The Vaults

The Vaults

The Vaults 616 1024 Stuart Wight

The Edinburgh Vaults which are also known as the South Bride Vaults are arched chambers built under the South bride of Edinburgh. With the bride’s competition those vaults became a home for different sets of crafts people such as cobblers, businesses run by traders both selling and storing their goods there as well as many taverns that people would visit.

After a while they have become abandoned by its original occupants and have been replaced by homeless people and various criminal/illegal activities like gambling and the body snatchers of Edinburgh’s dark past with the vaults being rumoured to have been the store area for their corpses.


As Edinburgh was expanding in its growth for more land and infrastructure it begun building two brides to connect the land from which people travelled from. The two brides built where the South and the North bridges which are referred to by the people of Edinburgh as the bridges.

The South bridge connected Old Town and Southside of the city together due to the desire to increase the wealth of the city through a shopping street which was built on the land of Southside.

The way in which the bridge was constructed resulted in 19 arches covering the land under it and with space around it being utilised more efficiently by buildings it has been walled off with only one arch still being open which is the Cowgate arch.

With the enclosed arches industries begun to move in added floors into the arches creating more rooms to house storage also giving areas for people to sell and manufacture with close to 120 rooms know as vaults.

Downfall of the Vaults

Due to the bridge’s rushed construction the water sealing was not adequate and the vaults begun to start flooding with people starting to abandon the vaults. Nearly 10 years later the vaults begun to change into a slum area as the homeless moved in due to the industry moving out resulting in more illegal activity taking places in that abandoned part of the city.

Examples of the “industries” that have replaced it original counter parts would include:

  • illegal whiskey distilleries.
  • gambling dens.
  • pubs.
  • brothels.

With the notorious serial killers Burke and Hare who body snatched and kidnapped people to sell their bodies and body parts for doctors to perform anatomical studies, the vaults have been rumoured to store the corpses of their victims as they terrorised the city.

Modern day uses

Today the vaults are primarily used as a tourist attractions and other kinds of entertainment utility with the ghost and scare tours, a private hire wedding and party venue called The Caves and during the Edinburgh Festival taking place in the summer which shows and artistic displace are featured within the vaults.


If you would like to know more about The Vaults here is the Wiki or if you would like to try one of our tours that will take you to The Vaults and other sites in Edinburgh come to our tours page

To find out more about the attractions and places to see we have created a list to help you decide on some the best that Edinburgh has to offer Edinburgh Tourist Attractions.

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