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Tuesday, September 20, 2011


“From ghoulies and ghosties

And long-leggedy beasties

And things that go bump in the night,

Good Lord, deliver us!”

Traditional Scottish Prayer

After watching this year’s Emmy Show I was surprised with how out of touch I have been with network television. I do have a few guilty pleasures on the small screen especially now as the days grow shorter and the weather becomes crisp with the promise of snow in the air. Two favorite shows of guilty pleasure are the Science Fiction channel’s GHOST HUNTERS and GHOST HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL. I tell myself I am only watching for ideas for paranormal plots but the truth is I want to believe there is tangible evidence of the paranormal. Though I have no supernatural abilities myself I do remember when I was 7 my father turning white at my brother’s christening party and my mother being scared. I later learned, while in the kitchen getting ice my dad was confronted by his mother, except my grandmother had just died two short weeks before. Seems she had come back to see that my baby brother and my family were fine before she could pass over.

On my first visit to Scotland back in 1994 I had planned to visit Roslyn Chapel near Edinburgh after reading THE SWORD AND THE GRAIL by Andrew Sinclair. I was fascinated with the then belief of the chapel’s connection to the Knights Templar and the Holy Grail. After at least a week of tromping through graveyards looking for lost ancestors my husband willingly agreed going the Chapel would a nice change of pace. Unfortunately it didn’t turn out that way for my husband. We entered the Chapel and I was hit was a major sensory overload as to where to look, but after a while I realized my husband was nowhere to be found. I walked outside to find him smoking, weird because he had given it up years before. I asked him to come back in, as I wanted to show him the death mask of Robert Bruce but he refused. I could see he was upset so thinking I could come back later for a church service we left. Finally that night he admitted that he felt while in the chapel as he if he was being chocked and pushed to a dark corner of the chapel. He didn’t get relief until he left the chapel. Since then, I have returned four more times over the years, but he has flatly refused to not only to go in the chapel but refuse to enter the grounds.

Scotland rich in Celtic legends of fairy folk, brownies, kelpies, and witches is a vortex for all kinds of paranormal activities from ghost sightings, to hauntings, to Nessie and even UFO’s (Scotland has more sightings than anywhere in the world). As we approach the final month of the Celtic calendar I wanted to share two of my favorite haunted places in Scotland:

Bluidy Mackingie, come oot if you daur, left the sneck and draw the bar.”

Greyfairs Kirkyard and the Covenanters Prison:

I first visited here in 1994 on my first trip. Having been raised on all the old Walt Disney movies of the 60’s I had to see where the famous Greyfrairs Bobby was buried. For those of you who don’t know about this wonderful dog, when his owner died he would sneak into the Kirkyard and lay upon his owner’s grave. He was chased off daily but because of his unique loyalty to his owner even in death, he was cared for by the community and allowed to visit his master until he too died. In great Disney fashion, Bobby was buried near his master and the children of the US pooled their money to have a special monument erected for just for Bobby. At the time I first visited one couldwalk the grounds even in the grounds of the Covenanters Prison (17th century), which was turned into a graveyard.

However, all that changed in 1999. As the story goes a vagrant had somehow gotten into the Kirkyard, which was normally locked in the evening. Thinking to find a warm place to bed down for the night he entered George Mackenzie’s Tomb.

George Mackenzie, or “Bluidy Mackenzie” as he was later known, was Scotland’s chief Advocate for King Charles II and it was he who had over 1200 Covenanter prisoners (men, women and children) brought to Edinburgh and imprisoned in the field which is now the Kirkyard. Of the 1200 within 5 months of living out in the open, exposed to the Scottish weather only 257 remained alive. It is noted that Mackenzie took great pleasure in hanging and torturing the Covenanters hence his name.

Unfortunately while in the tomb, the vagrant fell through a floor in the tomb and landed on a mass grave of moldy bones, which were later determined to be plague victims. Scared out of his wits the man fled the tomb scaring the night watchman who heard the commotion. It was later learned that the vagrant had opened one of the caskets in the tomb probably looking for grave goods and in doing so it is believed he unleashed the spirit of Mackenzie. From 1999 forward over 400 members of the public have been attacked while on the Prison grounds. These attacks have included pushing, poking that left bruises and scratches, being knocked down and even knocked unconscious. Most of the attacks occur in or near the Black Mausoleum, which was once part of the prison but it is believed that these are the actions of the poltergeist of Mackenzie. The attacks have become so frequent that the Edinburgh Council has locked the Prison to visitors and is only opened for organized tours, which are not open to those with heart conditions or who are pregnant, those who are most often attacked. The mausoleum has been exorcized twice and one of exorcists died of a heart attack only two weeks after he performed the exorcism.

Hermitage Keep at Newcastleton, Scottish Borders... “SOD Off IN STONE”

The ruins of the Keep are a stark reminder of the type of stone keeps that scattered the Borders of Scotland from the 12th thru the 17th century Scotland. Though on the outside the keep seems to be in excellent condition, the interior has all but been destroyed by Border warfare and the elements. A keep or castle has been on the spot since the early 1200’s and the occupiers have been both Scottish and English, depending on the ebb and flow of warfare on the Anglo/Scottish Borders.

I visited the Keep in 2007 because the third book in my Scottish trilogy is plotted here. If you remember my post on Black Agnes last month you might remember that the siege at Dunbar was saved by Sir Alexander Ramsay and Hermitage is where he met his demise. In 1338, Sir William Douglas of Liddesdale captured the keep from the English commander Ralph de Neville and the Douglas family took control of the keep and surrounding area. However, King David II had decided to reward Sir Alex Ramsay by naming him sheriff of Teviotdale including Hermitage. Enraged by the slight from his King, Douglas lured Ramsay to the Keep where he threw him in the dungeon, which was a dank place with no air or sunlight and eventually starved him to death. Some of the ghostly sounds heard by visitors to the Keep are believed to be that of Ramsay as he attempts to claw himself out of the dungeon. Douglas was later named sheriff and suffered no penalty in Ramsay’s death. But Alexander isn’t the only ghost.

From 1274-1328 the keep was held by one Sir William de Soulis, who was reputed to be a practitioner of the black arts and was able to conjure up his familiar on Robin Redcap to do his dirty work. Soulis was said to have lured young children of the district and used their blood in his horrific rituals. The community was so fed up with the knight that they petitioned King Robert Bruce to remove him from the Keep, but Bruce tired of their complaints replied…

Boil him if you must, but let me hear no more of him.”

The people did just as the king wished; they captured him, wrapped de Soulis in lead and placed him head first in a boiling cauldron and kept him there until he died. Many visitors today believe that when they here the sobbing of young children while in the Keep the ghost of Solis is nearby.

And finally, for those of you who are into the Vampire Diaries, True Blood or the Twilight saga you won’t be disappointed to hear that Scotland has vampires too. Though I’m not a fan of vampire fiction I was surprised to learn that a vampire was sighted in the area around Lochmaben in Dumfries in recent years. Lochmaben once a keep of the Bruce family was the sight of a curse levied upon the Bruce family. In the 1200’s the Bruces were forced to move from Annan to Lochmaben because of a flood. The story is told of a visit by the Irish monk, St. Malachy who asked Lord Bruce to spare a thief from a hanging. Bruce complied or so the monk thought but as he passed by Lochmaben he saw the same thief hanging dead and placed a curse on the Bruce family. A curse that was taken seriously as they dedicated land in Annan with its rents went to pay for the upkeep of the shrine of St Malachy at the Cistercian house at Clairvaux. However, the area was to suffer from the plague in later years and many believe the vampire is a result of the curse and plague. The vampire seen in recent years is dressed like a monk but they know he is present when they find dead animal carcasses devoid of blood. The Scottish Ghost hunter Tom Roberston, has encountered the vampire at Lochmaben and has photos of the vampire in his book GHOST HUNTER: ADVENTURES IN THE AFTER LIFE. For everyone who leaves a comment today you will have a chance to win a copy of his book.

But remember the words of Scottish writer J M Barrie..."A house is never still in darkness to those who listen intently; there is a whispering in distant chambers, an unearthly hand presses the snib of the window, the latch rises. Ghosts were created when the first man awoke in the night. "


Angelyn said...

wow---fantastic post. I find Hermitage to be really spooky in person. Don't know if that's because it's haunted or just the surroundings. I read somewhere that Greyfriars (and certain parts of underground Edinburgh) are within a magnetic field that creates sensory glitches in the brain--hence strange visions. That doesn't explain the marvelous images in the video you included, but I have to say that my photography skills are so poor I frequently catch poltergeists in my photos even in broad daylight on the pitch during football games.

Kirsten Lynn said...

Great post!! I love reading stories like these. And, Ghost Hunters is a guilty pleasure of mine, too.


Maureen Welli said...

Jody, it is amazing all the knowledge you've aquired and shared. You're so lucky to be able to travel to Scotland and visit all these scary, enchanting and historic spots. Thank you for sharing these paranormal stories, I'm also a fan of Ghost Hunters and GHI and have seen a ghost myself.


Regencyresearcher said...

Can't see the videos but the commentary is great. I am not a fame of Ghost hunters( never saw either movie or TV show) and am not crazy about paranormal. Still, I have a couple books on Haunted places in England and Ireland.I think we have to expect residue of hundreds of years of history.

BetsyN said...

Ooooo spooky spooky! Loved this! You've never told me the story of your husband in the chapel. Could there be a reason for the attack? Perhaps something in his ancestry that may have prompted a spirit to lash out? So interesting!

Betsy Norman

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I love this post, Jody. I am a believer because I have seen ghosts and have some kind of connection to those not with us. Since I am a decendent of the Douglas, I wonder if some of my genes are connected to them. I just told my hubby we need to go to Roslyn Chapel on our next visit.

Did you ever go to the Rob Roy MacGregor grave? I had some kind of connection there, but it was a good one. It is one of my favorite days in our trip.

Fraoch said...

Angelyn one of the tour guides I have heard says that as well that it is tied to certian important electromatic line but not sure that there is much to this. I like to believe that such negative energy is one of the issues. That the sold called poltergeist goes after pregnant women and those with medical conditions seems tht he goes to most vulnerable. I agree about Hermitage, it doesn't have the cragie geography of the highlands but the desolate hills of the Borders can be unnerving.

Fraoch said...

Kristen considering all the silly realty tv out there I find I really enjoy these shows as pure escapism.

Fraoch said...

Thanks Maureen you must tell me about the ghost you saw I'm jealous.

Fraoch said...

Regencyresearcher there are some psuedo ghosts shows out there but I like how these guys at least the Ghost Hunters guys try to debunk everything. I stayed in Scotland in a very modern B/B but it was built with building suppllies (wood stone windows ect) from an old building built in the 1500's I tend to believe energy is still in the material and such energy can create one to beleive they see something that may not exist.

Fraoch said...

Betsy the chapel was a collegeiate chapel for the St Clair family who wever much Catholic, supposedly they raised a daughter of a Pope, who fathered a daughter before became a member of the clergy. So they were steeped in Catholicism, so Mark's only connection with Scotland is thru his grandmothers family the Adams who were a sept of the Gordons who were staunch Catholics. So I don't think there is a familial connection. But given his family were English might have somthing to do with it. Or he is just sensitive to this kind of thing, also happened in the inn we stayed in Wales, he would go anywhere near the corner of the room, creeped him out. The Inn was built in 1603. Or the spirits just didn't like him, there is that (lol).

Fraoch said...

Paisley we need to talk, I have done a lot of research on the Douglas family as my heroine Scottish prncess was betrothed to a Douglas (Earl of Angus) but married another Douglas (Earl of Morton). The Douglas family has so much influence in Scottish history way beyond the Stewarts and the Campbells or any of the Macdonals.

I haven't been to Rob Roy Macgregor grave, but the only conneciton of a woo woo variety was when i was on a train in northern Wales and in my minds eye I could see a villiage that I had never been before. When we went in 2007 we found that villiage and could tell my husband were certain shops were without ever being ther before, that was crazy and kind of creepy.

Fraoch said...

Just wanted to let everyone know that the winner of the Ghosthunting book this month is Paisley. Send me an email Paisley at jawisrwa@gmail.com with your snail mail addy,

Be back next month.