Ghosts in the News: Nov 2017 [2]

newspaperHalloween may be over, but these fresh news reports might interest ghost hunters.

Some suggest places we can investigate. Others are only worthy of a raised eyebrow.

Pluckley (England) is a good example of why ghost hunters need to look for fresh investigation sites.

Oh, Pluckley sounds like it’s very haunted. That’s not the issue.

One article, Is Pluckley still England’s most haunted village?, suggests that – at Halloween – the entire village might be off-limits to ghost hunters. It was, a few years ago.

Despite that, Pluckley is practically a cornucopia of delightful ghost stories. A 2015 article from The Sun described them nicely in Britain’s most haunted village.

YouTube offers several videos about Pluckley’s ghosts. Some are more sensational than others. I like this old-school 1995 video:

I’d eagerly visit Pluckley to see if it’s truly haunted. But, I’d be very discreet about my research, relying on observation more than obvious ghost hunting equipment.

Pluckley’s tales have far more credibility than a 2017 story from St. Osyth in Essex (England).  It’s describe in an article in The Sun, Britain’s most haunted house on the site of witch prison goes on sale… Ordinarily, I’d guess that “witch prison” story was a parody, but it’s presented as actual news.

Well, maybe…

Any site that claims to have a “satanic goat” (not sure what makes it “satanic”), recurring blood spatters, and three apparitions – and then boasts of a prison door and “Coffin Alley” just outside… that stretches credulity past the breaking point.

The owner claims she didn’t know the site’s history when she bought it. That may be true. But, I’d think the old sign in the wall, describing the site as The Cage – Mediaeval Prison, might have been a hint.

In general, this seems as over-hyped as last October’s Deerpark school videos. They show a preposterous collection of “poltergeist” incidents.

In the most recent video, I can’t see the fishing line clearly. (Other viewers said they saw it.) It’s probably off-screen, close to the camera. I’m fairly sure it’s attached to two legs of the chair. Then, they ran the line around the pipes at the lower right corner of the screen. Off-camera, a tug on the line would drag the chair across the room, just as in this video.

Neither October 2017 Deerpark video is credible. But hey, if that Irish school raises money from YouTube advertising revenues, I’m okay with that. Just don’t take the videos seriously.

If you’re ghost hunting in Ireland, the Irish Mirror suggests Co. Offaly, instead. That article describes a haunted triangle formed by castles at Kinnitty, Leap, and Charleville.

(Irish Central adds a fourth point: Clonony Castle. The videos in that article may raise eyebrows, but the historical notes are interesting.)

Kinnitty castle seems worth investigating. Someone left a long, negative review of it at TripAdvisor, including a reference to a ghost in her room:

We went to bed and when the lights went out, the room was black dark… then we heard breathing coming from the corner of the room. I never slept a wink all night. My boyfriend then told me he saw a shadow in the room at 3am!

Though that could be a fake review, she’s so critical of everything, I’d take it seriously. (It’s the kind of thing I look for, when I’m searching for haunted hotels and B&Bs to visit. A rant about the site’s ghosts is more credible than half a dozen raves about them.)

Americans interested in Irish haunts may appreciate the following video. (The special effects and unfortunate pronunciations are distracting, and I started to hate the word “creepy” after the first few minutes. Despite that, the overview of each location is pretty good.)

In the near future, I’ll post more information about haunted places in the U.K.

(Meanwhile, my friend Jen recommends Pendle Hill, Bolsover Castle, and Jamaica Inn in Cornwall. The latter surprised me, as I’d expected that to be pure hype. But, I trust Jen’s advice. I’m pretty sure she’s investigated more of England – and more recently – than I have.)

Closer to home (currently the U.S.), I’m interested in ghost reports around Niagara County in upstate New York.

I believe that part of the U.S. may have many undiscovered haunts… more than most other parts of the country.

Here’s one recent article: Niagara County is home to many ghosts, part II.

In that story, I’m most intrigued by Cold Springs Cemetery in Lockport, NY. I don’t see much about it, online, and – as of late November 2017 – no YouTube videos about its ghosts.

To me, that suggests a site that hasn’t been over-investigated… yet.

But, it seems to be a private cemetery, open to people who own cemetery plots, and only between 8 AM and 8 PM. (See site info: Cold Springs Cemetery.)

That might dampen my enthusiasm, but the Lockport area offers some great investigation sites. For example, Lockport Caves was featured in an episode of Ghost Hunters, and on Off Limits.

The following video shows some of the area’s highlights. (Info starts around the 1:03 mark, and Lockport is more prominently mentioned around 4:55.)

Mix abandoned buildings, a labyrinth of tunnels, a tragedy or two, plus lots of water… that’s exactly what I look for, as a ghost hunter.

I’m not sure how often the caves (and nearby building sites) are open for ghost tours, except at Halloween. If I were in the area, I’d organize a group of interested ghost hunters, and ask the tour company about specialty tours for investigators.

Those are a few recent ghost hunting news articles that interested me. Several feature locations I didn’t know about, and I’d like to explore.

If you’ve visited any of these places and have insights, I hope you’ll share your comments at Hollow Hill.

Westford Knight – His Important in Ghost Hunting

In yesterday’s Hollow Hill article (about haunted Haverhill), I mentioned the Westford Knight. I’m not sure that Westford (Massachusetts) site is actually paranormal, though it might be worth checking out.
 
Westford Knight site, Westford, MA (templars)
The Westford Knight, in Westford © 2004 Matthew Trump

In my ley lines (for ghost hunting) research, I include the Westford Knight site because it has a weird (and credible) enough context.

 
Of course, between age, vandalism, and decades of acid rain, the artwork on the Westford Knight grave marker is barely visible now. (30 years ago, it was still fairly impressive. Today, it’s more likely to evoke a big yawn.)
 
So, here are references that may explain my enthusiasm when the Westford grave shows up on a ley line.
 
First, here’s a link to a lengthy history supporting the Westford Knight theories. (Illustrations aren’t so great.)
 
 
Instead, look at the photos with this not-as-informative article:
 
And here’s an article that shows a grave marker from a related era, in a similar style, with an equally fascinating history.
 
Whether or not you take the Westford Knight history seriously, it stands out as an anomaly. It’s something weird and incongruous in an otherwise typical, lovely New England town.
In the future, I’ll talk more about ley lines and how useful they are to ghost hunters. But, for now, the Westford Knight is a great example of a not-necessarily-ghostly point that increases the potential of any ley line that crosses it.
That includes the haunted Haverhill ley line.

Haunted Haverhill – Article

Haverhill is haunted. In fact, it may be one of New England’s most overlooked — and reliable — haunted communities.

Haunted Haverhill articleThat makes it a great location for ghost hunting.  But, many of the best locations are off-limits at night, or require a fee to explore.

Don’t let that deter you. Haverhill’s ghosts can be worth the extra effort.

In 2017, I was interviewed for an article that describes many of Haverhill’s best haunts: Haunted in Haverhill, by Alison Colby-Campbell, in the October 2017 issue of Haverhill Life.

Here are some of my notes from my research for that interview.

My early Haverhill ley line research produced two maps.

The first included points related to known haunts and suspected ghosts.

Haverhill Ley Lines - First draft
First draft of Haverhill ley lines. I was NOT convinced these were strong lines.

In that map (courtesy of Google Maps), you’ll see two triangles.

In the first triangle, dashed lines connect the Northpoint Bible College site (former location of Bradford College) and Buttonwoods/Pentucket Burial Ground area to Hilldale Cemetery.

In the second triangle, the solid lines connect the same initial points to St. James’ Cemetery instead of Hilldale.

Anything within the two, overlapping triangles might be worth extra research. Those areas have a greater likelihood of ghosts.

Maybe.

The problem was: when I was working with that map, it just didn’t feel right.

That’s difficult to articulate, and it’s one reason I’m rewriting my ley lines book.

At this point, it’s simplest to say that some of my ley lines work is intuitive. Further, if I keep working on the troublesome map that “guesswork” almost always rings true.

That was the case with the Haverhill map.

On a whim, I took a fresh look at the map. I studied everything in the area, and thought about weird news reports and nearby paranormal sites.

That’s when I remember the Westford Knight. (That site is in Westford, MA. I’m not sure it’s still worth visiting, but — many years ago, when I first saw it — it definitely looked like a primitive, medieval knight’s burial.)

Haverhill ley lines map, revised
The Westford Knight > Haverhill > Isles of Shoals ley line.

When I connected the dots between the Westford Knight site, Northpoint Bible College, and Buttonwoods, it went through Walnut Cemetery and over the Isles of Shoals.

That line made more sense to me. It hit more major weird/paranormal sites.

  • Westford Knight? Weird.
  • Northpoint/Bradford college? Weird and haunted.
  • Buttonwoods? Very haunted. I’d go back there just for another look at the haunted mirror in the parlor.
  • Walnut Cemetery? Strange. Something was odd (not just haunted) when I investigated it. It seemed as if the cemetery amplified unhealthy impulses among the living. (Yes, I know how bizarre that sounds. It’s more likely my imagination was working overtime.)
  • Isles of Shoals? Over two centuries of weird legends and, of course, ghosts.

If I were scouting haunted locations for a TV series (something I’ve done in the past), I’d focus on that line. I’d follow it exactly, and ask questions at any shops, restaurants, or other public sites along the way.

Frankly, that line is so strong, I’d stake my reputation on it leading through some other very weird (and probably haunted) locations.

It’s just a matter of looking, and asking questions of enough people. That takes persistence, patience, and a little audacity at times. But, it’s usually worthwhile, if you’re looking for unreported haunted places. You might find some so dark and weird, people avoid talking about them.

So, yes, if you’re a ghost hunter, Haverhill can be a goldmine of investigation sites, with very vivid ghosts.

Ghostly News and a CT Ley Line – 10 Oct 2016

October is here, and so are articles that show a profound misunderstanding of what ghost hunters do.

I’m rather irked reading the insults in “Study links poor understanding of the physical world to religious and paranormal beliefs.”

Tarring all religions and paranormal beliefs with the same brush, the article –  based on a study by Marjaana Lindeman and Annika Svedholm-Häkkinen of the University of Helsinki – claims:

“The results showed that religious and paranormal (supernatural) beliefs correlated with all variables that were included: low systemizing, poor intuitive physics skills, poor mechanical ability, poor mental rotation, low school grades in mathematics and physics, poor common knowledge about physical and biological phenomena…”

That list continues, but I think you get the point.

And, I know quite a few highly educated priests and professors who’d disagree with that correlation.

Oh, I’m not disputing the study results, just the sampling they used or the methods, or both.

It’s typical of the bias we deal with as researchers.

But, for every annoying article like that one, I find several news stories that intrigue me.

I started with an article about a haunted site in Pennsylvania. Then, I found a news article about a Connecticut ghost investigation. After that, I started connecting the dots – literally. In the explanation that follows, you’ll see how I use news stories and maps to find even more interesting places to investigate.

ghostbat

theatre curtainFirst, there’s the Casino Theater in Vandergrift, PA (USA). It’s opening for an investigation. The site’s history sounds like it’s worth a visit.

I’m always interested in haunted theaters. An unusually high percentage of theaters have ghost stories, and very obliging ghosts.

I mention them in my article, What Makes a Great Haunted Research Site.

  • Theater ghosts often respond well to direction (just as actors do).
  • Backstage, almost every theatre has at least one haunted dressing room… with a juicy story.
  • And, almost every theater has a ghost that supposedly sits or stands in the dark, near the back of the theater. In some cases, a cigarette may be involved, as well as visible wisps of smoke, or a smoky aroma.

If you’re in the Vandergrift area, learn more at this article: Casino Theater paranormal investigation attracts believers, skeptics.

ghostbat

Then there’s the Dr. Ashbel Woodward House Museum in Franklin, Connecticut. It used to be the home of a medical practice. Today, it’s a historical site.

A news story describes a recent investigation at the site. I’m not sure it’s very haunted, but it has the features I look for in a historical site that’s likely to have ghosts of some kind.

If you’re near Connecticut, here’s the article: Ghost hunters look for paranormal activity at Franklin museum.

About 15 minutes away, a “My Ghost Story” episode was filmed at 3 Boswell Avenue in nearby Norwich (CT). Apparently, some ghosts still linger. (The segment was “The Grim Rapper” from “I Am Full of Madness” that aired 14 May 2011.)  You can read about it in TV show will explore ‘haunted’ home that drove man from Norwich.

If you want to see the Norwich site, remember it’s a private residence. Be discreet and respectful of their privacy.

ghostbat

Exploring ley lines

The proximity of those two haunted locations makes it easy to draw a line between the two sites. In fact, any time I see two paranormal sites – especially haunted sites – near each other, I draw a line that connects them.

Then, I extend that line in both directions, and see where it leads me.

After reading about those two Connecticut haunts, I was eager to get to work. I’ve never been to Norwich, so I wasn’t sure what I’d find, but my “gut feeling” told me I’d find some great haunted places, nearby.

First, using Google Maps, I constructed a line from 3 Boswell Avenue to the Dr. Ashbell Woodward House Museum.

Then, I checked a few local landmarks that were on or near that line.

Immediately, I was drawn to Norwich’s Colonial Cemetery. That cemetery is closed, but the information online looks fascinating.

With three interesting haunts along one line, I knew I’d find more. So, I kept researching odd places close to the line.

Almost instantly, I found Norwich State Psychiatric Hospital, aka, Norwich State Hospital for the Insane. Several ghost hunters reported it as a terrifying place to investigate… when they could visit it.

As of 2016, this dangerous site – with demolished buildings and collapsed tunnels – is strictly off-limits and unsafe.





In addition, Norwich State Hospital looks like it’s over a mile away from the line.

Many researchers limit their ley lines widths to 12 feet. Others talk about lines as wide as 15 miles.

A few researchers insist that extreme weather, emerging fault lines, and other natural issues suggest that ley lines may be expanding, too.

Personally, I vary the width of the line with the location. That’s part common sense and part “gut feeling.”

In New Orleans’ French Quarter, the lines can be just a few feet wide. In other areas, I’ll expand them a few miles at the very most. My goal is to keep my lines as narrow and focused as possible.

So, I’m iffy about including Norwich State Hospital. If I had more time, I’d look for more ghost reports on or near the line. I’d judge the line width based on how many sites are nearby.

I might try some line variations, using the hospital as a starting point. That site’s ghost stories are certainly lurid.

But, at the moment, I’m not sure. And, I’m working on my next book. So, I’ll leave this ley line for others to explore and refine.

Nevertheless, this shows you how I use news stories and maps – plus some online research – to find and evaluate other sites that could be haunted.

Salem Witch Hangings, Proctor’s Ledge, and Gallows Hill

The mystery may have been solved. According to recent research, Gallows Hill Park in Salem, Massachusetts, isn’t where the accused “witches” were hanged. It seems that the real location might have been nearby Proctor’s Ledge.

I’ve been waiting for this announcement since October 2008.  Despite my ley line map that seems to point to Gallows Hill Park, I’ve suspected that the real 17th century crimes took place a block or two away.

Of course, I’m chagrined that my ley line map is no longer as straightforward and tidy as it had been, before this discovery. However, I’d rather have the truth… and a genuine history to work with, for future Salem investigations.

Meanwhile, the media describe Proctor’s Ledge as “in back of a Walgreens.”

Technically, that’s true. However, the neighborhood is mostly residential, with a Walgreens store & pharmacy at the foot of the hill.

If you investigate around Proctor’s Ledge, remember that much of the surrounding area is private property.

In addition, I’m not sure you need to hike into the slightly wooded area to conduct ghost research. A quiet stroll around the neighborhood — not disturbing the residents — may provide the paranormal experience you’re looking for. (See my story, below.)

More news reports

My story

Since Halloween (Samhain) eve in 2008, I’ve been waiting for this announcement. That’s when psychic Gavin Cromwell — not related to me, as far as I know* — and I wandered around the neighborhood between Salem’s Essex Street, Boston Street, and Gallows Hill Park. [Map link]

Earlier that afternoon, we’d filmed a TV segment at Salem’s “Witch House.” Then, we’d left the film crew to pack up their gear and probably find their way to one of Salem’s many wonderful cafes, pubs, and restaurants.

Instead of relaxing over a hearty meal, Gavin and I wanted to be part of Salem’s annual Samhain celebration.The circle and ceremony at Gallows Hill Park is legendary. That evening, it was open to the public, and — as usual — attracted a very large crowd. (That year, it was hosted by the Temple of the Nine Wells.)

With nothing else to do before the gathering, Gavin and I went for a walk.

In other words — and for the benefit of skeptics — we had no audience. It was just the two of us. No audience. No cameras. Gavin had no reason to invent stories to impress anyone; I already knew he was psychic.

On that late afternoon in October 2008, Gavin and I hiked up and down the residential streets near Gallows Hill Park. Gavin felt drawn to that neighborhood, not the more famous landmark just a block (or so) away.

I’d love to claim that I was the one who first suggested that the Proctor’s Ledge area was the real gallows site.

I didn’t.

In fact, Gavin not only announced it first, he seemed absolutely confident it was where some of the accused “witches” had been hung.

After that, we walked back and forth around the area he focused on. As usual, we bounced our psychic impressions off one another, fine-tuning the history we sensed.

By the time we noticed others arriving at the nearby park, both of us were convinced that some (not necessarily all) of the victims of the Salem Witch Trials had been executed at that location.

And then we went to the Samhain celebration.

(Note: We agreed that something else — something not very nice — had happened at Gallows Hill Park, not just in the 17th century, but later, as well. So, that park is worth investigating if you’re in the area.)

Proctor’s Ledge video

The following video was filmed in 2012 and posted at YouTube by thedevilshopyard. It’s a good way to see what the ledge actually looks like, if you hike into the wooded area.

As you can see, the site is close to at least one busy street. So, especially if you’re hoping to investigate after dark, make sure you have permission. Neighbors and passing cars will notice flashlights, and call the police.

(And, if the site is open to the public and you explore that area, be prepared for poison ivy and very uneven ground.)