Monday, 26 May 2008

Ghost caught on camera at Chirk Castle?

Following on from the piece about this blog in the 'Evening Leader' newspaper, the publication has carried a front page article about a photograph of an alleged ghost taken at Chirk Castle, near Wrexham. This well-preserved Norman castle is now in the care of the National Trust.

Grant Scott, an amateur photographer from Farndon in Cheshire, noticed the transparent image of a woman on one of the photos he took of the castle a couple of weekends ago. A spokeswoman for the castle suggests that the image is of a regular visitor and that she appears to be queuing for the disabled toilet. But Mr Scott is intrigued not only be the fact her image is far from solid (when compared to the man standing a few feet to her right) and that she appears to be wearing clothes of an antiquated fashion. Also, he didn't notice anyone standing there when he took the snap.

Mr Scott was experimenting with long exposures, however, and it might be possible that the woman moved quickly into frame, stood for a split second - long enough to partly register - before moving quickly out of frame. She appears to looking in precisely the same direction as the man nearby, which implies that she is a real person. One thing I'm uncertain about is why the photo is in black-and-white when it was taken on a digital camera. My digital camera can only take photos in colour - after all, there's no black-and-white film involved - but maybe there's are monochrome settings on more sophisticated cameras than my own.

Make your own mind up by visiting:

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

In the news

My last Haunted Wales blog intimating that Wrexham may be the most haunted town in Wales was picked up by NWN Media journalist Rob Bellis, who, with colleague Joanne Shone, turned it into a double page spread in the 'Evening Leader' on May 15. You can see an extract of it here.

Rob found the blog through his Google Alerts setting, which immediately highlighted the key word 'Wrexham'. Very decent of them to create so much from so little! The article was a handy plug for the new and improved version of my website Uncanny UK, which has moved to a new home at

This new version of the site is fully content managed, which means there should be no excuse for me not updating the site with at least one new article on a weekly basis. It's on a much better server, too.

Recent posts include a piece in the Ghosts section on Paul Devereux's book 'Spirit Roads' (of which more in a future blog) and a 'More Uncanny' article on the weirdest of many weird phenomena encountered at the infamous Borley Rectory on the Essex/Suffolk border. You'll have to register to read the latter feature, but that's just a case of typing in your email and getting a password in return.

So, if you haven't already done so, please visit and let me know what you think.

Monday, 5 May 2008

The scent of time

The latest article on is about ghostly smells. These are quite common phenomena, although not as common as I would expect considering how evocative the sense of smell is.

A recent blog tells the story of a female apparition seen in Flintshire: she appeared near the turning to a medieval farmhouse, Brithdir Mawr, and she may possibly be the same ghost of a woman reportedly seen in one of the bedrooms there. When I visited Brithdir Mawr when researching my book 'Haunted Clwyd', I spoke to the then owner, a Jane Mould, who told me that the most prevalent spook was the unmistakable smell of cooking stew.

'It's wonderful, very savoury,' Jane told me. 'It makes you hungry just to smell it! I often come across it in the passageway.'

Considering the house dates back to the 14th century, this could be somebody's dinner that was cooked one day six hundred years ago.

A more sinister aroma, though equally pleasant to the uninitiated, was the smell of thyme emanating from some old cottages near Llanasa, in the north of the county. Elias Owen, in his 'Welsh Folklore' of 1896, reports this phenomenon, stating that no thyme then grew there, but that many years ago there had been a bed of thyme, under which had been laid the bodies of two murdered children. The ghostly aroma was a supernatural reminder of this horrible deed.

Makes you wonder about that savoury stew - perhaps it was poisoned!

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Weird Wrexham

Wrexham may well be the most haunted town in Wales; certainly in North Wales. Every year I learn of new ghostly experiences here. Of course, it's a big, busy place which spreads out into many satellite towns and villages, so not only does it have a sizeable population, it's had a large former population, too (if you see my point!)

Recently I heard that the swimming baths may be haunted - that deserves some further investigation. However, a correspondent to my website has drawn my attention to several other allegedly haunted sites in the town. He works in a job that brings him into contact with lots of townspeople and hears of personal encounters that way. That nature of his work is such that he has asked that he remains anonymous.

The old 'Groves' school is one Wrexham location he has identified. He writes: 'I spoke to a young chap the other day who works as a security guard for a reputable company and he said he worked on duty at the Groves not long back, and during the early hours he was terrified by the sound of furniture moving around on the floor above his guard post. The building is alarmed and no one apparently in the building. Some of my colleagues have spoken to the cleaners at the Groves site and they confirmed they see ‘things’ there.'

My Wrexham correspondent has also had a couple of personal experiences with the supernatural, the first at Wrexham Training on Ruabon Road and the second at Trinity House on Egerton Street by the former ‘Thirsty Scholar’ pub.

He tells me: 'I was studying a part-time admin course at Wrexham Training about six years ago when I personally experienced the paranormal activity at that location. It was very lively to say the least. Staff and students alike were seeing and experiencing - often quite unpleasant - things. I maintained contact with some staff a little while after I completed my course, and things were still occuring there.

'In relation to Trinity House, I was working on a Mental Health Help Line in the evenings and weekends. Over time, I saw apparitions and heard the usual doors banging, and the lights on several occasions had a life of their own. When I left working there, I mentioned it to management, who then told me they too experienced seeing apparitions, doors banging, etc.'

This interesting chap has been good enough to offer further details, so I shall certainly take him up on that - keep watching this space!

Thursday, 3 April 2008

The ghost of Brithdir Mawr

In my 1992 book 'Haunted Clwyd' (ISBN: 0-86381-218-X), I described the fascinating Brithdir Mawr, a house nestling on the lower slopes of Moel Fammau, near the hamlet of Tafarn-y-Gelyn, in Flintshire. This wonderful old place has hardly changed since the 16th century, as you can see from the picture.

The then owner, Jane Mould, told me about several ghosts seen in or near the house, including that of a femal figure she believed to date from the Middle Ages. Recently, Liz Ledsham, of Mold, told me she saw a ghost near the turning for Brithdir Mawr. She wonders whether it was the same ghost, with a wider 'circle of activity' than previously realised. Liz was on her way back from a night out in 1994. She was sitting in the front seat of a taxi; it was about 2am.

Liz told me: 'We were driving along the Loggerheads Road towards Cilcain and we passed a property called Llais Llyn Lliw, which is located by the telephone box just before the turning for Brithdir Mawr. As we drove by I saw this figure of a lady with long hair in a light grey, flowing gown, on the left-hand grass verge; she was very distinctive. As we approached the figure, I made a comment to my friend and she laughed, saying I had had too much to drink, but then the ghostly figure just passed inf ront of the taxi and we drove straight through her.

'I said that I had just seen a weird thing and commented to the taxi driver that we had just driven through a ghost. At that moment the taxi driver slammed on the brakes and asked if I had seen it too as he couldn't believe his eyes, and he described the exact same thing which I had seen. He appeared to be shocked and was in a cold sweat. A couple of weeks later we had the same taxi driver and he said that he had not driven down the Loggerheads Road at night since the sighting as it had frightenend him so much.

'I thought nothing much of the sighting until I saw the story about the ghost in your book and thought it was too much of a coincidence to be nothing.'

Monday, 4 February 2008

Hairy and scary

The latest article in the 'Weird Creatures' section of Uncanny UK is about Woodwoses: wild, hairy people who feature in medieval myth. Some think they may be a race memory of pre-Homo sapiens homonids still to be found living in deep, remote forests when prehistoric man first began his intensive cultivation of the British Isles.

Apparitions of hairy, half-humans are occasionally reported to this day. In the Uncanny UK article I refer to such a case reported from North Wales a few years ago but this will have to wait until I've interviewed the witnesses and made sure they are happy for me to quote them. In the meantime, though, here is an interesting little story from Elias Owen's 'Welsh Folklore' of 1896 that may have some bearing on the phenomenon:

'Richard Roberts, Coederaill, Bylchau, when a young man, worked in Flintshire, and instead of going to a place of worship on Sunday he got into the habit of wandering about the fields on that day. One fine autumn Sunday he determined to go a-nutting. He came to a wood where nuts were plentiful, and in a short time he filled his pockets with nuts but perceiving a bush loaded with nuts, he put out his hand to draw the branch to him, when he observed a hairy hand stretching towards the same branch. As soon as he saw the hand he was terribly frightened, and without turning round to see anything further of it, he took to his heels, and never afterwards did he venture to go a-nutting on Sunday' (p. 152).

Mr Roberts was convinced that the Devil had come to him for not attending church (there are many tales of apparitions appearing to frighten 'Sabbath-breakers' into mending their ways) but his rector tried to convince him 'that a monkey was in the bush'.

Perhaps it was a 'manimal', or the spectral appearance of one. Or perhaps it was just some unfortunate, homeless individual living wild - the origin, I suspect of many other accounts, and accounts of werewolves, too.

To read more about Wild Men of the Woods, visit:

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Haunted Anglesey

The latest true ghost story on Uncanny UK has been taken from the book 'Haunted Anglesey' by Bunty Austin. The weird encounter described actually took place in Scotland, not Wales, but was told to Bunty by an Anglesey resident.

It's ironic that in my 'Haunted Wales' book (which appears to be currently unavailable, much to my annoyance), I state that ghost stories from this ancient and magical isle are remarkably thin on the ground. Well, that remains true for the pre-War stories on record, anyway. But Bunty, who has lived on Anglesey for many, many years, has succeeded in gathering a considerable collection of superb first-hand accounts of ghosts from Ynys Mon,as well as some historical sightings. 'Haunted Anglesey' is the sort of book we should have for every county in Wales - indeed the whole of the UK - a volume of previously unfamilar stories collected over many years from the witnesses themselves.

As far as current hauntings are concerned, Anglesey appears to be a very scary place indeed! When I was writing my 'Wales of the Unexpected' column in the 'Daily Post', most of the first-hand accounts of ghosts I received came from readers came in Anglesey. These are now gathered together in the book 'Wales of the Unexpected' - check out the strangling horror of Lofft Pinc!

'Haunted Anglesey' by Bunty Austin is published by Gwasg Carreg Gwalch (ISBN 0-86381-883-8). 'Wales of the Unexpected' by Richard Holland is also published by Gwasg Carreg Gwalch (ISBN 1-84527-008-8)

For more accounts of ghosts from around Britain, visit