By Marty Mulrooney
On a recent holiday with my girlfriend in Edinburgh (Scotland, UK), I went on a ghost tour that truly chilled me to the bone. The City Of The Dead Haunted Graveyard Tour seemed fun enough to begin with, but soon I was feeling icy cold, panicked and even thought somebody touched my neck! (Nobody was there, I checked!) Please bear in mind that I started the tour as a somewhat dubious participant!
The graveyard itself was spooky enough, but when our guide opened the gates to the Black Mausoleum at the rear of the site (closed off from the public due to random fainting supposedly caused by the Mackenzie Poltergeist) I immediately felt uneasy and quite spooked out!
I found the tour fascinating and even bought a book about the supernatural goings-on in the area by Jan-Andrew Henderson, the founder of the tour company (Black Hart Entertainment).
Just in time for Halloween, Alternative Magazine Online now has the great pleasure to speak to J. A. Henderson directly, and find out some more about the tours that the Sunday Times recommended in their review as:
The WEIRDEST history with the WILDEST stories and WICKEDEST humour!
Hi! Could you tell me a bit about yourself please Jan?
Sure! I started Black Hart Entertainment and the City of the Dead eight years ago and before that I was a tour guide for many years. I still run the City of the Dead but I also write supernatural and history books and children’s thrillers. You can get more information via my site at www.janandrewhenderson.com
What is the history of City of the Dead tours?
We wanted to start a tour exploring the Mackenzie Poltergeist in Greyfriar’s Graveyard. It’s now the best documented supernatural case of all time, so I guess we must have annoyed it! We also run walking tours into Edinburgh’s Legendary Underground City. It’s dark down there. Perfect!
Where about do the tours take place?
They start from a big black sign at St Giles Cathedral and go to either Greyfriar’s Graveyard or the Underground City. Sometimes both, if we’re in the mood!
Why do you think Edinburgh is such a hot-spot for paranormal activity?
It has got a bloody history and lots of places that look the same as they did centuries ago. But I also think it likes that reputation. People here are always on the lookout for ghosts, so we get a lot more sightings than other cities.
What is Black Hart Entertainment’s most popular tour?
Has to be the graveyard tour. You wouldn’t think a graveyard would have such an incredible history, but the things that went on there beggars belief!
What is the spookiest thing you have witnessed personally so far on the tours?
I saw a man flung into the air by something nobody could see. It was quite funny really! At least, I thought so. He was less amused!
Do the tour guides play it straight or try to bring some humour to the tour?
I leave it up to them. Some are funny. Some do it dead-pan. We count on the poltergeist to provide the scares and it rarely disappoints.
Some tours hire jumper-outers, does City of the Dead do this?
We do. But don’t tell anyone. It spoils the surprise. Ah… too late now!
Does the Halloween period lend the tours and Edinburgh itself a spookier atmosphere?
It does. People get all psyched about it and we get a lot of them freaking out when something supernatural happens.
What special events does the company have during this time?
We just put on lots of extra tours. The places we go are creepy enough that we don’t have to embellish our Halloween stuff!
Can you tell us a bit about the Mackenzie Poltergeist?
Like I say, it’s the best documented supernatural case of all time. You don’t see it but it cuts, scratches, burns, bites and knocks people out. One hundred and eighty knockouts so far. We have over 80 pages of eyewitness accounts detailing its attacks.
Can you tell us about your book, The Ghost That Haunted Itself? (Note: I have a signed copy sitting on my desk, I thought it was great!)
Thank you! It is basically the story of the Mackenzie Poltergeist but it’s quite dated now. A week after it came out for instance, my house in the graveyard burned down. Talk about a bad review! The poltergeist obviously didn’t like it.
What would you say makes City of the Dead tours stand out from the crowd?
Apart from the great locations, it’s all down to the guides. We only pick the very best and then let them do their thing. They don’t have scripts. They’re just great storytellers.
What is next for you Mr Henderson?
My new book is a horror about a ghost tour company who find themselves under assault from the very entity they tried to exploit. Let’s just say it’s based on a true story!
Thank you for your time!
No problem Marty!
With Halloween just around the corner, why don’t you check out your local area to see if there are any ghost tours running? I found this one a lot of fun!
Jan-Andrew Henderson was the winner of The Royal Mail Book Award 2008. For more info about Black Hart Entertainment and the Haunted Graveyard Tour, please visit their official website: http://www.blackhart.uk.com/