THE IMPOSING NIDDRY STREET VAULTS
Poltergeist and demonic activity, a sacrificial circle, people being scratched or attacked and audio recordings of the last rites have been captured and experienced in what is classed as one of the most haunted locations in the UK.
But what lay in store for Real Or Otherside as we ventured under the streets of Edinburgh in to the infamous Niddry Street Vaults …
Booked as part of the birthday celebrations for Rick, co-founder of Real Or Otherside, we had sole access to all areas of the vaults from 11pm until 4am on Saturday 9th June. Rick and Mike were joined for the investigation by The Pinstripe Medium, Sam, Debbie, Max and James – who have all previously investigated with us.
The vaults themselves are a series of chambers that lay underneath the South Bridge, completed in 1788, in Edinburgh and for around 30 years the vaults were used to house taverns, cobblers and other tradesmen. The vaults also have a darker side though and were reportedly used to store the bodies of notorious grave robbers turned serial killers Burke and Hare. Fairly quickly conditions in the vaults deteriorated, due to damp and poor air quality, and the businesses left. They were then more commonly used for slum housing, petty crime and prostitution. In 1835 the vaults were purged of their inhabitants, filled in, and forgotten.
They were rediscovered less than 20 years ago by a drunken student, living adjacent to the vaults, who knocked a hole in his wall – in turn accidentally unveiling the hidden vaults.
The vaults have been investigated by countless paranormal groups and a number of TV shows including Most Haunted and Ghost Adventures. In 2009 the "King Of The Jungle," Joe Swash, decided to spend the night alone in the vaults – he lasted four hours. The most interesting aspect of his stay was the capture, unknown to him at the time, of what appears to be 20 minutes of audio of an unseen Catholic priest reciting the ‘Last Rites!’
During the investigation we captured 7 hours of video/audio on our night-vision camcorders. After the initial review process we had logged 18 potential pieces of paranormal evidence which, after secondary analysis and enhancement, were short-listed to 7 'hits' which we are presenting here.
Each 'hit' is graded against our R.O.O. SCALE and provides a guide as to how unusual we believe it to be. Ultimately only you can decide if what you're seeing is of paranormal origin or not. More details on how we analyse, review and present evidence can be found in our Techniques section.
EVIDENCE SUMMARY VIDEO
Rather than you having to sit through the hours of footage we capture on location, which does not make the most interesting of viewing, we have produced a video containing the evidence highlights from the investigation. It is important to point out however that whilst the footage is condensed into a digestible format what you see and hear is as it happened on location.
The only modifications made during the editing process are volume increases for some of the low-level audio hits and minor footage cuts to provide a compressed version of events.
Now sit back, relax, watch the video and decide for yourself … is it Real Or Otherside?
We use the technology available to us on every investigation in the hope of capturing any "hits" so these can then be presented to you as evidence. However, we often have experiences that aren't, or cannot be, captured by our equipment. We refer to these as "personal experiences" and present these now along with our thoughts on the location itself.
I am old… it's official That said, this year I used old age as an excuse to investigate what I believed would be one of the scariest locations we had ever investigated. Along with some great friends, I entered the vaults with much trepidation – only to end the evening somewhat underwhelmed by the location and activity. It was like the Ancient Ram Inn all over again!My first visit to the vaults was a few years back, during the day. At the time I had a very unnerving experience (more mental than physical – but genuine nether the less), leading me to shortlist the vaults as a 'must investigate' location. The vaults felt generally pleasant during the course of our investigation, and even the stone circle (enter and be scratched by a demonic force) failed to live up to expectation – with virtually all investigators entering the circle, requesting proof and receiving little more than a tickle, let alone a scratch.
I'm not trying to be flippant, and most of the above is perhaps rather tongue in cheek. That said, I guess we're now at a point where we are truly looking for that one bit of evidence as an incentive to continue our search – and I really thought that the demonic forces 'renowned' to be present in Niddry Street vaults, would provide that evidence.
When all is said and down however, there were definitely one or two interesting occurrences during the evening. At one point (with only four investigators remaining on-site), whilst in a circle discussing the evening, we heard a very distinct footstep right next to us. It was as clear as any auditory phenomenon I've ever experienced, and I have no rational explanation for it.
In addition to this was the multiple temperature changes recorded throughout the evening on our Mel-Meter. As I recall the ambient temperature of the vaults was around 14-16ºC (depending on which room you were in), yet with the Mel in a fixed location we had three or four instances where the device alarmed to let us know that there had been a temperature deviation by +/- 5ºC. On each occasion the device was reset to the prevailing ambient temperature, yet continued to report large fluctuations.
Even more perplexing was that after enabling the record function on the Mel (records the Maximum and Minimum Temp/EMF readings), we were astonished to discover it had not only recorded a 1MG EMF spike (significant only as there we're no electrics anywhere near the device), but it had recorded a temperature variance from +62.5ºC to -20.3ºC.
We had a locked off camera on the Mel at all times, however upon review we could see no unusual 'visible' activity around the device when the fluctuations occurred. Clearly an 80ºC temperature variation is all but impossible, leaving the only possible conclusion as device fault, or intervention from the Otherside! … but which, we will never know….
When Rick and Sam returned from Edinburgh in 2011 they said how much the Niddry Street Vaults had unnerved them – even in the daytime. Rick told me how he had felt whilst in the vaults and said he wouldn't be in any rush to go back. As is always the case when Rick says he doesn't want to do something then it makes me want to do it even more – not that we're competitive or anything!
My initial feelings when stepping inside the vaults weren't anything out of the ordinary. I have been to other locations across the UK and definitely felt stranger but perhaps this was due to the distant music from the club upstairs making us feel at ease? There were knocks and bangs during the course of the evening and as usual, both at the time and on the evidence review, we did everything possible to discount these as pipes, water or noise from the club upstairs. Whilst the majority we could discount there were some that didn't have the same distinctive tone and, on one occasion, even sounded like a hard footstep on the floor!
We had an instance of shadow movement on the MEL-METER and were able to rule out any light sources as the cause. On subsequent investigations we have noticed the LCD from the camcorder can set it off but looking at the footage there are no LCD's pointing in the direction of the doorway when the shadow detector went off – and everyone in the group can be accounted for!
There were also numerous instances of temperature changes across the night. Having checked this with again these are confirmed as being +/- 5ºc shifts – not something that can necessarily be classed as "normal?"
The strangest thing for me though was the massive temperature fluctuations recorded by the MEL-METER. It was placed in the corridor all night and logged the maximum temperature as +62.5ºC and minimum as -20.3ºC! These are massive shifts and are surely something we would have all felt in the vaults – unless of course it was localised near the MEL-METER? There is also the question of whether it was due to the battery running out or, some might argue, being drained. The MEL-METER is a high-tech, expensive piece of equipment and should not be prone to this kind of problem – showing my age here but gone are the days of playing cassette tapes where they slow down because the batteries are running out. This device should run at maximum performance, recording accurate results, until the battery is fully depleted?
Edinburgh is a fascinating place steeped in history and we were lucky enough to be able to appreciate a fraction of it with walks round Greyfriars Kirk, the Real Mary Kings Close and the Blair Street Vaults. If you ever get the chance to investigate the Niddry Street Vaults I would say to do so and I hope, if we are in Edinburgh again, we can investigate it once more along with Blair Street!
If you have any questions or comments on the above analysis or methodologies employed please feel free to post below, or click here to use our feedback form and contact us directly.