Freaky Fridays : Investigating Holyrood Park (Witches Circle & Murder Site)

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Holyrood Park – April 2016

It’s Friday again, and that means that it is time for another Freaky Friday post! I’ve got so many previous investigations to write-up, but this week I want to skip ahead to a mini investigation from last weekend because it was so unexpected and very interesting!

Usually the investigations that I go on begin at around 9pm and continue until 3am or later depending on the location. However, this one was 6pm until 9pm, so it was still light out. It came about rather unexpectedly, I’ve been following the Edinburgh Paranormal Investigation Society on Facebook for a while now and they have a lot of these short outdoor events going on. My sister has been having .a rough time of late and I decided we would have a wee night out and go for something to eat and a chat. Then I noticed that EPIS were doing an investigation in Holyrood Park and it was only going to cost £5. Since we are both witches the ritual stones were of particular interest to us. We had never investigated with the group before, but figured it was £5 so if we weren’t feeling it then it was all good! Needless to say we were not at all disappointed!

The Witches Ritual Stones

The first location that we were to investigate was the witches ritual stones – a stone circle in Holyrood Park. I had no idea that this place even existed, but it was beautiful and the energy was so amazing. We could really feel the energy pulsing through the ground. The park is within a volcano and also has ley lines crossing through it as well so it is certainly a place of power!

Investigating 30 East Drive [Freaky Fridays]

FreakyFridaysWelcome to another Freaky Friday here at A Life Lived in Words. Today I am actually sharing with you one of my more recent paranormal investigation experiences which was in January of this year. I still have some of my previous adventures to talk about, but I have been so excited about this one that I wanted to get the post about it up asap!

Anyway, what has gotten me so excited about this particular investigation? Well, it is actually a very famous location and if I am being totally honest, it is the first investigation since my first which I have been truly frightened about participating in! I am of course talking about the infamous 30 East Drive in Pontefract – home of ‘The Black Monk of Pontefract’ and perhaps the most violent poltergeist in Europe. If you have heard of this location then it is probably for one of 3 reasons :

  • You saw the ‘Most Haunted’ episode filmed there last October.
  • You read about the well documented hauntings in the house in the late sixties and early seventies.
  • You have seen the movie ‘When The Lights Go Out’ based on the hauntings here.

I was really excited (and honoured) to be invited along by GPI to participate in the investigation and even though it is a pretty long way to travel for an investigation I knew that I wanted to be a part of it! This was only my second investigation with GPI – the first was at the Scottish Maritime Museum back in November and you might notice from my blogs about these investigations that they take a fairly different approach to investigation. This is because they are very much sceptics. They do not use the more spiritual or ‘traditional’ experiments like Ouija and Divination, instead relying on visual and audio evidence. On my first investigation I did miss some of the spiritual work that I have gotten used to with The 3am Club, but it is also good to get a different perspective and I like the idea of looking for hard evidence. As much as I am a believer, I still long for that one piece of indisputable evidence on camera!

So, without further ado, let’s talk about the investigation!

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When we arrived at this completely unassuming semi-detached house in an ordinary housing estate we were greeted by the caretaker/next door neighbour. She spoke to us a little bit about the rules of the house, the infamous ‘Most Haunted’ visit and said she had already stirred the spirits up for us! After leaving Kim from GPI asked if we thought it was all fake. Several members of the group heard a very loud Noooooo! coming from the hallway! It seemed like it was all going to kick off right away before we even got started!

Taking a Tour

After bringing our stuff inside some of us went on a quick walk around of the building while others started setting up! There were certainly some hotspots happening and while downstairs we could here someone upstairs walking around.

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The staircase is pretty infamous! Not only is it where most images of ‘Fred’ are captured, but it is also where the young girl from the Pritchard Family was allegedly dragged upstairs by her hair! It is also where the controversial ‘rope pull’ happened on Most Haunted. It was certainly very eerie, but not to the extent where I felt uncomfortable.

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The upstairs bathroom is said to be home to an Elemental and it is certainly very creepy. The light doesn’t work and it does not smell pleasant at all! We didn’t really spend much time inside that room and most of us preferred to use the downstairs toilet despite it being next to the infamous coal bunker!

The first bedroom that we entered was they boy’s room. It was fairly sparse in its décor and furnishings, but it did smell like sulphur at times and we were expecting some activity in here so we placed an EMF pump on the bed and added some trigger objects in the form of a crucifix and a ball.DSCN0207The next room we entered was the parents’ room! This one ended up being the focal point of our investigation and for me personally I think it had a great deal to do with the abundance of mirrors giving the room an almost portal/vortex effect. I felt very sick and generally uncomfortable in this room – and it wasn’t just because of the creepy dolls!

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Finally, we checked out the little girl’s room which is the one that has apparently been totally wrecked by ‘Fred’ fairly recently! Strangely enough I felt nothing in that room!

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Starting to Investigate

Once we had done a quick tour, we started to get the cameras and things set up and got started. I’m not going to do a blow by blow report, because honestly we were there for 18 hours and it was non-stop all night! So what I am going to do is just bullet point the most interesting things that happened on the night, starting with this photograph which I took in the parent’s bedroom…

DSCN0229This was taken during our walk around and I took around 15 photos in that spot in quick succession and this anomaly was only in the one image. To me it looks like a man sitting on the bed, If you look closely there are even legs!

In this room some of the things that happened were :

  • I got poked very hard in the back – between my ribs – leaving a bruise.
  • 2 others were poked or nipped at different times – leaving bruises.
  • 1 girl was violently sick with no warning.
  • Horrible smells came and went suddenly (sulphur, wet dog, sewage, rotten meat, rotten eggs etc)
  • Very relevant responses on the SB7, SB11 and Alice App
  • My SB7 was lifted from the floor and dropped with force behind us.
  • Repeatedly the entity switched between being fun and jovial to swearing and trying to be tricky.
  • A spirit warned us via Alice that ‘Something Coming In’ just before the awful smell returned – believed to be the elemental that resides in the bathroom.
  • 1 girl was ‘attacked’ emotionally and got very upset, she didn’t return to the room after that.
  • A chewed sweet (from an unopened  packet downstairs) appeared at my feet. When asked why they spit it out the SB7 said ‘don’t like type’.

Other activity seemed to happen downstairs. The big story is that there was major activity in the coal bunker. This is now half a toilet and half the remainder of the coal bunker. Again the smells would come and go intermittently. While downstairs we pretty much ran the Alice app continuously and some of the responses were so relevant. Words like ‘Poltergeist Haunting’ were coming up alot. And while chatting it was almost as though the app was chipping into the conversation. The so called black monk was hung and thrown down a well which is under the floor in the lounge, and we repeatedly got ‘Lost In The Well’ via Alice. We were then talking about one theory which suggests that ‘Fred’ was mistakenly accused for his brother’s crimes and as we discussed it Alice said ‘Don’t Want You, Want Justice’ which we felt was very relevant.

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There were also a few random occurrences throughout the night and the following morning. These included the following :-

  • 2 girls seeing a full male figure go around the side of the house while outside – when they checked he was gone.
  • a cross suddenly appearing on the floor of the hall
  • marbles being moved in a dish
  • A warning from ‘Fred’ when we said goodbye – ‘Travel North Beware Mist’ – we ran into horror movie style fog!

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Over all, it was a really interesting night and we may all have slept together in the living room, but we survived the night!

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Ghost Hunting @ David Livingstone Centre [Freaky Fridays]

FreakyFridaysThe David Livingstone Centre – August 2014

The David Livingstone Centre has always been a special place for me. We went there on a regular basis with my dad when we were little and it was often a venue for a school trip as well! When the opportunity to investigate the venue came up I knew that I couldn’t say no!

Our group was fairly small so we all made our way around the venue together instead of splitting up which is the usual set up. We started in the upstairs rooms of the museum where the wax works were which was already enough to freak me out! I wasn’t feeling much there, although I was getting the impression of rats scuttling around on the floor. Some people were feeling like they had the smell of a wet dog. I got the chance to try mirror scrying for the first time which was interesting. I didn’t actually see my face change on this occassion, although a couple of the observers did notice my face becoming thinner and the shadow of facial hair. Oddly my face felt kind of tingly, almost like after you get a novocaine shot at the dentist! When I closed my eyes I could see myself holding a baby and I was a man of around 30 years old. I kept getting the name Johnny. There also seemed to be some tapping at the door at the bottom of the stairwell on command.

Some strange lights on my shirt during the mirror scrying experiment!

Some strange lights on my shirt during the mirror scrying experiment!

We took a short break and headed to the break room where we discovered that the ladies toilet seemed to be a bit of a hotspot. When you were out there on your own the inner door would bang like someone was thumping on it. Both me and my sister expereinced it and didn’t really mention it until one of the lead investigators came back and said the same thing! We were actually there in daylight for a meeting recently and it happened then as well – on command!

After the break we went into the lower floor where the chapel is and that was when things really started to get freaky. We walked in and I didn’t really remember what this room was from our childhood visits, but when I entered the area and turned to the cross at the far end I had a feeling of what I can only describe as revulsion! I walked towards the chapel area, but kept my eyes cast down to the floor. The feeling around there was very ‘thick’ and I had goosebumps! I sat in a chair near there and started to cry. My brother-in-law said he had the image of a woman kneeling there at the chapel crying. I felt that I had to leave and I walked down to the opposite corner of the room where some posters were in hinged frames – kind of like when they are on display in a record store. The energy here was very strong, rolling over me in waves and making me feel rather uneasy. I think the posters were moving. but can’t be sure if it was just an optical illusion or not. The energy was no illusion though. I’ve felt these energy blasts in lots of buildings now and apparently it means a spirit is close to you.

The last area that we visited was the gallery on the upper floor which is where most activity is recorded. This was certainly true on this particular night because once we were in there things got very intense, very quickly! It is a long narrow corridor with heavy fire doors at each end. We sat along the two walls in the middle and waited. The corridor grew incredibly dark to the point that it was difficult to even see those opposite you despite the gap being 6 feet or less. I was sitting next to one of the investigative team (Debbie) who apparently often has issues with the spirit on this floor. On previous visits he apparently communicated some very sexually agressive things via a medium.

We all heard the door at one end open and close. It is a fire door and makes a distinctive sound – like suction due to the seal. It is far to heavy to move on its own, but it did distinctly open and close. Soon after those at either end of the group began to notice that there were shadow men – one at either end as if guarding the doors. This made me uncomfortable as I felt like they were intending not to let us leave. Several people began to feel sick and get headaches and the air was thick. It got especially dark around Debbie and Me and others could not actually see us. We both felt an aggressive spirit right in our faces and without realizing we had huddled close together. You can see a tiny orb above our heads.

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Debbie asked the spirit to stop making people feel ill and seconds later every single one of the 20 people in the room heard a loud hissing voice say “NO!”. I am not one to easily believe everything to be paranormal, I look for the logic and I know that with us all in the dark it would have been easy for someone to play a joke. However, having been there I feel sure it was a disembodied voice. It wasn’t human, I just know that in my heart! It seemed to come from all corners of the room. It was very freaky!

At the time, I felt like not much had happened, but on looking back over the next few days I realised that loads did! It was just a little more insidious than other places. The spirits of The David Livingstone Centre lurk in the shadows watching you and creep in while your guard is down.

 

Ghost Hunting @ Cockenzie House [Freaky Fridays]

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Cockenzie House – July 2014

The second investigation that I managed to go on was not until Summer 2014. There were many that we wanted to go on, but just could not afford to buy tickets. This particular investigation in Cockenzie House was a first for the paranormal group so we found that an exciting prospect. It was a truly beautiful old manor house close to the sea in Prestonpans.

This investigation was not as intense as our experiences in Provanhall, it was a more subtle experience, but interesting nevertheless! We started off on one of the upper floors where there was a gallery of sorts. We were feeling although there was a little child in the room. My friend used her pendulum to ask questions and we discovered it was a little girl who had damaged legs from her brother causing her to fall on the stairs when they were playing. She said it was only an accident. She wore leg braces to support her crooked legs. We later encountered a lady looking for her children who we believed to be her mother and she said that the girl died from infection of some kind, but not from the accident.

We switched to a different area, but I really do not know where! It was a total rabbit warren of corridors and rooms! It was on an upper floor. This was where we tried some glass divination and I loved it! I have always been a bit of a non-believer of this stuff, because I feel like there would always be some joker in the group that pushes the glass, but I think this certainly changed my mind! When the glass began to move it actually got hot and twisted around. The only that could have happened is if there were several people working together and even then the heat is not really explainable. We got some answers from an older man called Frank and he was very kind and told us all about his wife! At the same time the parabolic microphone was picking up the name Christine over and over again. We wondered if this was his wife. Suddenly the energy in the glass changed and started to spin around the table so we decided to stop with that as it no longer felt safe.

We headed up to the attic and several of us felt we were swaying almost as though we were drunk! I found some half empty bottles of rum in one of the rooms and placced it on the floor as a trigger obect since we figured it was a drunk man. We believe this to be Frank from earlier. In one room we were getting noises like change or keys jangling and something pinched my upper arm and tugged my hair. I am beginning to see that my interaction with spirits is usually physical, where my sister feels emotions and my brother in law is shaping up to be a clairaudient (hears spirit).

Lastly we went to the basement and wandered the corridors. We managed to speak with Christine at that point (the mother seeking her children) and got a fair few dates and names from her which we later researched and found on the census records for the area!

As I said, the energy here was more subtle. I want to go back, it seems like there are more stories to tell in this old house.

Cockenzie Revisited

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Several weeks later, I got the opportunity to accompany some of the paranormal investigators on an impromptu vigil outside Cockenzie house. On the evening when we first investigated the building, one of the investigators had gone out to his van to look for his wallet and had a strange encounter on the road at the main gate. He saw a young girl crawling on the road and stopped to help her up. She was totally weightless and pale with dark eyes. He said she was kind of twisted and crawling, like she had been in an accident! She thanked him and he walked on a few steps, then turned to check on her and she was gone! It was only afterwards he began thinking about how odd it was. It was raining heavily, yet she was bone dry. She had no coat, no phone, no bag! He describes her as wearing fifties style clothing. The incident had unsettled him ever since and he felt like he had to go back for closure and to film a little documentary!

 

He offered to pick me up, so I decided to go along with him, his wife and another investigator. Another couple who lived locally joined us. We were hanging out at the front gates and I was experiencing what ewe have come to regard as “the ghostie prickles” where you get strange goosebumps on one side of your body (always the left). The other lady felt something tap her head and in my pictures at the same time there is an orb above her head. Towards the end of our time there, we were standing at the gates when a massive amount of activity started up. First we felt a massive rush of energy come out from the gates, just like I had felt on the staircase at Provanhall. Then there was a loud knocking from the grounds, but no-one was outside. There were feather flags on the path inside the gate and they started to to move strangely. It wasn’t the way the wind would move it. It was more like someone tugging on the edge of it. We had a sensation of someone walking back and forth behind the gates, almost like a sentry. I captured an amazing orb featuring a skull in the middle of it! The creepy girl didn’t appear to us, but it was an interesting little vigil nevertheless!

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Ghost Hunting @Provanhall [Freaky Fridays]

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Provanhall – November 2013

My first real expereince with Paranormal Investigation was in October 2013 at Provanhall & Blocharin House. I’ve mentioned a little of my experience with the Provanhall ghosts before when I shared my exam piece from my creative writing course. However, that account had to be a little more dramatized to fit the paramaters of the exam so I thought it would be great to share a more stripped down account of the whole night!

If I am being 100% honest, I didn’t really expect much to happen at all on the night. In fact, we had organized it as a charity event and I was genuinely concerned that we had just charged 20 people £30 to sit in the dark for 6 hours! However, on our walk through on a bright and sunny morning a few weeks before the event we had a little bit of activity up in the tower room of Provanhall with something brushing my hair away from my ear and my sister feeling like she had to move out of the door way! We had read up on the building and knew that the bedroom on that floor was one of the hotspots due to a documented double murder of a woman and her little boy. Knowing that even by daylight we felt a little spooked we felt more confident that we could get something at night! Even so, I expected a slow build up – not the instant and continous activity we ended up experiencing.

There are several rooms in the two buildings, so I will just document what I can recall from each area that we went into and add a little of the history that linked us in to it!

Provanhall – Main Hall & Bedroom

The hall upstairs is where the banqueting etc would have happened and there is a bedroom ust off of it and the tower room. From the very beginning we started to see shadows flitting about and batteries in cameras and torches were draining instantly. The tower had some creaking noises which could have just been the floor boards which had been a more modern addition. However, in the bedroom, one of the investigators gathered a group of people around the table to conduct a séance. Using a K2 meter which detects EMF we were able to get responses by having the spirit light up the meter. The sceptics among us were not entirely convinced my this, but then something else happened that would surely change a few minds! First chips of plaster were coming off of the walls and being pinged into the centre of the circle on command! Then one of the guests suddenly felt pains in her stomach which she said could only be described as labour pains! She opened her jacket to rub her stomach and to everyone’s astonishment she had a very obvious baby bump (she wasn’t pregnant). This was interesting given the fact that the story in that bedroom is that a soldier returned from serving in the military abroad for several years and found that his wife had a son who could not have been his given his absence! He went out to drown his sorrows and coming home in a drunken rage he slaughtered both the woman and the child in their beds. Previous accounts from investigators often state that the room is very dark and active, but it appeared that at this time we had the lady not the man. We were asked to leave soon after that, perhaps by the man and not wanting to push our luck too far at this early stage we agreed. Another interesting occurance was in the main hall when one of the investigators said he saw a figure standing behind me at the same time as I felt something tug my hair. I held my camera over my shoulder taking 3 shots in quick succession and in the middle one there was a distinct light trail in the image which is believed to indicate spirit movement.

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Blochairn House – Attic/Conference Room & Staircase

1424476_10201716131078326_243955944_nThis, for me, was the most intense area. During our time in the other building the other group had asked for assistance over the walkie talkies as someone needed to be removed from the building. We had heard nothing of the activity in this building other than a kindly man that protected the people here. We were totally unprepared for what happened next! Everyone was in the attic and I decided not to go up there. Instead I sat at the top of the stairs one of the investigators patted my shoulder and told me to be careful. I can’t explain away what happened next as much as I try. From my position on the stairs, I could see down into the doorway of the conference room and I was completely sure that a man in a hat was standing in that doorway, peeking around it.

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He was solid black and darker than the rest of the shadows. I have no doubt in my mind that he was a shadow person. I couldn’t take my eyes off of that doorway. I was aware of those behind me in the attic talking about things they were feeling. One girl was sure that there had been sexual abuse in the rooms and another girl suddenly felt like she was on fire to the point that she was actually choking on ‘smoke’. I still couldn’t keep my eyes off of the doorway. Suddenly the landing got dark. Darker than it should have been. Even in my photographs (taken with a flash) you can see the gathering shadows at the foot of the stairs.

I could feel this wave of energy rushing towards me up the stairs and I knew that I no longer wanted to be there. I stood up and rushed down to the landing – into those shadows! What on earth made me thing I was safer down there I will never know, but I got down there and backed up against a wall! Gradually some of the group came downstairs, and someone commented that there was a shadow of a shotgun behind my head! Suddenly I felt a child’s hand slip into mine and my heart almost stopped! Anyone who is a parent knows the distinctive hot, sticky feel of a child’s hand in theirs and this is exactly what I had! She was tugging on my arm and pulling me towards a locked door (The one area of the building off limits to us). Someone else touched my hand and felt there was a barrier between my hand and theirs. I was being pulled forward with such force I dropped to my knees to avoid falling and someone had to hold me back a little. Just then my sister burst into hysterical sobbing. She was hit by a wave of utter despair and told us that the little girl was looking for her baby sister. The investigator who was the group medium knelt in front of me talking with her and asked if she didn’t like ‘the nasty man’ and told her that we would keep her safe. When I look back at pictures, my fingers are curled as though I am holding hands with her and several people see a baby’s face on my shoulder.

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We ended up having to take a break for my sister to recover and it was then we learned that the incident with the other group had been a lady being attacked by ‘the nasty man’ and the rest of the group actually seeing her face change to his! She confirmed that she had felt his thoughts and that he had abused children in the attic. The building caretaker confirmed that there had been a fire and although he didn’t know of any abuse he did say of the spirit up there ‘he’s no Gentleman’. I was totally freaked by now! It’s one thing to like the idea of believing in ghosts, but it is quite another to have them physically and emotionally interact with you! It was like a slap in the face that YES this stuff was real! I knew from that moment I was going to hooked on Ghost Hunting!

Provanhall – Dairy

We weren’t getting much activity in the dairy other than a smell of vanilla and sugar! However, in the dairy annex my brother in law had his arm grabbed. Through the medium and use of the K2 meter and Parabolic Microphone we ended up surmizing that this was Elizabeth, a maid who had been raped here. She felt safe with Andy and would not let him go! Each time we tried to leave she kept clutching him! He is a total non-believer so this was very compelling. My sister was hearing “get him to move” which we thought was weird, until he revealed that he could see a Highlander behind him out the corner of his eye – we assume he was asking Linda to get him to move so he could get to Elizabeth!

Provanhall – Bedroom

We returned to the bedroom to round off the night and conducted another séance. This time it was certainly a darker spirit. Several people had the impression of a lady huddled in the corner and others around the circle had tickling sensations on their legs like a child was playing under the table. It got very intense around the table and it was creaking and cracking a great deal! The room was incredibly cold and suddenly I had a sharp pain in my shoulder blades and lower back. A stabbing sensation. The medium placed his hands on my back and said he felt it warm and sticky – like blood! We decided to wrap things up at that point, but all in all it was a very spooky night!

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I’ve come to love this place. Even though the staircase in the back of Blocharin House now terrifies me I still find an attraction to this place and I would love to go back to investigate sometime in the near future. There is a great deal of renovation work on the cards for this year to restore it to it’s original state and I think this will really stir things up! Exciting!

4 Local Haunts in Motherwell [Freaky Fridays]

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Motherwell Ghosts : 4 Local Haunts

We moved to Motherwell just about 3 years ago, although my husband grew up here (right around the corner). I’ve really gotten to love this little town since getting to know it better and I actually feel like it is home more so than anywhere else that I have lived in the past. It’s not a huge town, but it is very old and it has a rich history which I have really enjoyed learning more about recently. Of course, that means uncovering some of our local ghost stories as well. I haven’t had the chance to investigate most of these, but nevertheless they make for some interesting tales.

The Ladies of Dalzell House

Dalzell House (pronounced ‘di-yell’) was the family seat of Lord Dalzell (also the Earl of Carnwarth) and the oldest parts of the building sate back to the 15th century. The building underwent extensive remodelling in the eighties and it is serving as private apartments making investigation impossible! However, the estate itself is still public park and is home to plenty of wildlife. However, it is the ghostly ladies that are the star attraction for spooky people like me and Dalzell boasts a veritable rainbow of ladies who have made their presence known to unsuspecting visitors!

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Each of the three ladies haunts a different area of the estate. The most famous is probably The Green Lady who makes her home in the South Wing of the house. She is said to have blood shot eyes and favours the ‘piper’s gallery’. She is frequently seen emerging from wood panelling and can be a frightening sight to behold. Reports say that while the property was still intact as a visitor attraction, guard dogs would behave strangely in her area on nightly patrols and the night watchmen would often report strange lights and footsteps. Meanwhile, The White Lady prowls the grounds. She has been sighted all over the estate wearing 18th century clothing. It has been suggested that she is a maid who threw herself from one of the towers into the rocky gorge known as Whinney Burn. Other tales suggest that the maid was in fact walled up inside the house having birthed the Lord’s illegitimate child, but since she walks the grounds and not the house the first story seems more likely. Finally, The Grey Lady is said to haunt the North wing which was used as a military hospital during the first World War. Her attire is described as grey uniform, suggesting that she could be an army nurse.

Burns Tavern

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Burns Tavern is the oldest pub in Motherwell, or at least part of it! The older half of the bar which houses the lounge and the off-sales dates back to 1880. It is often considered one of the country’s most haunted pubs. A shadow figure is frequently seen in the bar area and during an investigation the entity was able to flash lights on and off on request in order to communicate. A number of EVP recordings have also been captured in the bar. At least two known spirits are thought to hang out there, including an elderly gentleman called Anthony and a younger spirit named Andrew.

Ravenscraig Steel Works

Ravenscraig Steelworks was once the beating heart of Motherwell, a town that was forged in the steel industry. Long after its closure, the town was haunted by the ghosts that came with recession and poverty. It was only recently that the site was redeveloped finally laying some of the ghosts to rest. However, with such a dangerous industry it is little surprise that there have been many documented deaths. One particular spirit that has been frequently around the area where the furnace once stood is that of a decapitated steelworker believed to have died in a mining accident.

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The Old Mill

3530349074One of my favourite things about living in Motherwell is that our house is right by the woods and it makes for some fantastic walks. Hidden deep in the woods is an abandoned cemetery which I adore visiting. some of the graves go back to as far as 1715. Unfortunately there is a great deal of vandalism, but it still has amazing atmosphere. If you follow one of the paths further into town you eventually stumble upon The Old Mill, a former mill that is now a hotel. I have always thought that it was creepy, so when I stumbled upon a ghost story linking the two places I was delighted! The story goes that a young woman was due to be married at The Old Mill, but her intended never showed up (legend says he was waylaid by another suitor who wanted the woman for himself).1231257_10201176207460573_2139983718_n

The girl was so distraught that she ran through the woods to The Nine Arches (a high viaduct close to our house) and while sitting on the edge crying, a passing train startled her and she fell to her death. She was buried in the Globe cemetery (my abandoned graveyard) and is often sighted under a tree there. On reading this, I asked my mother-in-law about the story and she confirmed that she had actually seen The White Lady herself when she used to walk her dog down there.

 

 

Freaky Friday : Ghost Hunting at Provanhall

FreakyFridays
1459761_10201716102597614_2011740839_n   My first ever experience of ghost hunting was at Provanhall in Glasgow and it was most certainly a baptism of fire! I did not really anticipate it being as active as it actually was, but things were very lively! A journalist from The Herald came along with us and published his take on things which you can read here, but I think he toned things down a lot! I do want to write up each of my ghost hunting experiences in future Freaky Fridays and it seems right to start with the first one! I actually wrote this piece as my final project for creative writing while at University so it isn’t exactly a full report since I had to make it a bit more literary, but I hope that it conveys some of the atmosphere of the night. Aside from the events described below we also had various other occurrences including plaster and pebbles being thrown, hair pulling and touches and various other phenomena. Lots of my photographs have shadow figures in them and overall the entire group had some really strong experiences and I gotten bitten by the bug – big time!

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Chasing Shadows In The Dark

Even in broad daylight there was something not quite right about the building. Standing there listening to the caretaker discuss its gruesome past I could feel every hair on the back of my neck standing on end. My skin prickled as the hair behind my ear was gently ruffled as though someone had whispered in my ear, their breath catching the loose strands. At that exact moment, Linda suddenly stepped forward and spun around to face me before grabbing her husband’s hand.

‘Did you just touch my head?’

‘No, but … I had to move!’

Her voice trembled a little as she answered. I could see that something had rattled her, but we didn’t have a chance to discuss it as our guide was leading us back down into the courtyard and inviting us to wander around the gardens before we left.

Sitting in the sunshine with a picnic lunch a few minutes later she explained that she just had an overwhelming urge to move away from the entrance to the tower where both of us had been standing. I explained that I had been uncomfortable too and that I was sure someone had touched my hair. We agreed that it was strange because our research had never mentioned anything about paranormal activity in that spot. In fact, we had both felt a little disappointed by the lack of atmosphere in the bedroom where most of the hauntings were reported. The bedroom had been the scene of a brutal murder where a drunken soldier had murder his wife after returning from the war to find that she had given birth to another man’s child. The little boy had also been slaughtered and all three spirits had frequently been encountered in the room, not only by the staff but also be the various paranormal groups that regularly come to visit. As we finished our food we began to chat about the various stories we had heard about the house and its ghostly residents. Andy was growing restless and was ready to head home. He clearly though that we were being hysterical women and was eager to go home!

‘You’re both nuts, you know that right? You want to charge people 30 quid to sit in the cold and the dark for 6 hours. Absolute madness!’

‘It’s all in how you market it!’ I replied.

Even as I spoke I knew that on some level he was right. Would people really be willing to pay that much for so little? I began to wonder if we were barking up the wrong tree with this idea. I hadn’t even been serious when I suggested it. It was one of those moments when my smart-ass mouth spat out a flippant remark before my brain had a chance to intervene. I should really have known better. It had all happened a week ago when Linda had called me to discuss a few ideas for fundraising for the local autism charity we are both involved with. I was supposed to be working, but I was glad of the distraction despite the fact that the article I was working on had a looming deadline. Linda was complaining about always using the same old ideas to raise funds.

‘Honestly, I just can’t deal with it any more! If I have to do another coffee morning or a tombola I might actually have to kill myself!’ Linda complained. ‘It’s so boring. Everyone does it and I want to do something different. Something exciting!’

I had gotten used to her hair-brained schemes over the years. She was the creative one in the family and was always coming up with games and adventures for us younger siblings. It came as no surprise to me that having been named fundraising officer she could not be content with hosting a bake sale!

‘Just promise not to come back and haunt me or I’m telling mum!’

I glanced over at the television, which was only really on for background noise while I worked. An American ghost hunting show was on and before I could stop myself I was blurting out a suggestion that would quite literally come back to haunt me.

‘Let’s go ghost hunting.’

I should have known that my sister would jump on it. Within an hour she was back on the phone armed with not only approval from head office, but also a team of professional investigators willing to donate their time and a short-list of possible venues. We ended up settling on Provan Hall, a 15th century building with a gruesome history hiding behind its picturesque façade. Aside from the tale of the murderous soldier we had already heard about there were countless other restless souls rumoured to be lurking in the shadowy corners.

Selling tickets turned out to be easier than we had expected. It turns out we weren’t the only ones crazy enough to pay for the privilege of sitting in a freezing cold building with no guarantee that we would even encounter anything supernatural.

As the event drew nearer, slowly people began to drop out and I could totally understand why. Like me they probably quite liked the idea of going ghost hunting, but when it became a reality they were afraid that they might actually come face to face with something that they couldn’t explain. Linda has always been a strong believer in the supernatural, but I guess you could say that I have always been sat on the fence. It’s not that I didn’t believe in ghosts. I’m a logical person and pretty scientifically minded so I’ve always been aware that human beings are composed largely of energy and of course energy can’t just disappear. In my mind that made it perfectly reasonable to assume that once that energy was no longer needed to power the body, it could go elsewhere. As the date of our ghost hunt drew closer I tried to be excited, but I was quickly realising that as much as I wanted to believe in ghosts, that didn’t necessarily mean that I was ready to confront one.

Now here I was I sitting alone on a creaky old staircase staring down into the darkness below. We had been split into teams so that we could tackle different parts of the two buildings simultaneously and then compare notes at the end of the night. The rest of my team were in the attic rooms behind me and I could hear them chatting about changes in the temperature and some of the feelings that they were picking up on. One of our team had some psychic tendencies and she was asking the investigators whether or not children had been abused in the house because she was picking up on some uncomfortable feelings in the room. Everyone was already a little on edge as we had heard over the walkie talkie that someone from the other team had to be removed from this room earlier in the night although we didn’t know why.

I was only half listening to the chatter because I could seem to tear my eyes away from the doorway on the landing below. I sat near the top of the stairs randomly snapping pictures of the doorway. Occasionally I would pause to review them on the screen of my digital camera. In a couple of pictures I noticed that it seemed to be a little bit too dark at the bottom of the stairs. It looked like darker shadows within the shadows. In some of the pictures it was almost impossible to make out anything below the halfway point on the staircase despite the fact that the landing should have been slightly illuminated by the light from the full moon outside the window.

I kept my eyes on that open door, unable to look away and barely even daring to blink. I was almost expecting someone to walk out of that room, even although I knew that no-one was there. That was when it suddenly hit me. I’m still not entirely sure what it was, but I had never felt anything like it. It was as though a wave of energy was rushing towards me up the stairs. I didn’t understand what it was, only that I didn’t want to be on that staircase for a second longer. I jumped to my feet and ran down to the landing where I stood with my back pressed against the wall. I don’t usually spook easily but I was starting to feel very uncomfortable and my stomach was heaving with a writhing sense of foreboding as I realised that I had just placed myself right in that dark spot that I had noticed in my photographs.

The lead investigator, Jan, noticed that I had moved downstairs and followed me with a reminder that we weren’t to wander off from the group. My sister was following close behind and came to stand beside me.

‘I don’t like it in that attic. It just feels wrong,’ she whispered.

Just then there was a commotion upstairs as one of the girls began to feel unwell. Her temperature was beginning to climb and she started to choke. She started to cry and had to be helped downstairs to sit down and loosen some of the layers of clothing she was wearing to keep warm. As soon as she reached the landing she started to calm down and explained that she had felt like her throat was burning. Jan later told us that it was a  common occurrence during investigations in this part of the building and they believed that it was people picking up on residual energy from a fire that killed several children in the house. This caused excitement among those who believed it was a paranormal event while the sceptics in the bunch weren’t convinced. My brother-in-law appeared downstairs proclaiming that he was about as psychic as a brick because he felt nothing!

In the midst of the confusion I began to feel a strange sensation. It happened suddenly and it first it was a slight tingle in my fingertips like a static shock. Then there was pressure and a distinct  squeezing. I recognised the sensation, but my brain was struggling to make sense of it. My eyes were telling me nothing was there, but I my sense of touch was telling me that a small child had slipped her hand into mine. My palm felt warm and slightly sticky, just like when a toddler holds onto your hand with grubby, sweaty little hands. My heart began to beat a little bit faster, but I can honestly say that it was not through fear. The mother in me kicked in and it seemed like the most natural thing in the world to curl my fingers around the hand and give it a reassuring squeeze. This seemed to be taken as a sign of acceptance because I soon began to feel an insistent tugging on my arm, like a bored child trying to get their Mother’s attention when she has spent to long gossiping with a friend in the supermarket.

I didn’t say anything mainly out of an irrational fear that no one would believe me and that perhaps I was just getting caught up in mass hysteria. I just kept looking down at my hand and its fingers curled around an invisible hand. I wasn’t doing a very good job of hiding my confusion and those closest to me started to notice that something was happening.

‘Are you okay?’

One of the investigators was staring at me intently.

‘Don’t freak out but it almost looked as though there was the shadow of a shotgun behind your head!’ said Mark. ‘Do you feel anything?’

I was finding it difficult to speak. All I could manage was a whisper.

‘I’m not sure. I think. It sounds odd, but maybe there is a little girl tugging on my arm.’

The pulling sensation was getting stronger now and more insistent. My arm was raised in front of me and I was being pulled away from the wall.

‘Maybe you should go with her?’ suggested someone from the back of the group.

I walked slowly across the landing feeling more uncomfortable with every step. It wasn’t the fact that I was holding hand with a ghost, but rather the fact that I had suddenly become the centre of attention. Once again I wondered if I was just getting carried away with the group, but deep down I knew that this was real. I squeezed past my sister on the narrow landing and she suddenly gasped.

‘That was weird. It was like ice passing through my legs.’

The pulling got more and more intense, guiding me towards a locked door at the top of the next flight of stairs. Even as I stopped in front of the door the pulling continued and I stumbled forward, perilously close to the staircase. Another member of the group grabbed my arm to pull me back and suggested that it would be wise to sit on the floor. Mark squeezed past and sat on the stairs. He did so as much to act as a safety net for me as he did to document the interaction. He placed an electronic device in front of me along with a digital recorder and explained that the device was an EMF detector which would measure electro-magnetic fields and that any spirits close to us would be able to use this to communicate. I tried to concentrate on what Mark was saying but in my mind all I could hear was someone calling out a name over and over again.

‘I think her name might be Maggie.’

In my mind I was picturing a girl no more than 5 years old dressed in an old fashioned white dress. Mark remained kneeling on the stairs and started talking to the little girl while stroking the air like he was petting her hair. He was kind and reassuring, telling her that she was safe and that we just wanted to hear whatever story she wanted to tell us all.

Without warning the atmosphere on the landing began to change. I could have sworn it suddenly got darker and the lights on Mark’s EMF device began flickering erratically, lighting all the way up to red. I hadn’t once felt afraid, just confused, but now I was quickly becoming uneasy.

‘Ahh sweetheart. You don’t need to be afraid of the bad man. I’m not going to let him hurt you darling,’ said Mark.

The pulling sensation on my arm began getting stronger to the point that my shoulder was beginning to hurt. I could hear my heart thudding behind my ears. As soon as Mark mentioned the ‘bad man’ I instantly thought back to his earlier comment about a shotgun behind my head. I connected it to the horrible feeling that there had been a shadow man in a hat watching me from the doorway while I say on the stairs. For the first time I wasn’t just uneasy. I was truly scared.

The rest of the group who had been avidly watching me suddenly those closest to me all began talking at once.

‘Did you hear that?’

‘I heard someone shouting.’

‘It sounds like a man and a woman fighting. They are really going at it!’

‘Is someone outside?’
Nobody could pinpoint anything in particular and it seemed as though each person was getting small fragments of a bigger picture. Mark radioed down to the caretaker who confirmed that there was nobody in the grounds and that the other team were in the older building across the courtyard.

It was then that I first noticed the sound of somebody sobbing. I looked up for the first time and saw that Linda had followed me across the landing. She standing next to me with tears rolling down her face. I was shocked because I don’t recall another time that I have ever seen my big sister cry. No matter what life throws her way she simply takes a deep breath and deals with it. Yet here she was, not only crying, but sobbing hysterically. She was so distraught that she was doubled over. Her whole body shaking from the effort. Looking at her was like seeing a perfect visual representation of absolute despair and it was heartbreaking to watch. I was frozen there sitting at her feet with my arm still outstretched towards the locked door. I couldn’t even move to comfort her the way she had so often comforted me as a child when she had been forced to play mother while my dad was in hospital and my mum was out at work trying to scrape together enough money to pay the bills.

‘It’s her sister,’ she cried. ‘She’s looking for her little sister.’

Her words were followed by a fresh round of sobs. She was now almost prone on the floor. Her distressed whines made her sound like a wounded animal. Jan was desperately trying to calm her down, but her attempts to offer comfort went completely unnoticed until she attempted to remove Linda from the area.

‘I think it’s probably best if we go outside and get some air. Let’s go downstairs’

Suddenly Linda’s head snapped up and she snarled at Jan. Her words dripping with rage. She was practically screaming in her face.

‘I’m not leaving her! Don’t be so stupid.’
It became apparent that we probably shouldn’t hang around up hear and Mark whispered to me to ask ‘Maggie’ to let go of my hand before leading me downstairs and out into the courtyard. Linda emerged behind me, her face pale and her hands shaking.

‘I don’t even know what happened. I felt so sad. It hit me like a ton of bricks.’

‘You wouldn’t leave. They kept telling you to leave and you said you wouldn’t leave me alone up there.’

‘I didn’t mean you! I meant the little girl. I feel like I just left a real child in distress. I feel terrible.’

Both groups were mingling in the common area and the courtyard drinking coffee and excitedly swapping notes with one another. I noticed my brother-in-law Andy fighting through the crowd and waved him over.

‘What the hell happened to you two? I was way in the back and I didn’t even know it was you guys! I should have known though!’

We didn’t get a chance to explain when the newspaper reporter that had accompanied us cornered us and tried to conduct an interview for his feature. He seemed oblivious to the fact that we were both emotionally drained and not in any mood to talk. We agreed to meet him in the caretaker’s office in 5 minutes and headed off to the bathroom to repair Linda’s tear stained face.

‘Oh. My. God. What the hell? I feel like the world just ended.’

‘You look like it too!’

Even in the face of emotional trauma I couldn’t resist the opportunity to get in a dig at big sis! She glanced at herself in the mirror taking in her streaked mascara and snot stained cheek and let out a shriek.

‘Now that’s scary! I was really crying wasn’t I.’

‘Uh-huh’ I nodded. ‘It wasn’t even pretty crying either, it was proper bawling!’

She pushed me, pretending she was mad and I could see the spark of excitement in her eyes that told me even though she had been upset she was definitely as excited as I was to have had something happen. We gave our brief interview to the reporter and rejoined the group to head to our final area where we were to take part in a séance around an old table in the infamous bedroom.

It was almost 4am by the time we got back to Linda’s house after the event. My husband was already tucked up in the spare bedroom having been delegated to babysit our collective children while the three of us chased down spooks. Andy wandered off to go to sleep, but Linda and I couldn’t sleep. We sat up for hours dissecting everything while eating bowls of leftover mashed potato with cheese. It reminded me of childhood nights when my dad would be rushed into hospital and I was too young to understand what was happening and was scared by the ambulance and the paramedics. My oldest sister had long since left home for the bright lights of London, so Linda would sit up with me and my other sister telling us stories and making French toast. The only difference was that now we were adults and the 11 year age gap didn’t matter as much. Our relationship had evolved into friendship as well as sisterhood. Our shared experience had strengthen our bond even further.

From that night on, ghosts became our thing. Within a week we had already booked a second fundraising event for the following year, this time in an abandoned swimming pool. Every time we talked we would end up picking apart things that had happened or pointing out details in the thousands of photographs that we had taken. When we got the call to return to Provan Hall for a photo shoot to accompany our feature in The Herald we were both a little anxious to return, but we knew that together we would be safe. It took some time to get over our experience. I know that for days afterwards Linda hugged her daughter that little bit tighter as she was of a similar age and she struggled with the feeling that she had left the little girl there all alone searching for her little sister. We gradually managed to piece together her story from talking to the caretaker and the investigators who had been to the building several times. They were used to picking up on children and their nanny. It was also common for people to feel the presence of a darker spirit believed to be the tobacco lord who built the house. The investigators said that things had never been quite so intense and they believed that it was our connection as sisters which made us attractive to this little child. She offered us some comfort by explaining that all we could do for spirits was let them tell their stories and that she really felt like ‘Maggie’ had been able to share something that she hadn’t managed to before. Linda was able to make peace with that and she still has an interest in the paranormal, but I think she is more cautious about what she opens herself up to and regularly cleanses her self and her home against negative energies.

Something changed for me that night. I accepted that paranormal energy was not only very real but also very potent. I started to take more notice of the places that gave me goosebumps and learned that the more open I am to the paranormal, the more likely I am to encounter it. It spurred me to investigate further and ever since that night I have read every bit of information that I could lay my hands on regarding ghosts and paranormal investigation. Whenever time and money allows I book a spot on investigations with various groups. This summer I will be embarking on a course in parapsychology and it is my hope that some day soon I will be able to join the group of investigators that guided us through our first ghostly encounter.

 

Freaky Fridays : Scottish Paranormal Festival 2014

FreakyFridays

My Visit to SPF14 (Scottish Paranormal Festival)

Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely adore anything remotely paranormal! If I had the money and the time I would go ghost hunting every weekend and I currently have several pieces of ghost hunting equipment on my wish list! So it comes as no surprise that when I heard about the first ever Scottish Paranormal Festival I got pretty excited. I first heard about it on TV early on in 2014 and they were looking for funding to make it happen. For a long time nothing was updated and I didn’t know whether or not it would go ahead. Eventually, the programme for the event was released and I seriously wanted to go to everything! Especially the Vampire Masked Ball! I think the festival programme is still available online if you want to take a little look. With the programme finally in place and tickets on sale I started to get super excited! I entered a ballot with The 3am Club to be a participant in one of their vigils and my spooky gang started picking out what to see.

And then disaster struck. I was having a lot of difficulty with money. I was not getting much work and I seemed to get a huge avalanche of bills all at once! It looked as though I couldn’t go because I just couldn’t afford it. Then I won the ballot to join the vigil/investigation at Stirling’s Bastion and I really wanted to go! My big sister came to the rescue and bought me some conference tickets for a graduation present! Just like that the road trip was back on! We choose 3 events including the vigil at the Bastion.

Astonishing Ghostly Photographs

Our first stop was at Stirling’s beautiful Albert Halls for a fabulous talk with Malcolm Robinson about Ghost Photography. Malcolm is someone that I have seen appearing on a number of TV shows and he also lectures all over the world about ghosts and ufos so I was excited to hear him speak. The lecture was fairly short, but I really enjoyed listening to him speak. He showed some slideshows of various different ‘ghost photography’ from the past and present. He pointed out those that are fairly certain to be fakes and presented a few from his own investigations. He made a great point about how the best evidence is often found where we are not looking rather than when we are actively investigating. In future Freaky Friday posts I will share my ghost hunting experiences and on my first investigation we had our best experience in a different area of the building from where we expected the action to be! It makes a great deal of sense. Ghosts and spirits are not performing monkeys who will pose for photos! A large number of the images being shared throughout the talk were random snaps at family occasions and friendly get togethers! He also touched on orbs which are always a hot topic and something I might cover in future Freaky Friday posts!

After the talk we headed upstairs to browse some of the stalls there. It was mainly the other speakers selling their books and such. I had a nice chat with author Geoff Holder and he signed a copy of his new book Poltergeist Over Scotland for me with a lovely quote (I cannot for the life of me remember who from!) “Of Bogels & Spooks, full is this book!”

I haven’t yet managed to read it cover to cover just yet, but it is looking very interesting so far and there are even a few cases from my home town in there which is nice! Some of the tales I have heard of before and others are new to me!

Ghosthunters : Roundtable and Workshop

Our afternoon activity was a bit of a two for one affair and was conducted in The Smith Museum. The first session was a roundtable discussion for paranormal investigators of all levels and it was something I very much enjoyed. I don’t generally speak in public because I am a shy little type (Seriously, I am!) but I really enjoyed listening to the point of view offered up by other people from all sorts of backgrounds. I am a little more analytical and scientific in my approach, but I enjoyed hearing the various points of view from the spiritualist side and even the religious take. The session was hosted by The 3am Club, but also featured guests from Lanarkshire Paranormal who we have investigated with lots and also the Scottish Society for Psychical Research. After a short break, the second session was intended to be a workshop on paranormal investigation, but due to some technical difficulties it ended up just being a general chat and getting to look at some equipment and pieces of evidence! It was lots of fun!

Afterwards, we went along to The City Walls pub for some dinner before heading to our investigation location for the night.

Vigil at The Bastion

I don’t want to go into too much detail about this vigil at the moment because I feel like I want to do a separate post on it. So I will just say that it was a big change going with a different paranormal group and that there was lots of activity. I got to try some different things like table tipping and a spirit board (Ouija). I even made a ghostly friend! The Bastion is an amazing location since it is essentially a dungeon beneath the shopping mall!

Overall, I really loved the festival and I intend to save up and make sure we can make a weekend of it. I have to get to that vampire ball!