Local community group, One Dalkeith, recently hosted a guided walk around the old parts of Dalkeith, to reveal a darker side to the town’s history.
Dark Deadly Dalkeith, was hosted by local historians, Rae McGhee and Norman Brett. Tickets for the event were snapped up within eight hours of being released and the evening proved a real success.
The group listened as Rae regaled them with historic tales of Dalkeith’s medieval connection with witchcraft and how the accused met their end. Stories of hanging were then told, as they stood on the spot of the last public hanging which took place on March 1, 1827. At Bridgend, the tale of the Dalkeith poisoner was revealed.
They then moved on to a 19th century graveyard and watchtower to hear about the practice of bodysnatching, which was a fairly common occurrence in the town in the 1820s. The good people of Dalkeith could not rest peacefully in their graves for fear of being exhumed by the town’s body snatchers who sold the dead bodies for money at Edinburgh University’s Medical School. The group finished their tour and calmed their shattered nerves at the Dalkeith Museum.
Beth Godfrey said: “I grew up here and know so little of the past. I don’t like the idea of our history being lost, atown losing its heritage. Having a sense of place is so important for looking forward.”
Rosemary Duffy added: “Getting to visit the watchtower in the old graveyard was really interesting. The graveyard has been locked as long as I lived here so I’ve never had the chance before.”