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–Labyrinth of Ancient Edinburgh Streets 2003-01-22

Posted by clype in Humanities, Scotland.

The entrance to a labyrinth of streets beneath Edinburgh has re-opened, more than 350 years after it was sealed off during an outbreak of plague.

Workmen have knocked through the floor of the city's council headquarters to expose the entrance to the redeveloped Mary King's Close. Local folklore says the narrow 17th century staircase beneath the City Chambers is where the council closed off 400 plague victims to die in 1645.

The ghost of a young girl who died from the disease is still said to haunt the area. The redevelopment is due to open at Easter [2003] as a tourist attraction.

Developers, the Continuum Group, say one of the Close's main features will be a recreation of the death-bed scene of a plague-infected family. A spokesman said:


'We have a lot of evidence about a family called the Craigs, the father of which was a grave-digger.

'They unfortunately succumbed to the plague and we have been able to recreate in great detail their death-bed scene. There is a lot of gruesomeness, but it is very historically accurate'.

There will also be recreations of a poor house, town house and the house of Mary King.

Researchers have pieced together a picture of the life of the wealthy landlord's daughter from details in her will.

The upper stories of the streets were demolished in the 1750s to make way for the City Chambers building, but the remains of the lower floors stayed preserved underground.

Small groups of visitors have been able to tour the hidden streets, but it wasn't until last year 2002 that the council decided to turn the Close into a permanent attraction.

The Developers hope to attract 60 000 visitors in its first year.

Ananova 2003-01-21 Tu 12:31



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