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Learning English - Beyond the Postcard
  Edinburgh audio

Mary King's Close
Mary King's Close is the remains of a mediaeval street that now lies buried underneath Edinburgh City Chambers. It has a dark history and is believed by many to be haunted.

Listen to the interview with Gordon Stewart, from Mercat Tours in Edinburgh then choose the correct words for each gap from the selections on the right.

  Edinburgh The Black Lady?
 
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Why was Mary King's Close buried?
For centuries Mary King's Close was just like any other street, any close or wind in the old town. But by the 18th Century it was very derelict and so the city authorities decided to build on top of it. But rather than (...1...) the whole street they only (...2...) part of it, leaving a large wedge of Mary King's Close hidden underneath the brand new building.
   

 

 
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Mary King's Close and the Black Death (plague)
When the outbreak of the plague (...3...) 1645 there were about 500 or so citizens living and working inside Mary King's Close. Roughly half of them were either dead or dying of the disease. The other half were still healthy but because it was an unlucky place, because they were poor and perhaps less important it was decided to act. The 500 or so were locked into their homes, quarantined if you like. But in effect this meant that they were (...4...) their houses and the places they worked which now became their tombs. If dead already then so be it, if alive they soon wouldn't be.
 
   

 
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Annie, the Mary King's Close ghost
Because of the horrors of plague the legends of Mary King's Close have grown and grown over the centuries since 1645. Perhaps the most famous story of a haunting is that of a little girl. Nicknamed Annie, she's been seen by many people over the centuries and there's one room in particular that she is said to haunt. Psychics and mediums and those that claim to be able to speak to spirits have said that she was there in the street in 1645. She didn't live in Mary King's Close she had the misfortune to be walking up or down it when the city guards came and the street was (...5...) from the rest of Edinburgh's citizens. As a result she's a very melancholy, lonely ghost. And over the years people have tried to (...6...) by leaving dolls, toys, sweeties - things that can still be seen today in the hope that perhaps her long stay in Mary King's Close is more pleasant.
 
   

 

 

 
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Strange experiences
All of our guides experience strange things over the years. And we've (...7...) how many odd things have happened. Perhaps the most strange thing is people hear footsteps walking up and down the empty street. On other occasions there is a very famous figure called the Black Lady, because she's wearing a black dress and quite a few of us have thought that we've seen this figure although we're rather scared when we go down. When the light bulbs have to be changed we always go in twos, not on our own. So our imagination could be (...8...) us.

Links for more information
Mercat Tours - Ghost and History tours in Scotland
Guided Tour of Mary King's Close
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