Many of us have heard of the famous Greyfriars Bobby (please stop booping its snoot for good luck, though), a loyal dog who wouldn’t leave his owner’s grave. However, Greyfriars Kirkyard is also one of the most haunted places in Edinburgh, as well as home to the graves of the names of some of the most famous Harry Potter characters.
Rumour has it J. K. Rowling took inspiration from Edinburgh’s famous spots, such as Victoria Street becoming Diagon Alley, or characters’ names being inspired by the gravestones at Greyfriars Kirkyard. Visitors can find the likes of Sirius Black, Robert Potter, William McGonagall and even Lord Voldemort himself, Thomas Riddell.
Greyfriars Kirkyard is located in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town just a few minutes walk from the National Museum of Scotland. Greyfriars Kirk was founded in 1620, being the first church to be built in the post-reformation period.
As the Kirkyard has been used as a burial site since the late 16th century, it’s been shrouded in mystery with more than 500 recorded poltergeist sightings, ranking the fourth most haunted place in Edinburgh on our list.
Who were the famous names in real life?
Thomas Riddell was a general in real life, who died on November 24, 1806, at the age of 72. William McGonagall was, actually, known as one of the worst poets in Scotland. Those interested in reading his most famous works can check out ‘The Tay Bridge Disaster’, based on a terrible rail crash in Dundee.
Observant visitors can also find the names of Scrymgeour (Rufus Scrimgeour in the book), Cruikshanks (Hermione Granger’s cat, Crookshanks), as well as a family of Potters and a family with the name Black.
What is more, J.K. Rowling has previously spoken reading Edinburgh, saying: “Edinburgh is very much home for me and is the place where Harry evolved over seven books and many, many hours of writing in its cafés.”
People say she spent most of her time writing Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone at The Elephant House café with excellent views over Greyfriars Kirkyard, however, she also spent time in other cafes around the city as she liked to move around. It has also been confirmed the writer spent time in Spoon, also known as Nicholson’s Cafe, as it was owned by Rowling’s brother-in-law. Plus, it has also been confirmed she wrote at Traverse Theatre Cafe on Cambridge Street during the early days.
Those who wish to hear some scary stories of Greyfriars Kirkyard can check out our ghost tours list, with plenty of tours taking guests to the spot, as well as many others.