The Old Town of Edinburgh is honeycombed with cellars, passages, and tunnels. These subterranean labyrinths are home to ancient horrors long forgotten by the residents. Great-hand is one of these.
Great-hand lives in the tunnel beneath the Royal Mile, stretching from the Castle to the Palace of Holyrood. Once used by soldiers for surprise attacks, it eventually fell into disuse. Then Great-hand moved in and the passage was abandoned completely. Nobody ever left the tunnel alive.
The only thing that has ever been seen of Great-hand is a hand – an enormous grisly hand, with fingernails like the claws of an eagle. If that hand is attached to a body, none have seen it.
After a while of avoiding the tunnel, a piper declared he would cross the tunnel, playing his pipes the whole way to verify his progress. Taking his dog along with him, he entered through the cave near the Castle, and the sound of his pipes could be heard traveling underground as he went down the hill. Then, at the Heart of Midlothian, the music stopped. The attending crowd went back to the entrance of the cave to see the dog running out in abject terror, completely hairless. The passage was blocked up from both ends.
Similar stories are told across Scotland involving haunted caves, foolhardy pipers, and dogs shedding their hair with fright. They are cautionary tales warning of the perils of the underground.
Fleming, M. (2002) Not of this World: Creatures of the Supernatural in Scotland. Mercat Press, Edinburgh.