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When sceptic Dr Richard Wiseman decided to test the theories to see if edinburgh castle was indeed haunted or not, his conclusion of his experiment was that it was very intriguing.

Over the years Edinbrough castle has seen its fair share of death, torment, executions, battles over the years so with such a tragic history it is bound to have its ghostly tales.

Upon arriving I didn’t really delve into it’s haunted history, I wanted to have a feel for the place before I looked up what is meant to be lurking here. However, I did manage to speak to one of the castles workers Colin, who has worked at the castle for more than 30 years now. His general duties include securing the castles grounds during the day and night at times, he went on to tell me just some of his ghostly Encounters here.

Colin stated that during an function in the main hall one night, there had been a report of someone wandering around the function who wasnt meant to be there. He reported he went up to inspect who the intruder may be and he and several others seen a women wondering the hall with no feet, all you could see of her was from her knees up and when spoken to by Colin, she simply disappeared. He and other workers are not sure who this women was or how she has came to be here but this hasn’t been the only sighting of her, other workers have seen her too and have reported exactly the same thing. Colin explained to me he believed her to be a ghost and that he had later found out that the hall floor had been heightened in recent years and at one point the floor would have been level where her feet should have been. He also stated to us, that in this area, some time after, a heavy duty door slammed shut on its own accord. He stated, there was no draft and no way a solid door like it is could have slammed the way it did naturally by wind etc, he believes something or someone must have been the driving force behind it,

He also stated that one night while walking around doing his nightly checks of the castle he spotted a man in the distance down one of the alleyways that lead off towards where the prison part of the castle is. He stated he shouted to the gentleman and he turned around and then quickly disappeared. Colin stated that this gentleman was dressed in very old style clothing and with what he was wearing remembled a jacobites clothing.

Main Hauntings

Underneath the city of Edinburgh there is a set of tunnels that run directly under Edinburgh castle and the royal mile. These was first discovered hundreds of years ago, a Scottish piper was sent down to explore the underground world. Commanded to play his pipes so that those above ground could keep track of his progress, the piper vanished. A rescue party found no traces of the piper. The sound of the piper playing his music can still be heard as he walks endlessly beneath the castle.

Another ghostly apparition seen is the headless drummer, first spotted before Oliver Cromwell’s attack on the castle in 1650, only appears when the castle is under threat. Not seen for hundreds of years, the drummer is all but consigned to the past. Another nameless soul is a phantom dog, seen and heard on occasion in the dog’s cemetery on the castle grounds.

Within the castle prison, visitors have felt a eerie presence and feelings of being touched.

A Sceptics Investigation into the Castle

Dr. Richard Wiseman, a psychologist from Hertfordshire University in southeast England, enlisted the help of 240 volunteers to explore the castle. He had chosen visitors from around the world, the volunteers were led in groups of 10 through the creepy, damp cellars, chambers and vaults. Wiseman’s team came prepared with an array of high-tech equipment.

Each of the volunteers was carefully screened. Only those who knew nothing about Edinburgh’s legendary hauntings were allowed to participate, yet by the end of the experiment, nearly half reported phenomena that they could not explain.

Wiseman tried to be as scientific as possible about the study. The volunteers were not told which particular cells or vaults had previous claims of strange activity. They were taken to locations with a reputation for being haunted as well as “red herring” vaults that had no history of activity at all. Yet the highest number of paranormal experiences by the volunteers were reported to take place in the very areas that did have the haunted reputations.

Reported experiences included:

  • sudden drops in temperature
  • seeing shadowy figures
  • a feeling of being watched
  • one person reported a burning sensation on the arm
  • an unseen presence touching the face
  • the feeling of something tugging at clothes

One reported sighting was of a specter in a leather apron — a ghost that has been seen before at the same location. Wiseman, admitted his surprise at the results. “The events that have been taking place over the last 10 days are much more extreme than we expected,” he said.

Many of the experiences could be chalked up to common psychological reactions to the unnerving environment. But perhaps not all. “I must stress that these are only initial results,” said Wiseman, who admits to being afraid of the dark, “but already they are looking quite interesting.”

What Wiseman found most interesting is the fact that most of the volunteers’ experiences took place in the very rooms that had the reputations for being haunted, even though they had no knowledge of that. The question is: Why? “It could be something quite trivial such as being damper or colder, and we are taking physical measurements to gauge air temperature, air movement, and magnetic fields,” Wiseman said.

Even though Wiseman came away still a skeptic, the results of the experiment interested him and may have made him about more open minded on the paranormal. It would be interesting to see more sicentific skeptics undertaking these kind of experiments to see if something can be established to form a better kind of investigation, if not to convince people that life may indeed exist but to set a standard on maybe how investigations should be ran to be taken more seriously in the field of science.

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