Edinburgh Castle was erected at the top of Castle Rock (an extinct volcano), during the reign of David I in the 12th century. Until 1633, it was mainly used as a home for Scottish royalty. By the time the 17th century came around, however, the function of the castle had changed to a military barracks, housing a large percentage of the city’s troops. Today, Edinburgh Castle is of great historical value to the country, and one of its most popular tourist attractions.
When observing the castle from below, it is possible to see ancient metal doors at the main structure’s base. These secret tunnels lead from Edinburgh Castle along the Royal Mile, which is the distance between the castle and city. Their purpose has remained a mystery, however, and speculation has led to more questions than answers. Were the tunnels made so that the rulers could enter and leave the castle without anybody else’s knowledge? Were they intended as a safe place during an attack? At least one of them is thought to lead to Holyrood House, which was the home of Mary, Queen of Scots, from 1561-1567, was this a way for those residents to visit the castle?
In a city where hauntings are a regular part of life, Edinburgh Castle is considered to have more than
its fair share of ghosts. The dungeons are rumoured to contain the spirits of those that were imprisoned there, and the tunnels also retain their previous guests. When they were first discovered centuries ago, a young boy was sent to explore the corridors. He took his pipe in order to play while he roamed the unfamiliar path, so that those above could track his progress through the music. When he was estimated to be about half way between the castle and the city, his piping abruptly stopped. A number of search parties were sent to look for him, but neither the boy nor his instrument were ever found. Nicknamed the ‘Lone Piper,’ his forlorn music continues to drift through the castle and the streets above, at various unexplained intervals.
Another version of the tale is that the tunnels are home to a drummer boy, who appears headless and beats out his forgotten rhythm. It is said that his ghost only materialised before the city was attacked, and even though the city’s residents were fond of him they are happy that he hasn’t been seen in many years. To them this is an indication of the city’s continued safety.
In the 1990s, a more modern tunnel system was constructed to provide vehicular access to the castle. This facilitates supplies being carried in without inconveniencing visitors at all. It is possible that in 100 years, the paranormal inhabitants of these relatively new tunnels might be the current suppliers of Edinburgh’s famous castle.