Deep beneath the cobbled streets of the Scottish capital, Edinburgh, lies a dank and forgotten realm where prostitutes once rubbed shoulders with body snatchers and the light of day never penetrated. The thousands of subterranean citizens moved out long ago leaving the Edinburgh Vaults underneath the city's South Bridge alone with its multitude of ghosts until it was rediscovered in 1985.
There are no written records of who lived in these vaults, although there is ample anecdotal evidence that thousands of people lived here, some probably never even seeing the outside world. The chances are that few of the people who lived in the Georgian part of the city above knew they were there. The existence of the vaults were wiped from the city's records.
The vaults were formed from the 19 arches of the South Bridge, built between 1785 and 1788, across the Cowgate ravine as the cramped ancient city began to expand. In the
NOTE: While some of the characters and events depicted in this story were inspired by well-known historical figures and events, the portrayal of such characters and the depiction of such events are fictional. All other characters and incidents portrayed and names used were created for the purpose of fictitious dramatization and any similarity to the names, characters, and history of actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and unintentional.
City of the Unseen © 2001 Cinemaddiction. All Rights Reserved.
16th C, the Cowgate area was a very fashionable place just outside the city gates. Today it is a forlorn underpass as the South Bridge towers over it. At the time the bridge was built, the land under it was excavated for several floors of rooms and undeground chambers, virtually forgotten until recently. Bricked in and built around, the vaults became a warren of nooks, crannies and tunnels forming the historic city's underworld. There was almost a whole city down there but no sign at all of it on the surface. People lived, worked and died down there.
Evidence has been found of wine storage, leather works and a multitude of small businesses and living quarters for the city's unwanted and unseen poor. But there were also other less legitimate pastimes beneath the feet of Edinburgh's gentry. It is known that, in 1815, before being sealed off, there was an illegal whisky distillery operating there, and it is highly probable that there was also a brothel.
It is also believed that parts of the vaults were used to store cadavers either dug from fresh graves or plucked from the streets and sold to Edinburgh's Medical School, whose appetite for bodies for dissection was endless and unquestioning. The city's notorious body snatchers, William Burke and William Hare, are believed to have used the vaults from time to time to store their grisly merchandise before deciding that digging was too much trouble and turning to killing instead.
Arthur Conan Doyle, inventor of the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, learned his anatomy during training some years later at the Medical School and is known to have visited the vaults from time to time as a young doctor.
The vaults vary from the cavernous to the cramped. They contained families of 7-10 people in rooms the size of a small bedroom with no ventilation or windows. There is no, nor was there ever, running water or sanitation. The only liquid that penetrated the unlit and airless caverns was likely to be whatever seeped through from the streets above where, in the habit of the era, households would dump their sewage. Stale waste from garbage and chamber pots were emptied into the streets after the 10PM curfew each night. Water for cooking and washing had to be carried by hand down the winding tunnels each day. Wine rather than water was the drink of choice as the water was too polluted, and there was a thriving import trade in red wine from France.
On the positive side, the temperature in the vaults is fairly constant, insulated from the outside world by meters of brick and mortar. But even so the atmosphere inside would have been choking with open fires for heat and cooking, and fish-oil lamps providing what light there was. Candles were for the rich, not the people of the vaults.
All that is left now of the subterranean citizens of yesteryear are the ghosts which range from little dogs to young girls and even practicing bottom-pinchers.
The vaults have been declared probably the most psychically active place in the United Kingdom and described as one of the most haunted places in the UK, as well as the world.
The Edinburgh Vaults will serve as the backdrop for a story that follows Dr. Patricia Luray, a paranormal researcher and renowned psychic, who is called in to investigate ghostly sightings in the Edinburgh Vaults. Instead, she is psychically pulled into 1808 Scotland by the lingering presence of a young girl named Rose. Unseen by all but the girl, Dr. Luray discovers that Rose's family harbors a dark, macabre secret. A secret so sinister, Dr. Luray must find a way to convince Rose to abandon her home in the vaults before the body snatchers find her.
CITY OF THE UNSEEN
created by Dennis Alfrey
written by Dennis Alfrey & Sean Bannister
developed exclusively for Cinemaddiction