Is this the proof that Mary King's Close really is haunted?
IT is renowned for being one of the most haunted spots in Edinburgh. But until now any concrete evidence of ghoulish goings-on underground in Mary King's Close has proved elusive.
But staff at the attraction believe a new photograph could be about to change all that, claiming it could prove once and for all the existence of spooks in the city.
The image, which appears to show a ghostly figure at the top of Mary King's Close, was taken with an infra-red camera installed to take pictures of tour groups.
It was captured just after midnight on Saturday by the attraction's general manager Stephen Spencer (pictured below), who had only taken a shot to check that the computer system gathering the photos had been switched off for the night.
Mary King's Close spokeswoman Lisa Helsby said: "There's a trigger for the camera on the wall and we usually press it last thing at night to check that everything has been switched off properly.
"We'd had some events for the Ghost Fest on this particular night, and when they'd finished, Stephen pressed the button before coming back up into the office.
"He was the only person down there and wasn't in the shot himself, so it was a total surprise when the image came through.
"If everything had been switched off properly the photo wouldn't have been taken at all, so it was a complete fluke. It's not been tampered with or altered in any way – it's exactly what was taken at that moment in time.
"It definitely looks like a ghostly person in the distance and we've had quite a few visitors who have mentioned seeing a heavy-set figure in that location before,."
Staff at the attraction have since showed the image to a number of paranormal investigators currently in Edinburgh carrying out research during the annual ghost festival. Paranormal researcher Richard Felix, a former team member and historian with TV ghost show Most Haunted, said it was "convincing".
He said: "My first impression was that it could have been someone else on a tour in the close, but I've been assured that it was taken when it was deserted.
"I don't think its been doctored and it's one of the best examples of this kind of phenomenon that I've come across during my career.
"It's especially interesting because the figure appears to have the same dimensions as other apparitions reported there over the past few years. However, I think that they need to send it away to other experts for analysis before you can comprehensively say it is a ghost or not."
Mark Turner, a paranormal investigator with Ghost Finders Scotland said the infra-red camera could pick up light the human eye could not see.
He added: "The most successful results for paranormal research appear to come when filtering out all other light except infra-red, and this photograph clearly shows a large figure appearing in a doorway."
CHARACTERS IN THE FRAME
THE hidden underground streets of Mary King's Close have been shrouded in myths and mystery for years.
The most famous resident believed to still haunt the attraction is little Annie – a young girl who was "discovered" by a medium before the close was reopened to the public.
It was claimed Annie was upset because she had lost her favourite toy, and the legend has since prompted scores of visitors to leave dolls and sweets for her in one of the rooms in the close.
Numerous sightings of unidentified male figures, a grey lady and the street's most wealthy resident, Mary King, have also been reported.
There are two historical figures cited as the possible identity of the "ghost" in the new photograph.
The first is Major Thomas Weir, otherwise known as The Wizard of West Bow, who was strangled and burnt at the stake in 1670 after publicly confessing to witchcraft, satanism and incest.
The second contender is Andrew Chesney, a saw-maker who lived in Mary King's Close and operated his business until 1892. He is believed to be the last person to live in the famous close and his workshop is shown to visitors.