Prepare for a scare at the Edinburgh Dungeon
Prepare for a scare at the Edinburgh Dungeon

Prepare for a scare with the Cramond Killer

Bloody-curdling horrors are being brought to life with the latest technology in the heart of Scotland’s capital.

The Edinburgh Dungeon has today launched its first-ever VR experience, inspired by the real-life story of the execution and public dissection of John Howison, a 19th century Edinburgh murderer more commonly known as the Cramond Killer.

Not for the faint-hearted, the squeamish simulation has been developed by Aberdeen-based VFX specialists, Black Wing Studios, to launch the attraction’s seasonal Easter show Asylum.

Using 360 degree technology in a haunting, cinematic VR video, users will be plunged deep into 19th century Edinburgh, where Howison is about to be publicly dissected, much to the delight of a zealous audience eager to see this barbaric murderer brought to an end.

But Howison has escaped, and the Anatomist, keen to not let the frenzied crowd miss out on the ‘show’, turns to the VR user instead and knocks them over the head, rendering them unconscious and vulnerable to the Anatomist’s whims.

Prepare for a scare at the Edinburgh Dungeon

The user wakens a short time later to the horror of being tied down on an operating table, before the Anatomist proceeds to cut them open and carry out the gory procedure.

The fully immersive experience uses the highest quality cinematic VR equipment, and packed full of jump scares and the horror of wakening up under the knife, takes users on a virtual journey of tension and fear.
Edward Evans, general manager at The Edinburgh Dungeon, said: ‘The story of John Howison is equally appalling and fascinating.

‘He is believed to be the last British criminal whose body was handed over to medical schools for dissection and also the first to plead insanity for their actions, so we want to give visitors to the Dungeon a real “feel” of what he might have experienced, through the power of VR’s immersion.

‘Virtual Reality is a natural fit for horror, and as users come face to face with our Anatomist and realise they are about to be cut up on the table – let’s just say it’s not a video for the squeamish. We believe this is the first time VR has been used from the eyes of the ‘victim’, so we will have a first aider on hand to assist if anyone finds the whole experience a bit too much!’

On 21 January 1831, John Howison – known as the Cramond murderer – entered the home of widow Marta Geddes and brutally killed her with a garden spade, almost severing her head in two during the gruesome attack.

His defence pushed for a plea of insanity, rejected due to lack of medical evidence, and Howison was hanged and subsequently handed over to The University of Edinburgh to be dissected for medical science. The last public dissection to take place in the Capital before the Anatomy Act of 1832 put a stop to the tradition – the inspiration behind The Edinburgh Dungeon’s new chilling experience.

Nurse Nadia Anderson, 37, from Glasgow took part in the simulation. She said: ‘I’ve never seen any virtual reality videos before so wasn’t sure what to expect, and I can safely say I won’t forget it in a hurry. I didn’t think I was squeamish being a nurse, but the sounds effects and visuals in the video made it feel so real – and completely gross.’

The VR experience is available to view at The Edinburgh Dungeon, 31 Market Street, until 16 April (subject to availability).