Mary Kings Close

Located in the heart of Edinburgh, Mary Kings Close is one of the many now-underground streets from the old town which were built over during modernisation. Though difficult to understand today, it wasn’t always underground - this was a bustling and vibrant street full of traders and residents back in it’s day but simply lost to time and modernisation. Some historical documents aslso refer to this street as King’s Close, or Alexander King’s Close and recent research has discovered the buildings on this close were sometimes seven or eight stories tall.

How old is Mary Kings Close

Mary Kings Close is over 400 years old and once was one of the busiest streets in Edinburgh.

Why was Mary Kings Close built over

To understand why Mary Kings Close was built over we need to understand a little of Old Edinburgh, the city of Edinburgh was on a much steeper slant than it is today. The King’s castle was located at the top, aristocracy located near the castle and as you got lower and lower so did your status (and altitude!). During the modernisation, things were leveled out somewhat and as such, the close was simply built atop of. Mary Kings Close formed the foundation of The Royal Exchange, built in the 18th century. Partially demolished and buried, yet largely untouched as it was closed to the public for many years.

How did Mary King’s close get its name

Like many other streets and closes, it was named after a prominent and local historical figure, Mary King (also known as Alexendar King), a wealthy merchant bergeous. Unlike many of the others, Mary King close was named after a female historical figure making it quite unique.

Paranormal activity on Mary King’s Close

The area is a must-visit for fans and investigators of the paranormal. The close is home to tales of multiple hauntings, folklore, urban legends, and myths. In fact, it’s often cited as one of the top haunted locations in the world.

The Plague

In 1645 the close changed forever. The plague struck and legend has it the local council at the time decided it safest to contain the plague by bricking up the close, trapping the victims and letting them die inside.

The Coltheart Family

The first historical paranormal sighting in the close was by Thomas Coltheart, a wealthy lawyer, and his family. Among those to first return to the close after the last outbreak of the plague in 1685, the family were driven mad by images of disembodied limbs and apparitions they dubbed “phantom energies”.


In 1992, just after the re-discovery of this particular close, famous Psychic medium Akio Gibo visited. He claimed he was drawn, pulled, ushered to a particular room, now dubbed “Annie’s Room”. Aiko Gibo famously said he didn’t actually want to visit but felt compelled by the loneliness of this particular spirit and felt he needed to help. Akio Gibo discovered during session with the spirit that it was just a little girl, one of many others abandoned and alone with no comfort, left there to die during the plague. He felt to finally give the spirit some rest she needed some comfort, so he left the area to head to the streets to buy her a doll, a Barbie doll – hugely popular with kids in the 1990s to assist her in the afterlife. Akio Gibo claims Annie held his hand at many points, and many visitors since have claimed to feel the same tugging of their hands, as if Annie is saying hello. Today many visitors leave gifts of toys and money, the money is donated to the Edinburgh hospital for sick children so that they may never experience the loneliness Annie felt.


Additional and recent use

During WWII it found use as an air-raid shelter. It is now home to a fantastically informative tour and open to the public.