The Travel Bug

Signe Trewyn's blog

A Trip Below

Posted by Signe Trewyn on May 26th, 2016


Upon setting foot in the building of the Mary King’s Close tour on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Scotland there was an expectation for the tour guide to explain the narrative its history. Tours run every fifteen minutes with tour guides dressed in 17th century clothing. Surprisingly enough, the stories about Mary King’s Close are shockingly true and they are worth exploring and reading about. A clash between tragedy, good and evil exist throughout the tour and it is not difficult to see where these themes exist.

During the first few minutes of the tour, the guide took time to talk about the events that went on with an accent and a sense of fear in his voice. This strategy allowed the audience to feel the fear and sadness of the situations described in each room.

The tour guide pointed out several people who lived in one room. Suddenly, there was yelling to alert people in the street of sewage about to be thrown in the street. The words said by the guide in a suspenseful way by capturing the stress of people living in poor conditions.

The second scene showed a man who had been beaten to death, this was so because his wife had gotten angry with him over money. His wife then ended up heading to England and other places to avoid the penalties of her actions. What the tour guide did was effective by stamping his foot on the floor to emphasize the fact that

The tour showed the Black Plague and the Bubonic Plague and the tour guide explained what happened to the people during that time and what people did to prevent the disease. The guide was suspenseful in explaining the Plague. The guide explained the situation in a low voice and by painting a tragic picture of the two diseases. Before moving on to the next room, he said the next place was supposed to be haunted, he turned his head back to the group and said it in a way that was quiet but suspenseful.

The audience was left at that final word of “haunted” which caused chills through every single person in the room. The doll, named Annie existed in the room and that is where the fear occurred when a Japanese psychic visited the doll’s shrine, the tour guide explained this. The room had a bunch of toys that were said to have been left by the psychic, there was also a lot of money on the ground.

The actual Mary King’s Close was located right at the end of the tour. At this point, this location was history at its finest because it was a long and dark hallway that brought with it a sense of fear. This place was where, the tour guide explained, a lot of the sewage was dumped into the streets, exposing those who worked and lived there. There was a workshop where a man was making saws, he was a part of the Coltheart family. There was an opportunity to look down at what the streets looked like at the time, it was dirty, wet and dark.

The tour guide went over why it was called Mary King’s Close because it was a place with a series of streets and small spaces. Suddenly, a sense of fear crept over the audience at the dark hallway. The end turned out to be the man saying the Mary King’s Close tour is officially closed.

The tour guide was effective as a whole with the early century dress and accent. The most impressive aspect of the tour guide’s talent was the fact that he could be able to scare the audience when he emphasized important words. This allowed the audience to listen to the stories being told and react to what was being said.

10 Responses to “A Trip Below”

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  10. Marek Says:

    Accompanied by a costumed guides (ours was poet Robert Ferguson – aka John), we headed down a dark staircase from the visitor’s centre and emerged into a labyrinth of underground streets connecting buildings with claustrophobic low-ceilinged rooms. The street angles steeply down towards the old Nor Loch at the bottom of the hill.

    Today it’s the Princes Street Gardens, but originally it was a marsh turned sewage dump turned spot for dunking witches. With each close being just a few metres wide, you can imagine how dark and oppressive it must have been at the bottom with buildings 1xbet towering up on either side.

    The tour took us through a series of rooms, and along the way we heard the stories of the close’s residents, from gravediggers to murderous mother-in-laws – and including Mary King herself. Closes were named after prominent local citizens and in the 1630s Mary was a fabric merchant who set up her own business after her husband died. Impressive for a woman at that time.

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