Icy drafts, strange sensations and things that go bump in the night. Inveraray Jail has a reputation as one of Scotland’s most spooky locations, with eerie sights and sounds appearing for visitors, staff and ghost hunters alike. But is it really haunted? One of the UK’s top paranormal investigators Mark Turner of Ghost Events certainly thinks it’s worth investigation. That’s why he’s bringing his team of experts to the jail on Saturday, 17 November for a ghost-hunting event. They’ll be joined by a group of enthusiasts who hope to help in the search for supernatural evidence.
The team’s already carried out a number of investigations at the jail and it’s one of their favourite venues in which to work. As well as being a wonderfully atmospheric old building, the jail has a rich paranormal history, as Mark explains. ‘There have been many reported ghost sightings and a long list of unexplained experiences, and our past investigations have shown a high level of activity compared to many of the other sites we’ve visited.’
Over the years, Mark and his team have noticed certain patterns emerging at the jail, particularly with the noises and sounds they’ve recorded. ‘Each visit gives us another piece of the puzzle and helps us get nearer to some answers,’ he says. ‘Specifically – why is the jail so haunted?’
One theory goes that although the jail was closed down in 1889, there’s a chance that many of its occupants never left. Perhaps those that died there remain trapped. On top of this, the jail had a dark history, with torture, misery and violence part of its story. Mark and his team feel this most strongly in the old jail, where conditions for the prisoners were pretty atrocious. ‘We consistently pick up a bad atmosphere in the old part of the building,’ he explains. ‘It seems to be dominated by one negative soul. A number of people have also felt extremely unwell on entering this area.’
The team use a combination of traditional and modern methods to gather evidence. The evening starts with a psychic medium who channels information from the spirit realm. Following this, the lights are turned out and experiments, such as filmed vigils, are carried out throughout the night using ghost-hunting gadgets. The investigation ends at 4am. Mark’s keen to point out that everyone’s involved in the investigation, not just the professional team. ‘It’s a very interactive event,’ he says. ‘Participants learn about the equipment and get involved in a very hands-on way.’
Participants’ experiences are also an important part of the investigation, helping to build up a body of evidence. In past ghost hunts at the jail people have been scratched, stroked and pushed, figures have been witnessed, footsteps heard and a number of people have reported smelling tobacco. Sometimes the temperature can suddenly drop. Mark says that it can be quite an unsettling experience, especially for first-timers. ‘The character of the place changes when we turn the lights out and it can be a bit frightening, but we fully brief people and make them aware that they can get out at any time.’
It’s not all scary though. In fact, Mark reckons a playful spirit resides in the new prison. ‘One evening we set up a motion sensor on the top floor. We watched it for about two hours but nothing was happening, so we all trooped downstairs for a cup of tea. Just as we got to the very bottom step, the motion sensor went off.’
If you fancy joining Mark and his team for a night of paranormal investigation, there are still places available on the ghost-hunting event on Saturday, 17 November 2012 (booking essential). Who knows? You might even have a close encounter with one of our past inmates.