Ghosts, History, Triggers, and Synergy

You probably know that I specialize in haunted places that others overlook, especially sites that are open to the public. I believe it’s important to put ghost research within everyone’s reach. The more data we have, the better we’ll understand what’s really going on at haunted sites.

But, I rarely talk about some of the more complex (and admittedly quirky) ways I identify sites likely to be haunted, and confirm that they’re probably haunted.

If you’re busy and prefer to listen to this article as a recording, here’s my 10-minute podcast.

Ghosts, History, Triggers, and Synergy

In this 10-minute recording, you can learn how to use history to confirm and increase ghostly activity at haunted locations. Fiona shares some of her best-kept secrets, with tips for putting them to use in your own investigations.  The related article – and helpful links – are at

History and ghost hunting

I’m revealing one of my “secret” techniques related to ghost hunting because an article mentioned renovation ghosts. While that’s a term I don’t use, the subject is important in both my personal research… and my professional work as a consultant for producers, etc.

So, what is this technique…?

In its simplest form, I’m using history (and other components) for synergy. “Synergy” is a word I’ll use often, so here’s its definition, from the Cambridge Dictionary:

Synergy: the combined power of a group of things that, when they are working together, is greater than the total power achieved by each working separately.

In other words, I identify multiple historical and geographical factors & influences that can contribute to hauntings… and then I put them to use.

(And no, I don’t mean “provoking,” although that is a somewhat crude version of what I’m describing.)

One reason I haven’t talked about using synergy in ghost hunting is.. well, it sounds utterly geeky.

But also – like most paranormal research – the success of this approach isn’t guaranteed, especially as a stand-alone method.

Perhaps most importantly, if synergy is handled badly, there can be consequences on many levels. They can include actual dangers that aren’t limited to what happens on-site.

But, when researchers understand synergy and use it in ghost hunting, the results can be spectacular. Literally.

History as a trigger

Today, many people talk about emotional triggers, and they’re part of the synergy I’m describing. Emotional triggers can range from inadvertently mentioning a sore subject, to outright bullying.

Here’s how author Martha Beck describes emotional triggers.

Emotional triggering is, at root, a survival response. Our brains create powerful associations between things that hurt us and whatever happened to be occurring when we got hurt.

That’s exactly what I’m describing: the interaction between historical references and ghosts, and how that manifests (sometimes literally) at haunted locations.

At its core, this technique is about history: the ghost’s personal history, and what churns up memories of intensely emotional moments in the ghost’s past.

Yes, this describes provoking, but – almost always – that’s a deliberate, very negative and forceful form of bullying. It can get a response. I believe it can also do deep damage to the spirit of the person who’s haunting the site.

Working with synergy, researchers have more and better options.

So, how does this work?

One of the first things to confirm at any location is: Is it really haunted? The best way to verify that is to do something that can magnify ghostly activity and manifestations.

Instead of taunting ghosts to evoke a reaction, we can use external and physical cues that invoke the ghost’s most vivid memories… and lead to a response we can detect, either on a personal level or with ghost hunting equipment, or both.

Those externals can include a wide range of factors, from archaeological research to reenactments to simple home renovations.

Let’s start with an everyday trigger: renovations.

When DIY gets scary

Ghosts - when DIY gets scaryI’ve witnessed this first-hand, in a 19th-century California home my husband & I renovated.

It was only mildly haunted when we moved in.

Then, we started opening walls and ceilings to replace the electrical wiring, and poltergeist activity began. It was noisy, day and night. Sometimes, objects were moved and even broken.

We knew two ghosts were involved, because we could hear his heavy footsteps and her sobbing.

When the ghosts started influencing my behavior and my husband’s, we moved, almost overnight. At the time, it seemed the only answer. (Today, I’d handle things differently.)

But, I’ve seen this same pattern repeated among private clients, and – of course – many people are familiar with the Amityville Horror story, which is an extreme and iconic example.

In most cases, if the ghostly activity is merely unsettling or annoying, the homeowner can ignore it. Within about two or three weeks of the conclusion of the renovations, the activity will diminish.

But, if you’re investigating ghosts and hear of a story like this, it’s a site to visit as quickly as you can, to document what’s going on. (Of course, do this discreetly, to protect the homeowners’ privacy and peace of mind.)

Why this works

In many cases, ghosts don’t like changes. They specifically don’t like changes to their homes. (As far as they’re concerned, the new homeowners are just interlopers.)

In other cases, they’re worried that something you’re doing will cut them off from the past they’re trying to return to. Or, you may reveal a long-held secret; they’ve remained here to be sure that secret is never revealed.

How to use this

Renovate an old home, or find someone who’s remodeling or renovating. Even better, talk with friends in the contracting, remodeling, or redecorating field. Ask them to tell you if one of their clients suddenly seems uneasy about the changes, and if that might be a ghost issue.


If you follow me on Twitter and have wondered why I regularly link to archaeology articles, especially in the UK, the answer is simple: When a dig uncovers something related to a noted ghost (royals like Henry VIII or Anne Boleyn), I receive anecdotal reports about that same ghost becoming active at other sites he or she was associated with.

That’s where synergy comes in. It’s not just the site experiencing physical changes (like an archaeological dig), but also related haunted sites, even hundreds of miles away.

So, if my UK & Irish followers see me link to a dig related to the Black Friars (such as the July/Aug 2019 digs in Ireland), they’re likely to make monk-related haunts a priority around that time, and shortly after it.

The dig in Ireland might well fuel ghostly energy at other former monasteries and monk-related sites. And anything haunted with the term “Blackfriars” in the name.

Why this works

Like renovations, archaeological digs churn up past history, dormant connections, ghosts’ memories, and – of course – the danger of a ghost’s secret being revealed.

How to use this

Stay current on important and relevant archaeological digs. Follow news from local universities with archaeology programs, and look for announcements about local digs, as well as digs with broad-scale connections, like the monk-related one I mentioned.

And that topic leads to a third kind of trigger, and related synergy. It starts with deliberately revitalizing ghostly energy… without provoking.

I’m talking about one of my favorite topics: historical reenactments.

Historical reenactments

historical reenactments and ghostsFor years, I’ve recommended costumed, historical reenactments. Anywhere near them, you’re likely to find ghosts. In fact, you may see apparitions and think they’re just people in costume.

Historian and paranormal researcher John Sabol has made use of this for his “ghost excavation methodology.” I’ve witnessed this at one of his performances in Canada, where he evoked ghosts haunting a theatre.

It was impressive.

While John draws heavily on his Hollywood acting career, and his innovative approach distinguishes what he does from reenactments, but the basic concept isn’t new: Researchers can use history and location to create a resonance with ghosts at haunted places.

Why this works

Ghosts, seeing people in familiar dress, or reenacting their own past, may feel as if they’re back in their own time again. That may be exactly what they’ve been waiting for, so they step out from the shadows and go about their normal routines from the past.

Or, perhaps they knows it’s a reenactment, and resent how the past is shown. Or, if the ghost is/was someone notable, they don’t like how the actor is portraying them.

How to use this

Search for “historical reenactments” or “living history events” in your area, and learn about local reenactment groups. (In the US, here’s a useful list: Top 29 Historical Reenactment Societies. Worldwide, Wikipedia has a short list, plus links.)

Join the fun, or be an observer, and watch for anomalies. (Tip: If you’re using ghost hunting equipment, be discreet. Some reenactors can be very uneasy about paranormal research.)

Of course, it’s not necessary to wait for a planned, costumed reenactment in your area. You can bring in reenactors, representing the ghosts or people who were part of the ghosts’ most intensely emotional experiences.

The most important thing is to find someone with a background in history… someone who brings authenticity to the role. If it’s just a bad parody, that’s likely to disappoint everyone.

For example, if you’re researching or filming at a haunted site related to Henry VIII, I can recommend Neil Bakewell. (He modestly describes himself as a storyteller.) He’s probably the UK’s best Henry VIII impersonator, as his historical research is impressive and – frankly – he looks the part.

That’s what you want: not just an actor who thinks he or she can play the part, but someone who’s immersed him- or herself in the life and history of the ghost.

In lieu of that, a historically accurate performance – such as one of Shakespeare’s plays, if your ghost might be a Henry, or Richard III – could be enough to attract and confirm ghostly energy.

After all, ghost hunters know that theaters are among the most reliably haunted locations, anywhere in the world.

Putting the pieces together

I’ll admit that this is just one piece of the puzzle. When I work as a consultant, especially for producers, I use history and resonance with other tools. They help me find haunted places and then confirm whether a site is haunted.

Some of those additional tools are speculative like ley lines and intuitive flares. Others are more predictive patterns of paranormal activity.

But, on its own, you can use historical references to create synergy and trigger ghostly activity that might otherwise remain dormant, or seem too subtle to notice.

And this can make a big difference in your investigation results.

Patterns, Predictions, and Why I’m a Paranormal Researcher

Late tonight (Monday, June 18/19), I’ll be on George Noory’s “Coast to Coast AM” radio show. So, knowing my knack for blurting things that aren’t quite what I’d planned to say, I’ve been working on videos to describe my work.

(I’m hoping the show goes well, but if I manage to speak before thinking, my newest videos are sort of preemptive damage control. LOL)

The following video explains why I love paranormal research, and – even after all these years – I’m still enthusiastic about my work. I’ve developed a very specific focus for my research, and an equally clear goal.

Of course, this work is an ongoing project, and – as it unfolds – it becomes more fascinating, every day. That’s what makes it fun.

If you’d like to hear me speak on George Noory’s show, here’s his site’s description of it. I’ll be on the second half of the show, starting around 3 AM, Eastern US time. The show will be recorded so you can listen to it later.

(I like how he describes me & my research.)

Fiona Broome on George Noory's "Coast to Coast AM" radio show.

Coast to Coast AM subscribers can hear the replay almost immediately.

In addition, Coast to Coast AM shows are available at YouTube, about three weeks after they initially aired.

Haunted History: The Slaughter House, Liverpool

history of the slaughter house, liverpoolIf you’re a ghost hunter interested in the history of the Slaughter House, here are notes from my off-site research.

(If you’re looking for Slaughter House ghost stories, see my related article, Most Haunted: The Slaughter House, Liverpool.)

The following history might connect to ghosts in and near Liverpool’s Slaughter House.

First, I researched Jane Ellison. She was a previous owner of the Slaughter House site. I’m not sure those notes are useful.

Then, I studied old maps — and business directories — looking for local clues. That historical information may be very helpful for future investigations at the Slaughter House.

Jane Ellison

Using Tom Slemen’s list of historical owners of the haunted Slaughter House site, I researched early owner Jane Ellison.

For some reason, Jane’s name seems to “light up” for me. (When I use that expression, it means the item seemed to hold my attention more than it should. That’s when I go looking for something odd to explain it.)

Jane Ellison #1

Here’s one interesting Jane Ellison, but I don’t know if she had any connection to the history of the Slaughter House.

This Jane Ellison was born about 7 March 1820 as a “female bastard” child of James Ellison, a laborer (from the nearby borough of Knowsley), and a woman whose name might be Margaret, but I can’t quite read it.

Here’s part of the court record:

court record Jane Ellison Liverpool

However, Ellison isn’t an unusual name in England.

This document does tell us that, in the early 1800s, at least one Liverpool-area Ellison caused some drama. He didn’t show up at court when charged as Jane’s father.

That’s a big red flag, if this Jane Ellison was connected with the history of the Slaughter House.

Also, in the 1766 directory, I found only one Ellison actually in Liverpool. (He was David Ellison, a watch maker on Ranelagh Street, not far from the Slaughter House site.)

So, maybe “Ellison” wasn’t a popular surname in the area, until much later.

Jane Ellison #2

Next, I found a burial record for “Jane, daughter of Jane Ellison,” who was buried 4 Oct 1819 in Liverpool.

The oddity there is that she’s just the “Jane, daughter of Jane Ellison,” without a father listed. Other entries on the same page list the mother and father of each deceased person.

Here’s the burial record:

Jane Ellison burial record 1819 Liverpool

Below, you can read the detail.

Burial record Jane Ellison Liverpool 1819

That record shows:

  • She lived on Dale Street. (It was just around the corner from Fenwick Street, where the Slaughter House is.)
  • She’s noted as a “spinster.”

So, there are two red flags connected with the name “Jane Ellison.” One was an illegitimate child, Jane Ellison, who was born in 1820.

The second (but lesser anomaly) was another Jane Ellison who appears to be a single parent, and – in 1819 – she buried a child named Jane Ellison.

In my research, I always note those kinds of anomalies. At least half the time, if they’re connected to a haunted site, their stories will be related to that site’s ghostly energy.

(Additional — but less unusual — Jane Ellison notes are at the foot of this article.)

Next, I looked at Liverpool maps and city directories. If I were investigating at the Slaughter House, I’d definitely study the maps in greater detail. I’m sure more clues are hidden in the history of the neighborhood.


If you’re researching the haunted Slaughter House’s history, here’s how the immediate area looked in 1766 Gore’s Liverpool Directory. (That directory is available, online.)

Slaughter House area Liverpool - 1766

Here’s a transparent overlay of the current Slaughter House site (courtesy Google Maps), on that 1766 map.

Overlay Google Maps and 1766 Liverpool

So, if you’re studying what was where in the late 18th century, the green arrow, on the map below, points to the current Slaughter House site.

I’m not sure what the “Dry Bn” was, or if that’s what the map says. But, I’d look at the history of the area where Fenwick Street (circled in red) intersected with Moore Street and — on the 1766 map — what’s indicated as Castle hill.

I’d also look at what was on Castle Street, in or close to the same building.

Fenwick Street and the Slaughter House 1766

In 1766, these were businesses on or near Fenwick Street:

1766 directory of businesses at or near the Slaughter House

“Peter Carson, dancing-master” caught my attention. From my previous research involving dancing-masters, he’s likely to have a colorful history. (But, to be fair, “dancing-master” didn’t always indicate something other than dancing lessons.)

Other directory notes

Surveying the area, I have an uneasy feeling about nearby Castle Street, where a “cabinetmaker and toyman” business was mentioned. Perhaps something there was connected to the Slaughter House’s ghost stories.

And, Thomas Banner was an innkeeper at the Golden Fleece on nearby Dale Street. It was a long street, so that may not be near the Slaughter House site. It simply caught my attention as I was studying the area. (Also on that street, an inn called the Golden Lion. Interesting juxtaposition of names, particularly if they were near one another.)

Note: Every “Golden Fleece” I’ve researched has had more ghost stories than average. One usually involves a man chasing a woman as she fled for her life. Some of those tales ended more happily than others.

If you find more useful history related to the Slaughter House ghosts, let me know in comments, below.

Slaughter House photo courtesy Rodhullandemu


Additional notes about jane ellison

I’m including the following notes about Jane Ellison of Liverpool, for dedicated researchers who may find them useful. At this point, these Jane Ellisons don’t necessarily connect to the history of the Slaughter House or its ghosts.

Jane Ellison #3

This is not unusual; I’m including it in case it’s pertinent, later.

A Jane Ellison, age 75, was buried on 24 Jan 1838. (Born around 1763.) She died in the workhouse.

Aside from living to a grand old age (for that era), and the sadness of dying in a workhouse on a cold January day, there’s nothing of note in this. But, she could have been the surviving Jane Ellison #2 (above).

Jane Ellison died 1838 Liverpool workhouse

Jane Ellison #4

I’m not sure this has anything to do with the Slaughter House, either, but I found the “Will of Jane Ellison, Spinster” in Liverpool. (Reading it requires a fee, and I’m not that interested… yet.)

Note: If she is related to history of the Slaughter House, I’d read that will. Wills and probate records sometimes include the oddest details that can shed light on paranormal activity.

Jane Ellison #5

Here’s the marriage record of another Jane Ellison. Nothing odd here, but it may be useful, later.

Marriage: 26 Oct 1871 St Michael in the Hamlet, Aigburth, Lancs. (in Liverpool)
Joseph Craven – 25 Mariner Bachelor of St James Place
Jane Ellison – 22 Spinster of Collins St
Groom’s Father: William Craven, Builder
Bride’s Father: John Ellison, Labourer
Witness: Thomas Craven; Mary Ann Ellison