Eden Camp Ghosts – The Roman Army Connection

This is the second article in a series, showing how I research “haunted” locations – like North Yorkshire’s Eden Camp – when I have no ghost stories to work with. Is the site worth investigating? If it’s Eden Camp, the answer is yes.

(Update: After seeing the first “Most Haunted” investigation episode, I’m even more interested in the site.)


Eden Camp – in Malton, England – has at least a thousand reasons to be haunted: one ghost for every POW (mostly Nazi officers) who lived there between 1942 and 1948.

However, when looking at Eden Camp’s ghosts and at haunted sites in nearby Malton, the prison camp may be the tip of the iceberg.

Eden Camp Ghosts - The Roman army connectionSome of the area’s ghosts – or at least residual energy hauntings – probably date back to the 1st century.

Maybe earlier.

The story starts with the Romans. And, from my research, if the Romans occupied a British site for more than a century… it’s haunted.

About two miles south of Eden Camp, the Romans built a camp and then a timber fort for troops. It was Derventio Brigantum,  built in the Flavian period (69 – 96 AD).

Ruins suggest an even earlier settlement beneath it.

The Romans occupied the area until the end of the 4th century. That means many Romans lived and died there. That’s a compelling reason to investigate Eden Camp and the Malton area.

Roman Ghosts are Different

Most hauntings seem to involve ghosts of famous people – like Anne Boleyn – or ghosts of people who lived between 1600 and the present day.

Of course, there are exceptions.

Roman ghosts are noteworthy, and their ghosts around York are legendary.

Ghosts with only half a body

As far as I know, York (the city) is where people first reported Roman ghosts with only half a body… the upper half.

That’s not unusual among apparitions. People often see an upper body that seems to fade into nothing, from the waist down.

(That may be explained by a Japanese study – from at least a decade ago – showing that people store more energy in their upper body. If that energy lingers after death, perhaps it manifests in the shape of the upper body? Of course, that’s extreme speculation, but it makes sense to me.)

So, what was different in York…?

Those Roman bodies didn’t fade gradually at waist level.

It was more like they’d emerged from a magician’s “sawed in half” act, but one where things went very wrong.

And, from the torso movement, the ghostly bodies seemed to be walking, anyway.

So, paranormal researchers studied the phenomenon.  Then, they realized that those ghosts – perhaps residual energy images – were walking on roads and paths that existed in the past.

The ghosts weren’t half-bodies, after all.

They were full apparitions, but the other half was underground.  (I’ve talked about this in the past, analyzing a ghost video.)

Ghosts and the Roman fort at MaltonMy point is: Roman ghosts – or at least their spiritual energy – seem to linger longer – and more vividly – than many ghosts from more recent eras.

I’m not sure why.

When I learned that Romans had built a fort in Malton, near Eden Camp – and probably a settlement around it – and the Romans lived there for four centuries… that really sparked my interest in the area.

It’s likely you’ll find Roman ghosts around Malton.

A Forgotten Burial Site?

I’m not sure how much archaeologists have excavated Malton’s Bronze Age tumulus (burial mound). At least one urn from the site is at the British Museum.

Here’s a 1926 map of Malton, showing the Roman Camp (outlined in green), and the tumulus (in red), next to – and perhaps partially beneath – the London North Eastern Railway tracks.

I’ve placed the 1926 map over a modern one (courtesy of Google Maps), for a general idea of what’s where, today… with apologies for mismatched areas.

1926 map of Malton, England - Roman camp

(The yellow arrow indicates the Lodge – still in Malton – and, in the blue oval, where Malton Castle once was. Both sites have unusual histories.)

So, at this point in my research, I’d found evidence of:

  • Ley lines connecting Eden Camp (and Malton) with several significant, haunted sites.
  • Many psychological reasons why Eden Camp might be haunted, including the powerful personalities of the Nazi officers imprisoned there.
  • The likelihood of Roman ghosts within two miles of Eden Camp (and possibly at the camp itself).
  • A burial mound with railroad tracks over part of it. 

With this much quirky information, I was ready to delve deeper into the ancient history of Malton and Eden Camp.

It was time to return to my maps for a closer look at ley lines and Roman roads.

Roman Roads, Ley Lines, and Eden Camp Ghosts

Roman roads, ghosts, and ley lines

Alfred Watkins (1855 – 1935) popularized ley lines as straight lines between geographical landmarks and communities.

Ley lines seem to be useful in ghost research, too.

In the 1960s, John Michell – in his book, The New View Over Atlantis –  suggested links between ley lines, sacred sites, and paranormal activity.

After that, many more investigators explored ley lines and reached similar conclusions. In his book, Mysteries, Colin Wilson quotes Michell:

[On the subject of ley lines] “Traditionally, they are also paths of psychic activity, of apparitions, spirits of the dead…”

From my own studies, I can vouch for that.

Many researchers – including David Yarrow – suggest that some Roman roads followed ley lines. At the website Terra: Sacred Space, Yarrow explained:

“Watkins’ friends joined his weekend hiking trips to document his vision. In early years, Watkins was convinced the alignments were ancient trader tracks linking settlements by the shortest pathways. In fact, Roman roads were built on the alignments. But careful research revealed the alignments existed long before Roman conquest. Late in his life, Watkins began to believe some other intention than commerce motivated ancient people to create the alignments.” [emphasis added]

Yarrow is correct about the alignments. This two-minute YouTube video shows how the Romans built long-lasting roads along precise – and carefully chosen – lines.

That YouTube video is at https://youtu.be/IsxTXzjLomU

But why did the Romans choose those lines, and why make them so straight? Why not follow the contours of the land, heading in the general direction of the nearest community?

I’m not sure if answers exist. Some ley line enthusiasts equate ley lines and Roman roads, and suggest a spiritual element to the Romans’ plans.

That may be true. Here’s what I’ve observed:

  • When I can connect three or more haunted sites with a straight line, those sites are usually haunted.
  • When I can’t find connecting lines – or any other evidence supporting actual ghosts – the site usually has other issues. Most often, it’s a wiring problem resulting in high EMF, or subtle vibrations from an underground stream are disorienting the residents.

So far, I haven’t decided if Roman roads and ley lines correlate.

But ley lines weren’t my only reason to study Roman roads near Eden Camp.

I wanted to see if Malton was a small (but long-enduring) Roman outpost at the end of a dirt path, or something bigger.

A bigger settlement could mean more ghostly energy.

All Roads Lead to… Malton?

I created the following map – based on others’ historical research – to see how important Malton was in Roman times.

So many Roman roads point to Malton, the town seems like a major hub of Roman activity. That suggests a significant Roman population.

That could explain why – in the first Most Haunted episode about Eden Camp – the ghosts claimed multiple people died there. (Only one death had occurred during the POW era.)

And, since those Roman roads – perhaps ley lines – converge at Malton, that could mean the town has heightened paranormal activity, too. (That’s not guaranteed. In the early stages of evaluating a site, I lean slightly towards skepticism… but note this kind of configuration, anyway.)

Roman roads and ghosts in Malton, England

Also, Eden Camp’s location is so close to the center of that network, it’s reasonable to believe the prison camp was not the first use of that site.

In fact, I’d question if the land already had a “bad vibe” or something, so people decided it wasn’t prime real estate. In that case, it was a perfect site for a POW camp.

I’ve seen this in the past. When a community wants to build something distasteful – a cemetery, a prison, etc. – they look for empty land that’s slightly outside the town centre. Often, that land is empty because it has an unsavory history, or a creepy legend connected to it.

If Eden Camp is truly eerie and haunted, I’d bet the land beneath it has an unsavory history.

Whatever happened on that land in the past, its history (and energy) may be part of what’s haunting Eden Camp.

In my next article, I’ll describe several other reasons why Malton – and Eden Camp – may be haunted. And I’ll list some of the most-often reported ghosts there.

Malton has a fascinating history including political conflicts, plots, feuding relatives… and an unusual mystery that’s never been explained.

Eden Camp Ghosts – Evidence for Paranormal Activity

Eden Camp… is it really haunted? That’s what I wanted to know, before watching the Most Haunted TV episodes (11 & 18 Jan 2019) about that location.

Here’s why I’m confident of Eden Camp’s ghosts, and why Malton (England) is likely to be haunted… perhaps very haunted.

(If you’re looking for insights about Most Haunted’s Eden Camp investigation, you may enjoy Eden Camp Ghosts – Where the Ghosts Make It Personal.)

Here’s how I researched Eden Camp’s ghosts.


Eden Camp Ghosts - Evidence
Photo by Christine Matthews, see Resources below

First, I looked for Eden Camp ghost stories, online, and found nothing credible.

That was a small red flag… but a very small one. Personally, I prefer to investigate sites that haven’t been visited by thousands of ghost hunters.

Even if the site is a tourist attraction by day, the ghostly energy can be fresher – easier to detect – if I’m among the first to investigate its ghosts.

And, since Most Haunted was visiting the Eden Camp Museum – and found enough activity for two episodes – I wanted to know more.

So, I looked for ley lines. I found several lines that include Eden Camp.

The following map convinced me to continue researching Eden Camp’s ghosts.

(Note: I don’t claim ley lines as “proof” of anything paranormal. But, though some may raise an eyebrow, this kind of pre-investigation research can be helpful.)

Ley Lines Connecting Eden Camp to Other Haunted Sites

The red line is the most reliable. It connects Eden Camp to Nunnington Hall, brushes by Kiplin Hall, and continues to Ravensworth Castle. All of them have credible ghost stories.

If I widen the line by a mile or two – reasonable when the line covers so much distance (and maps aren’t 100% accurate) – haunted Barnard Castle is on this line, too.

Eden Camp Museum ghosts - ley lines to other haunted places

Another possible ley line intrigues me. It connects the Devil’s Arrows with Eden Camp and continues to Filey, an area with noted haunted locations.

 

The Devil’s Arrows, shown below, are three (of five or more) standing stones that form a line that extends through four Neolithic earthworks, Nunwick Henge, and the three Thornborough henges. (Per Nigel Pennick’s research in Leylines: Mysteries of the Ancient World.)

Photo of Devil's Arrows, mysterious monuments in Yorkshire, England

In addition, a Roman road connected the Eden Camp area with Filey, and those roads were among Watkins’ earliest ley line studies.

Note: I’m working with broad “ley line” (or energy line) concepts. I want to see at least three anomalous – usually haunted – sites on a single straight line.

The longer the line, the more sites I should find, and they should be well-documented for paranormal research. Otherwise, I’ll dismiss it.

For now, the Eden Camp to Ravensworth Castle line was enough to justify further research into the POW camp.

Important Connections to Ghosts and Hauntings

Next, I studied the history of Eden Camp. I was looking for connections that usually indicate a haunting: money, power struggles, drama, and tragedy.

Prison camp ghosts

Almost every prisoner of war camp seems to be haunted.

In the US, I can think of many, including  – on the east coast – Rutland Prison Camp (MA); Elmira Civil War Prison Camp (NY), where 25% of the 2963 prisoners died;  and Point Lookout (MD), also known as Camp Hoffman, which held over 20,000 prisoners. That was double its maximum capacity.

In the western US and Midwest, I’ve heard creepy stories from Camp Douglas (IL), Camp Chase (OH) where at least 2,000 prisoners died, and a very haunted prison camp in Nephi (UT). Currently, the Nephi site is a men’s state correctional facility.

And, in the deep South, Andersonville and Fort McAllister – both in Georgia – are notorious for their ghosts.

So, that increases the likelihood that something haunts Eden Camp Museum: It was a prison camp.

The History of Eden Camp

Eden Camp was one of about 456 known British prisoner of war (POW) camps. Of them, only 11 remain with over 80% of their structures still standing. That makes Eden Camp extraordinary, and it’s why the museum has won at least two awards for excellence.

At the end of 1945, over 355,000 prisoners of war were in the UK. There wasn’t a single successful prisoner escape from Britain itself. (A Canadian escape was featured in the 1957 movie, The One That Got Away.)

At first, Eden Camp – also known as Camp 83 – was the home of about 250 Italian POWs, and perhaps some Italian immigrants and those with Italian parents or grandparents.

They helped to build the camp’s huts, and were the main residents between 1942 and 1943.

Nazi German officers were sent north to Eden Camp.From 1944 to 1948, German POWs made up most of the thousand residents at Eden Camp.

When German prisoners were brought to the UK, they were categorized as “white, grey, or black.” The white ones were non-Nazis, the greys were those considered dubious, and hardened Nazis (such as officers) were coded as blacks.

The more dangerous Nazis were imprisoned further north than the whites and greys.

That’s why most German officers were sent to POW camps in the Lake District and North Yorkshire… including Eden Camp.

Many of those officers remained in UK prison camps until 1948 or later, until they were shipped to Germany for war crimes trials.

Eden Camp After World War Two

After the war, Eden Camp became a home for displaced persons, then an agricultural holiday camp and Ministry of Agriculture depot.

In the 1950s, Malton Minerals used it to dry & store grain, followed in the 1970s when individuals sublet the huts as workshops.

In 1985, Stanley Johnson bought the site, intending to use it for a crisps (potato chips) manufacturing plant.

And that’s where the story turns really interesting. 

A former Italian POW contacted Mr. Johnson. The Italian wanted to revisit the camp where he’d lived during World War II.

Why is that important…?

It’s very odd. And, it tells me that other POWs – alive or dead – may want to revisit Eden Camp, too.

If I were looking for a good reason for Eden Camp Museum to have ghosts, that one is compelling.

So, in March 1987, Stan Johnson opened the site as Eden Camp Modern History Museum, “to honour the courage, fortitude, and sacrifice of the people who served in all walks of life during the Second World War, 1939 – 1945.”

Eden Camp plaque, Malton, England
Memorial plaque at Eden Camp Museum, established 1987 /Photo © Christine Matthews (cc-by-sa/2.0)

The museum started as 10 huts. Then they restored six more, and it has expanded since then.  (The original camp had at least 33 huts.)

Visitors say you’ll need at least two or three hours to see all the exhibits… and that’s in daylight. If you’re investigating ghosts, especially after dark, plan a full overnight vigil, if the site opens to them. (Please, do not trespass and spoil it for the rest of us.)

More Reasons for Eden Camp Museum’s Ghosts

In two additional articles, I’ll explain many other reasons ghosts may haunt the Eden Camp site and nearby Malton.

One of the main reasons (besides potential ley line energy) is a direct, physical connection with an ancient Roman camp, and – possibly –  a large Roman community. One of the camp’s names was Derventio Brigantum, and residences may have expanded to the nearby Eden Camp area. (The Romans were there for at least four centuries.)

Also, on the central part of the Roman camp, Malton Castle (two built on the site, actually) had a turbulent history involving politics, plots, feuds, and tragedies.

So, Eden Camp is likely to be haunted… and the east and northeast sides of Malton may have lurking ghosts, too.

Where to Start Research at Eden Camp Museum

Since I haven’t seen the Most Haunted TV episodes about Eden Camp, I’d start with Hut 10, refurbished in 2002. It contains the world’s most comprehensive collection of POW artifacts.

If you believe in residual energy hauntings or haunted objects, Hut 10 seems certain to have some ghostly activity.

And then there are the other daily cues, churning up energy related to power struggles, drama, and tragedies of the war.

These quotes are from a 1994 Liverpool Echo article by Angela Candlin, “A weekend on the warpath!”

A weekend on the warpath! The Second World War as a tourist attraction oh, what a lovely idea…

No dusty history book can compete with the blood ‘n’ guts reality of Eden Camp…

This is as authentic as barbed wire, UXBs, and the smell of fear…

Shiver at the horrors of a U-boat attack and feel the goosepimples as a mother screams for help during the Blitz. The smell of burning, the thud of bombs lingers even inside the camp theatre hut with its “We’ll Meet Again” nostalgia.

I’m not sure I’ve ever read such a dramatic list of triggers likely to result in paranormal activity, ghosts, and… well, everything that happens at truly haunted sites.

Weekend on the Warpath - Liverpool Echo - 1994

Is Eden Camp Haunted?

Until I visit it, I can’t confirm that it has ghosts. However, at first glance, it has much to recommend it:

  • It seems to be on at least one ley line of powerfully haunted sites.
  • It was a prison camp, and – from past experience – many (perhaps most) former prison camps have ghosts.
  • Some past prisoners (living) have expressed a deep wish to revisit the site. Perhaps the dead do, too.
  • With Nazi German officers held at the camp, it was certainly the site of power struggles, one of my “top four” reasons to expect ghosts.
  • The museum includes steady “triggers” that ghost hunters use to encourage paranormal activity – sights and sounds, plus artifacts – related to the drama behind the hauntings. So, I’d expect poltergeist activity.
  • The area has connections to military conflicts, feuds, deliberate and destructive fires, and unmarked graves, including those of infants. (I’ll talk about those points in future articles.)

The more I research Malton and the area around Eden Camp Museum, the more weird history – and likely ghost stories – I find.

If I were closer to Malton, England, I’d visit Eden Camp today. Really, it sounds like a ghost hunter’s dream site.

If you’ve been there – or if you watch the Most Haunted Eden Camp episode – I hope you’ll share your thoughts in comments.

In my next article in this series, I’ll explain why Malton’s Roman history makes the area – including Eden Camp – even more interesting for paranormal research. [Link]

Other, related articles:

Eden Camp Ghosts – Research Resources

Eden Camp – https://www.edencamp.co.uk/

Eden Camp Museum – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eden_Camp_Museum

Most Haunted – Upcoming episodes, airing Friday evenings on Really

Most Haunted Experience – Meet Eden Camp’s ghosts with Most Haunted experts.

Prisoner of War Camps in the UK During World War Two – Transcript of a lecture by Colin Dean

Photos by Christine Matthews are copyright Christine Matthews (cc-by-sa/2.0)

 

Four Haunted Campgrounds… with No Escape?

As an outdoor enthusiast, I love haunted places in the wild. It’s one reason I especially enjoyed the book, Haunted Hikes of New Hampshire.

Of course, other parts of the US have haunted hiking trails and campgrounds. Now that the warmer weather is here, you may want to explore them.

The following video starts with an annoying ad. It’s worth sitting through it to get to their top 10 list of haunted campgrounds and parks in the US.

In the UK, my first choice for camping – and ghost hunting in the wild – might be Dartmoor. The Paranormal Database lists many ghostly hotspots around Dartmoor. And, if you’re not sure where to camp, this link takes you to camping information for Dartmoor. (Camping / Dartmoor)

(Of note, “As part of a Dartmoor walking expedition, it is acceptable to backpack camp for one or two nights in some areas of open moorland, well away from roads or settlements using a ‘no impact’ approach.” But be sure to read the rest of the related rules.)

In the US, summer is an ideal season for camping in cooler, northern states. In places like Florida, winter is a better choice.

Start with campgrounds that have verified ghost stories.

The following are a couple of them from an article, 4 Haunted Campgrounds with No Escape. (The full article is linked at the foot of this page.)

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If you knew there was a chance you may end up as a late night snack for long lost souls on a feeding frenzy, would you do it? Even knowing you couldn’t get away? All you need to do is pitch a tent. It’s that easy. But you have to know where…

Malakoff Diggins State Historic Site – Nevada County, Calif.

Nevada County is smothered with small ghost towns, but none as haunted as North Bloomfield which was preserved as part of this historic site.

Legend has it, a strict disciplinarian schoolteacher slaughtered a student and hung him from the schoolhouse rafters for answering too many questions incorrectly. It’s said to be the most haunted building in the deserted mining town.

Faces have been seen peering from windows inside of some of the preserved buildings. Some have even been captured by a camera.  If you really want to, you can spend the night with them. Pick a spot. Sleep tight.

Malakoff Diggins State Historic Site – Nevada County, Calif.

Big Moose Lake – Adirondacks, New York

The ghost of Grace Brown is said to haunt the area. Brown, unwed and pregnant in 1906, begged the father of the child, Chester Gillette, a well-known womanizer, to marry her. He initially refused and in one her love letters she wrote, “If I die I hope then you can be happy. I hope I can die. The doctor says I will, and then you can do just as you like.”

Gillette finally agreed to the marriage and the couple took a trip to Big Moose Lake to privately tie the knot. But Gillette had ulterior motives. He was accused of killing Brown with a tennis racket while they were in a rowboat in the middle of the lake. He then dumped her body in the water where it was later discovered. Gillette was arrested and two years later was executed.

In 1988 an employee at one of the lakes lodges, Rhonda Bousselot, felt a strange presence as she reached inside of a cabin door to turn on a light switch. Three other employees who were standing just outside as Bousselot exited the cabin said they saw a shadowy figure seemingly gliding very close to her.

Sometimes the ghost of Brown is seen in the lake drowning while at other times she is seen wandering the lake shore. It’s been reported she likes to turn off lights in cabins and some guests have suddenly found themselves sitting in a darkened room with no explanation.

There are plenty of campsites surrounding Big Moose Lake. Pick one right by the shoreline.

(… read the full article (linked below) for two more creepy places to camp)