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New Book Will Uncover Stories Behind Historic Graveyard

Thursday March 23 2023

A new book uncovering the stories behind one of Scotland’s most iconic graveyards will be launched next month.

The Dead Centre of Edinburgh: Stories about Greyfriars Kirkyard has been produced by the Friends of Greyfriars Kirkyard, with support from Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh World Heritage, and Edinburgh City Council. It will be launched on April 28 with a day of activities at the churchyard.

The graveyard of Greyfriars Kirk - a magnet for tourists from all over the world for its associations with Greyfriars Bobby and the Harry Potter novels – is the final resting place of many notable figures including the famous/notorious poet William McGonagall, architect James Craig, and leading figures of the Scottish Enlightenment.

It is also historically significant as the location of the signing of the Scottish Covenant, opposing Charles I’s proposed reforms of the Church of Scotland, in 1638. Nearly 40 years later, part of the graveyard was used as a prison for Covenanters captured at the Battle of Bothwell Bridge. Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh (‘Bloody Mackenzie’), the advocate who led the persecution of Covenanters in Scotland, is also buried there.

The new book uncovers the stories behind the Kirkyard’s spectacular monuments to the great and the good, as well as some of the lesser-known people buried there.

On the day of the launch, members of the Friends of Greyfriars Kirkyard will be on hand to answer questions in an ‘Ask A Friend’ session from 1-3.45pm, before the launch itself from 4-5.30pm. The event will include talks by some of the guidebook’s contributors.

That will be followed at 7pm by a community engagement session, including a walk around the Kirkyard, which will bring some of the guidebook’s most compelling stories to life. The session is free but places are limited.

You can reserve a space on the community engagement session at Eventbrite.

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