Ghosts lurked in 'houses, always old and mostly old fashioned, barns, lanes, the moated sites of old manor-houses, "four-want-ways" or the place of intersection of two cross-roads, churchyards, suicides' graves - which were spoken of, dreaded, avoided after nightfall, as being "haunted" - Atkinson 1814 -1900

Dedicated to the late Toby Ion,
writer & paranormal investigator

Patron - Chris Jenson Romer

Sunday, 30 March 2014




'The Ruskington Horror' is a very well known spontaneous case, if you have not heard the story, it is worth a read. Multiple eye-witness sightings of the same apparition over many years, along a stretch of road (A15) in Lincolnshire. Yet again as I research this story it's like walking in quicksand. So many accounts, so many theories and the more you go into it, the deeper you get. Everything from the traditional to the romantic. Tragic deaths, witches, a highwayman, hypnopompic hallucinations, and alcohol. 

Witness Kevin Whelan (1998) He had an experience that he will never forget. On a dark and lonely stretch of road in Lincolnshire the A15 near the Ruskington turn off, approximately 2am on a Sunday morning, he describes seeing a white shadow just as he got to the brow of the hill in his car.  Not believing anything supernatural he thought it was car lights and didn't give it much thought. He got to this white shadow when all of a sudden a face appeared on the drivers side of the car and windscreen, it appeared to have it's left hand up. He remembers driving a little too fast.  The apparition was not see through, he described a man with dark hair, kind of Greek looking with olive pitted skin. From the neck down it had a fluorescent look to it, he could also see its teeth. Witnessing it no more than 50 seconds.  He continued to drive at 60mph with this form still visible through his window. He had music playing loudly in the car, he pulled out the fascia in earnest.  The apparition seemed to just fade away down the side of the car. 

He quickly shot home, went indoors and locked the house door without locking the car door. He was so shaken by what he had seen, he started to cry, he then woke his wife up and told her what he had seen. The morning after he went to the car wash, as he put it 'to remove the memory of the event'. The following Sunday he returned to the same spot with a video camera in the hope of seeing it again to convince himself at to what he saw, but nothing happened. Kevin had heard that a friend of his had been told by a police officer that a motorcyclist had been killed on that stretch of road. Lincolnshire is a notorious black spot for motorcycle fatalities. 

One sceptics reaction was -
Certain things about the story stand out for me. Firstly that it was late at night, or rather a Sunday morning in a rural area. Far be it from me to suggest that Kevin had been at a boozer somewhere and was on his way home, but he wouldn't be the first, I'm sure. Secondly the bit about the cassette player, when I'm on my way home late at night, to stop myself from falling asleep at the wheel. I bet I'm not alone here, right? Hypnapompic hallucinations, to me Kev's story sounds just like he fell asleep or was falling asleep at the wheel, perhaps after a couple of sherberts, and woke suddenly, befuddled, as he travelled a stretch of road which knows has had at least one recent fatality (he also states that it happened just before "a very very tight bend"). I think his unconscious mind was shaking his conscious mind back into full control before he hit that tight bend when it would have been curtains for both minds!  Anyway, I would imagine you'd get a bloody good look at it, 40 or 50 seconds is a long time - get your stopwatch out and see, more than enough time to be sure of what the hell is going on. Unless, of course you aren't fully awake. You'd cover a considerable distance at 60+mph as well, can anyone local drive past the scene and estimate how far he'd have gone with this "bin bag" hanging off his wing mirror? 

Kevin wasn't the only one to have witnessed this apparition. 

Witness: Rob Burkett (1984) 
It was about 8:30pm I had just finished a delivery of day old chickens, it was around October-November time 1984. I used to stay at a bed and breakfast in Ruskington. All of a sudden a thing was on the side of the road with its hand up, he seemed to walk out just as I was going through the speed limit.  

Witness: Sarah Martin (1983)
She had seen a sighting the previous year. She and her boyfriend had been to the cinema in Lincoln and was driving back to Cranwell, when a black silhouette of a man seemed to run out of a ditch straight in front of their car. Her boyfriend who was driving didn't see anything. She noted that if it had been a person, they would have obviously hit it and described her experience as 'horrid and frightening'.

First witness: Kevin Whelan (1998)
He noted that first of all it looked like a white bin bag floating in front of him, he didn't see it of any concern until a face appeared in front of him, staring at him with its mouth wide open and appearing very distressed. His wife remarked on the psychological state of her husbands mind after the event. 'When he arrived home, he woke me up in a panic and stood there crying and was a white as a sheet' [sic] She had never seen him like this in their 13 year marriage. 'I have seen a ghost!!!'

Witness: Sarah (1996)
Sarah had her encounter in 1996 in the exact location that Kevin had seen it, black from head to toe, is all that is described about it.

Witness: School coach driver (1960)
In 1960 a man had been driving a school coach, he believed that he had run someone over, but when he got out of the vehicle to investigate nothing was there. 

Witness: Catherine Stephenson (date unknown)
Catherine was 15 at the time, she had been walking to Ruskington where she had attended school; she had sensed a presence behind her, feeling a cold shiver up her back, she turned around and saw a figure, but only its head and shoulders were visible, the rest of the torso was like a sheet. 

Witness: Jenny Sellars (1988)
Jenny saw a figure in 1988 when she was driving back from Sleaford to Lincoln.  She was driving carefully and slowly along a dark stretch of road when a sheet or a bit of plastic came towards her, like a plastic bin liner. It came down in front of the windscreen, she slammed her breaks on thinking she had hit something, she knew she hadn't as there had been no impact. There was nothing on the ground, it was just black outside.  

Christine Lee's father (date unknown)
Christine's father had worked at RAF Cranwell, one night he and his friends decided to cut through some fields to return to their barracks.  He saw a ghostly white figure 'coming from above him' [sic] with it's hand out as if to say 'don't go', he and his friends decided it would be better to go back the long way around. (Christine assumes that hand out gesture 'don't go' was a warning to her father as the fields may have been boggy and marshy.  Sometime later he had witnessed it again whilst driving, turning off the A15.

Witness: Lynn Gothing from Essex also said she saw the same thing around 1997, recalling that it looked like a monk waving. 

Witness: Helen Carter (date unknown) also sees a figure with its hand raised as if a warning. 

Many believe that this apparition could be a motorcyclist that met his end on the road. People also believe it to be a hermit who was run over by an army lorry back in WW2 (second world war).

The hangman's haunt also called 'Dunsbury Hollow' - is a nickname around this area. In the past a highwayman hid in a hollow (or dyke (ditch) and then held up stage coaches. 

Other apparitions witnessed in this general area - A woman in a pink ball gown. Also, two white cart horses which have been seen on numerous occasions. 

There is much speculation as to what is going on with regards to the Ruskington Horror. Are they just made up stories, altered states of conciousness, reinterpretations, hallucinations, ghost misidentification, coincidence, or something else science cannot explain? Or just a plain old bin liner, they are a bluddy nuisance when they get stuck under your car ;)

The full in-depth version can be found here - UK cases, Lincolnshire.


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Saturday, 22 March 2014

THIS GHOST IS A BIT SKETCHY - Spontaneous case, a man allegedly sees ghost of an old man in castle grounds. Ludlow Castle

Ludlow Castle, Shropshire, UK


21 March 2014

Sketch of the ghost he claims to have seen in Ludlow Castle.

ERIC Humphrey and his wife Cath have journeyed back to Ludlow to put a ghost to rest.
The couple from Bradford in West Yorkshire are great fans of Ludlow and have been regular visitors to the town for more than 30 years.
They are great fans of the Ludlow Festival and were at the last night last year when something extraordinary happened.
Eric, aged 81, was in the audience at the back by the wall before the start of the closing show when he could not believe his eyes.
“I saw a very elderly man with a walking stick taking slow steps across the grass,” said Eric.
“He was dressed in ordinary clothes and was shuffling along very slowly but was absolutely clear.
“I watched him for two or three minutes and ran down to the front but was distracted by the sound of an ambulance and he disappeared.”
No one else, including Eric’s wife Cath, aged 71, saw a thing but the artist has no doubt about what he had seen.
“It was as clear as if someone had just been a few yards away and was nothing like people imagine a ghost to be but was very real in the day light.”
Eric, a no-nonsense Yorkshire man, says that he had never seen anything like it before or since and on his return to Ludlow wants to know if anyone else saw the apparition on the last night of the festival last year.

While he says that he did not find the ‘ghost’ disturbing it has shaken him up.
“I just want to know if anyone else saw anything because I know what I saw. It was about 7pm when I saw the man.”
He says that he has since discovered that the unusual walking stick that the ‘man’ had with notches and a ‘pistol’ grip was common in Victorian times.
It is the most unusual thing to have happened to Eric and Cath in all the years that they have been coming to the Ludlow Festival.
“We first came to Ludlow in 1976 and have been back every year since,” said Cath.
“The first time that we came to the Ludlow Festival was in the early 1990s to see The Merchant of Venice.”
Eric, who is an accomplished artist specialising in aviation, had exhibitions of his work at Dinham House in Ludlow in 1992 and 1994.
“We had a Ford Fiesta so it took a lot of journeys to bring the paintings,” added Eric.
Cath says that at best she remembers it took six trips to get all of the paintings to Ludlow.
But Eric’s art skills have come in useful and enabled him to make an accurate drawing of the ‘ghost’ that he saw at the Ludlow Festival last year.
He is hoping that someone else will have seen something or has some information about the elderly man who wanders the grounds of Ludlow Castle and seemingly has a passion for the arts.
It could be yet another attraction for one of the best summer festivals in the country.
The Ludlow Arts Festival, a pretty busy time of year for visitors, why did this ghostly gent stand out so much from the crowds?
An interesting and trustworthy story, from a senior gentleman; a spontaneous account; what did Eric actually see? A normal person or a ghost? 'just vanished into thin air or just disappeared into the crowd?'. 

"Sometimes you have to stand further back to see the whole picture". 

This is a relevant example of 'When ghosts appear' sporadically and two thirds of sightings happen in the afternoon, witnessed by people going about their daily lives with no thought of the paranormal. My case in point too that, 'Ghost hunters look for ghosts in the dark'. This case happened at 7pm, assuming it was still daylight -(summer festival).

It is refreshing to read about these types of experiences, this man probably had no interest in the paranormal up until that point. I generally find it mind numbingly boring reading about paranormal type experiences involving the true believers and investigators going out looking for ghosts, (which frequently involves one bias or another) 

I tend to be sceptical about what I read in news articles, due to their sensationalistic nature and their indirect advertising techniques, in this case mentioning the Summer festival and the added irrelevance of his artwork, (apart from the dodgy sketch!) and what the heck has a Ford Fiesta got to do with anything??? Is anyone's guess!

Why go to the papers about it anyway? He wants anyone else to come forward in regard to the sightings, has anyone else seen it? 

  • Possible misperception
  • a living person (just an old guy with an old walking stick)
  • a ghost/spirit

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Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Ghoulish Crimes and Punishments through the centuries

Not for the faint of heart!

Ghoulish crimes, punishments and morbid tales

It's little wonder ghosts still haunt some places, as they still linger and fear to move on to the next world.

Only people who did heinous crimes were subjected to the most horrible of punishments in England.

In the past people craved a decent burial, but if you were tried for murder or any other heinous crime then you could find yourself gibbeted, or hanged drawn and quartered, flogged, burned alive, guillotined or pressed to death.
If you were lucky you would get off with a straight forward hanging from a long drop which brought you a quick death, alternatively if you weren't so lucky, you would be hung from a short drop where your body would have writhed about for at least and hour, you would choke and vomit yourself to death.  The innocent were also punished too. Gibbeting..hung up from a metal cage, the local blacksmith would measure you up for a gibbet cage and they would cram you in it, hang you 30 foot high off the ground then leave you to die where bits would drop off and what remained of your decomposing flesh the crows would peck off including your eyeballs.

Winter's Gibbet - - 671301
A Northumberland gibbet - stands on the site of one from which the body of William Winter, he was suspended in chains after he had been hanged at The Westgate in Newcastle. Today this grisly relic is called Winter's Gibbet.

'Gallows birds' The gibbet story of a Lincolnshire murderer 'Tom Otter' the flesh fell off his jawbone and a blue tit nested inside his mouth and had its young. The poem goes  "nine tongues within one head the tenth went out to seek for bread, to feed the living within the dead" As the old lady walked past his gibbet cage she noticed a nest of starlings in his rib cage. 44 years he was hung up in the gibbet, eventually it blew down in the wind. His bones lie buried beneath the gibbet post.  You can still hear the phantom creaking of the gibbet post and hear the rattling of chains that held up Tom Otter's gibbet cage.

Resurrectionists by phiz

If you found yourself living rough in the sleazy part of Edinburgh in the 1700's then it wasn't a pleasant time for you, you didn't lay down to sleep without keeping one eye open because a body snatcher might be lurking round the next corner. Body snatching was rife in the area and you could have been their next victim! Body snatching and grave robbing was so bad graveyards had large walls and railings built around them, doctors would pay good money for a good supply of cadavers, they also used executed criminals for anatomical experimentation. But criminals found their own sinister methods of profiteering the business by supplying medical students with fresh bodies, so fresh in-fact they were just barely alive!  Burke and Hare were notorious body snatchers of the era, they had their own form of strangulation by restricting their victims breathing by covering the nose and mouth so as not to damage the body, the method was known as 'Burking'. Dr Knox paid up to seven pounds seven shillings for the bodies so he could carry out his 'no questions asked' work, easy money for the pair. When they did the grave robbing they would remove the body and replace it with tanning bark.  After many years the pair were found out through rumour and Burke was sentence to hang. On January 28th 1829 Burke was hanged, over 25,000 people attended the execution, the crowded cheered 'Burke him, Burke him!!"  Ironically HIS body also ended up being dissected by medical students who removed sections of his skin and bound a book with it, it is stamped on the front in gold lettering 'Burke's Skin 1829' but before dissection, Burke's corpse was put on a slab in town, a public exhibition for thousands to see and walk past at a rate of sixty people a minute. His skeleton can still be seen at Surgeon's Hall in Edinburgh along with his death mask and the life mask of is cohort Hare, but did you know, Hare got off Scot free!!

Mary I Queen of Scots

Mary Queen of Scots ghost wanders many an earthy pile, her life was taken away in 1587 by the executioners axe.
She laid down her head, putting her chin over the block with both her hands she laid there quietly, and stretching out her arms cried, "In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum" ("Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit"), she endured two strokes with the axe, making hardly a noise or moving so the executioner cut off her head, although not detaching it accurately, he lifted up her head to the view of all the assembly and bade God save the Queen. Then lifted her wig off her head, her hair appeared as grey as a women's of threescore and ten years old, cut very short, her face in a moment being so much altered from the form she had when she was alive, as few could remember her by her dead face. Her lips stirred up and a down a quarter of an hour after her head was cut off.

A very ordinary lady by the name of Margaret Clitherow who lived in York in the 1500's was found guilty of practicing Catholicism which was considered treason in that era.  She held mass in her house knowing that if the authorities found out, there would be hell to pay.  Alas one day her home was searched and chalices and vestments were found and she was arrested.  But the trial couldn't proceed because she wouldn't plead, she shouted "I need no trial!" which lead to a very barbaric death by pressing.  Only aged thirty she was laid on the floor with a stone under her back and a door place on top of her she was subjected to having heavier and heavier stones placed upon her chest until a plea was entered, the weight of the stones on  her chest became too great for the condemned lady to breathe, fatal suffocation finally occurred.  Her home is now a shrine.