he describes many of the places we take you to on our Edinburgh tours. His descriptions are ones we love! Here is a little excerpt from his chapter on Greyfriars Kirkyard; “Greyfriars is a place of many associations. There was one window in a house at the lower end, now demolished, which was pointed out to me by the gravedigger as a spot of legendary interest. Burke, the resurrection man, infamous for so many murders at five shillings a-head, used to sit there at, with pipe and nightcap, to watch burials going forward on the green. In a tomb higher up, which must then have been but newly finished, John Knox, according to the same informant, had taken refuge in a turmoil of the Reformation. Behind the church is the haunted mausoleum of Sir George Mackenzie: Bloody Mackenzie, Lord Advocate in the Covenanting troubles and author of some pleasing sentiments on toleration.”
Discover the stories behind martyred Covenanters, an amusing artist, an infamous ghost, grave robbers, the Irish murderers Burke and Hare, a tortured spy and, of course, the devoted Skye Terrier, Greyfriars Bobby! The burial ground has some truly incredibly ornate memorials, and we do look at these, but we focus more on the stories of some of the people interred here. Their stories are stories of Edinburgh’s history. Don’t forget; you’ll learn about these characters as you stand only inches away from where their mortal remains lie buried today! Are you ready to ‘meet’ the ‘Dead of Old Edinburgh’?
Our 'Good to Go' certification from Visit Britain. Our 'Good to Go' certification from Visit Britain. Tick! We do this!
QUIBBLE-FREE REFUND We offer a full refund if you cancel your tour more than 12 hours before your tour is due to start.
Tick! We do this!
‘GOOD TO GO’ CERTIFICATION We have the Visit Britain ‘Good to Go’ sign that shows we’ve implemented COVID-19 safety features.
Tick! We do this!
FRIENDLY GUIDE - IN A KILT! Robert is your local guide. He was born in Edinburgh and has lived here all his life. He researched all our tours and has an excellent knowledge of Edinburgh’s history.
Tick! We do this!
ACCESSIBILITY OPTIONS If you have someone with mobility issues, please contact us in advance so that we can offer route changes.
Tick! We do this!
PERFECT FOR CHILDREN Robert, your guide, is a qualified primary school teacher and will help keep your children engaged.
Tick! We do this!
CONVENIENCE Your tour is private - you can choose when it starts. You can ask all the questions you want to!
CONTACT US robert@historicedinburghtours.co.uk +44 (0)7590 026 077 28/2 BRIDGE ROAD EDINBURGH EH13 0LQ Registered in Scotland - SC454482
ONLINE EXPERIENCES Old Edinburgh Virtual Tour
© Historic Edinburgh Tours Ltd 2020
BOOK NOW
Call us +44 (0)7590 026 077

PRIVATE GREYFRIARS

KIRKYARD TOUR

Discover the stories of some of Old Edinburgh’s people, only inches away from where their mortal remains lie buried today!
“The past is brought vividly to life through a combination of Robert's experienced story telling, with visual aides which tell the remarkable story of the buildings, people and events of his beloved city. The best spent two hours of a packed weekend for these two first-time visitors.” Pennyslad - Tripadvisor
“A BRILLIANT TOUR!”
Discover the stories behind martyred Covenanters, an amusing artist, an infamous ghost, grave robbers, the Irish murderers Burke and Hare, a tortured spy and, of course, the devoted Skye Terrier, Greyfriars Bobby! The burial ground has some truly incredibly ornate memorials, and we do look at these, but we focus more on the stories of some of the people interred here. Their stories are stories of Edinburgh’s history. Don’t forget; you’ll learn about these characters as you stand only inches away from where their mortal remains lie buried today! Are you ready to ‘meet’ the ‘Dead of Old Edinburgh’?
QUIBBLE-FREE REFUND We offer a full refund if you cancel your tour more than 12 hours before your tour is due to start.
‘GOOD TO GO’ CERTIFICATION We have the Visit Britain ‘Good to Go’ sign that shows we’ve implemented COVID-19 safety features.
FRIENDLY GUIDE - IN A KILT! Robert is your local guide. He was born in Edinburgh and has lived here all his life. He researched all our tours and has an excellent knowledge of Edinburgh’s history.
ACCESSIBILITY OPTIONS If you have someone with mobility issues, please contact us in advance so that we can offer route changes.
PERFECT FOR CHILDREN Robert, your guide, is a qualified primary school teacher and will help keep your children engaged.
CONVENIENCE Your tour is private - you can choose when it starts. You can ask all the questions you want to!

YOUR PRIVATE

GREYFRIARS KIRKYARD TOUR

OUR ASSURANCES TO YOU

WHY SHOULD YOU CHOOSE US?

FIVE REASONS WHY WE THINK

YOU WILL LIKE THIS TOUR!

WHY EXPLORE A BURIAL GROUND?

YOUR TOUR ITINERARY

WHAT WILL I DISCOVER ON MY GREYFRIARS TOUR?

“If this is your first time in Edinburgh (actually even if it’s not), Robert’s talk is a brilliant way to start. He is a fantastic speaker, storyteller and personality. He delves back and forth in time, using great illustrations and photographs from his folder, and really makes the city come alive. One of the best walking tours I’ve ever taken; a really unforgettable experience.” Alcabe - TripAdvisor review of The Old Edinburgh Walking Tour - September, 2018
“Don’t miss this!”
Your Greyfriars Kirkyard tour itinerary Remember, your Greyfriars tour is private - you can choose when it starts! We’ve also got some flexibility with distances and elevations on the tour. Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss these alternatives. Robert, your Edinburgh tour guide, wants to give you a guided walk that interests you! In this Edinburgh walking tour, all your locations will take place within Greyfriars Kirkyard itself. We’ve outlined all the story possibilities for your visit. We may not cover them all; it depends on where your interests lie. Remember, this is YOUR tour, and we’ve got opportunities to accommodate the things you are interested in! Story 1 - Greyfriars Bobby, the faithful wee dug! You’ll find just how vital Greyfriars is to Scotland’s history and you’ll get a chance to discover the different stories behind the legend of the famous wee Skye Terrier Greyfriars Bobby! Greyfriars Bobby is, almost certainly, the most renowned creature buried here. The Greyfriars Bobby statue, which sits just outside, is renowned as being Scotland’s most photographed statue. Not a bad feat! Greyfriars Bobby was the lead character in not one but two films (one of them a Walt Disney film!) He also had a wee cameo role in the 2010 Burke and Hare film with Simon Pegg. His story, however, maybe isn’t quite what you think. We’ll let you decide what you think happened here! Story 2 - Remember, you are mortal (“Memento Mori”) You’ll find out why some of the memorials have skulls and crossbones and how this helps you date gravestones. You’ll find out about the early ‘inhabitants’ of Greyfriars and what happened to the Greyfriars Friary. We’ll even use a rather exciting prop to figure out how the corpses under your feet look. Story 3 - One man, three resting places… We now ‘meet’ a famous teacher, George Buchanan. Buchanan was the teacher of the future King James VI. You’ll find out about his use of physical threats and bad language! You’ll also learn why his grave is rather peculiar… Story 4 - Harry Potter’s school George Heriot is famed for being rich and for having an even richer and very philanthropic son. Their legacy holds particular interest for visitors in the 21st century because it might well be an inspiration for a place called ‘Hogwarts’… Story 5 - The Covenanters and the Martyr’s Memorial If Greyfriars Bobby is the most famous Greyfriars ‘inmate’, then our next stop focuses on the most significant. You’ll learn about the Covenanters - who they were, what their demands were, what the ‘Killing times’ were and why they are entwined with Greyfriars Kirkyard. Stories 6 and 7 - Royal Connections - Dr Pitcairn and J.E.M. In quick succession, you’ll be introduced Dr Archibald Pitcairn and his legacy - a legacy that had profound implications on the life of his son. You’ll then find out about the most powerful person in the Kirkyard. James Douglas, Earl of Morton. The Regent Morton effectively had the power of the king, and he played a considerable role in the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots and even more so in the early part of the kingship of James VI. You’ll find out why his grave is harder to find than you might expect… Story 8 - John Kay’s caricatures It’s not all doom and gloom on this Greyfriars Kirkyard tour (although we do LOVE to tell a gory story!) Our next character is John Kay, possibly one of our favourite Old Edinburgh people. Kay was a caricaturist, and you’ll see some of his comical illustrations of Englightenment Edinburgh’s most eclectic group of people. Story 9 - The Porteous Riots Your next story is about a pioneering golfer…who was lynched! John Porteous was a captain in the Edinburgh Town Guard. He oversaw the execution of a smuggler which went badly wrong and there was a riot at the execution platform in the Grassmarket. The repercussions of this would come back to haunt Porteous. Your Edinburgh guide will tell you all about the tumultuous story of the Porteous Riots. Story 10 - Harry Potter’s pals We’ll visit the western extension of the Kirkyard, and we’ll find out about William McGonagall, the “World’s worst poet” (an unfair name we think). We’ll also take an opportunity to learn about the possible Greyfriars links to JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books. We’re a history tour…but it would be churlish to miss out on some popular culture too! If you aren’t interested in Harry Potter, don’t worry! We can introduce you to William Creech, a man who has links to Deacon William Brodie (the famous Edinburgh thief), Robert Burns and the abolition of slavery. Stories 11, 12 and 13 - Tortured spies to boring teachers! Your tour is torture! Almost literally! You’ll find out about an eighteenth-century spy - William Carstares - and the methods of torture he endured. You might even get a chance to experiment with your new-found knowledge and our very own set of thumbscrews (ooooh yes!) Within a few steps you’ll also have an opportunity to find out about the Burke and Hare murders. You might even get to inspect the memorial of the Covenanter, Alexander Henderson, to see if a historical story is true. Story 12 - The infamous Greyfriars Kirkyard ghost story Although we’re focusing on history, we can’t miss out on the story of ‘Bluidy Mackenzie’ - the most famous Greyfriars Kirkyard ghost story! Want to see the secret parts of Sir George Mackenzie’s mausoleum? We’ve got photos! Story 13 - Bodysnatchers and Burke and Hare Our tour comes to an end with the story of the bodysnatchers, the infamous ‘resurrection men’. You’ll learn how they lifted corpses and why we know so little about them. We’ll also return to the Burke and Hare story. Although Burke and Hare are renowned as ‘bodysnatchers’, we’re only sure of their role as murderers. You’ll find out why body-snatching and murdering were so closely related. Greyfriars Kirkyard has many incredible stories. We’ve gone into some detail with these notes, but the full stories are even more fascinating. This graveyard tour holds a five-star rating - we’ve not had anything BUT five-star reviews for this most macabre offering from our range of Edinburgh tours!
Greyfriars Kirk - the church in the heart of the Kirkyard
WE’RE GOOD TO GO!

COVID-19 AND YOUR SAFETY

Historic Edinburgh Tours Ltd have achieved the ‘Good to go” standard from Visit Britain. You can find out more about our COVID-19 policy here.
Our 'Good to Go' certification from Visit Britain. Your tour information 'at a glance'.
BOOK  NOW
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© Historic Edinburgh Tours Ltd 2020
Text/Call us : +44 (0)7590 026 077
Our 'Good to Go' certification from Visit Britain.