Posts Tagged ‘paranormal’

Showtime for Burke and Hare at Inveraray Jail

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

The life and death masks of famous 19th century serial killers, William Burke & William Hare, are now on show at Scotland’s spookiest prison Inveraray Jail, in time for Halloween weekend.   The two plaster head masks, along with a hangman’s noose, were discovered at the jail last year following the clear out of an old store room. However, how they got there and why still remains a mystery. The new addition to the visitor attraction and museum’s exhibition comes as Hollywood film Burke & Hare, starring Simon Pegg and Isla Fisher, hits UK cinemas on Friday 29th October.

The Life Mask and Death Mask of Burke

Burke & Hare are said to have murdered at least 16 people, possibly up to 30, in Scotland’s capital city of Edinburgh. The infamous criminal pair sold the corpses of their innocent victims to anatomy professor and lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, Dr Robert Knox, who used them for dissection and research. Their chilling crimes in the gothic city ended 181 years ago when Burke was found guilty and publicly executed. Hare escaped the hangman after giving evidence against his partner in crime.

The story of how the two heads and the hangman’s noose ended up at Inveraray Jail, in the west of Scotland, remains unexplained since neither Burke nor Hare were ever held at the prison.  A life mask is thought to have been made of Hare during the trial whilst Burke’s shaven head was cast following his public hanging. A handful of masks are known to exist with one in the USA, Swansea and St Andrews and Edinburgh Universities.

Inveraray Jail, Argyll

Unfortunately, we have never been able to find out how they came to be here at the jail. It may be due to the new ‘science’ called phrenology which was popular at that time. It was believed the shape and contours of a person’s head could dictate their personality and ‘experts’ held talks across the country using casts of the heads of infamous criminals to illustrate their point.

With the increased awareness of Burke & Hare generated from the release of the new movie this weekend, it is a very relevant time to finally put them on display.   We are looking forward to sharing the fascinating artefacts with our visitors this weekend and plan to keep them on display going forward.

What was that?!

With its gruesome history and haunting tales, Inveraray Jail is getting into the Halloween spirit this weekend. Two late night ghost hunts, which are now fully booked, are taking place on Saturday and Sunday night. Unexplained sightings and unusual activity recorded by visitors, staff and paranormal investigators suggest that the establishment is haunted. Meanwhile, the jail’s real life characters are ready to share with visitors how prisoners were treated in the 19th century. 6000 men, women and children were tried and served sentences in the jail between 1820 and 1889. The jail also features in popular TV programme Most Haunted Series 13, which was released on DVD last week.

Sponsored Lock-In for Pipe Band at Inveraray Jail

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

With a view to raising  funds for the band, 15 brave people from Inveraray & District’s Grade 1 band agreed to spend the night in the reputedly very haunted Inveraray Jail. T.V.s “Most Haunted” programme had visited the Jail previously and the experts had encountered a great deal of ghostly goings-on!

No trouble so far!

However the young pipers and drummers, led by Pipe Sergeant Dougie Campbell were hoping not to meet any of the ghostly inmates of the Jail. But to get them in the mood, they decided to watch, “Paranormal Activity” prior to entering!

At 11p.m. they went into the Jail and were shown round by Head Warder, Rob Irons who told them stories of ghostly happenings in the Jail and showed them to the cells where they would spend the night. The girls decided to bed down for the night in one cell with a view to “safety in numbers”.

The boys were more curious and went round the whole building hoping to meet some of the “old prisoners”. Some of them spent a while in the Court House and are convinced that they did indeed experience some strange happenings.

After a sleepless night the team emerged from the Jail at 8a.m., cold and tired but unscathed. They all made it through the night and so earned over £1,000 in sponsor money for band funds.

The band thanked Inveraray Jail for their “hospitality” and head warder, Rob Irons for looking after the band throughout the night.

The People of Scotland’s Favourite Jail: Past, Present and In Spirit

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

The people who occupied Inveraray Jail in the mid 19th century, the Governors, warders, matrons and prisoners, are all brought back to life today by costumed characters who roam this historic centre.  Basing their characters on factual prisoner records retained by the courthouse after its closure in 1889, the Jail is run by a team of managers, museum guides and actors who are all passionate about keeping the County Prison story alive.

The Warder

Rob as Warder

Rob as Warder

Andrew Boyd, one of the jails longest serving warders, is played today by staff member Rob Irons.  Visitors can identify him by his uniform which is, and was, an all black button neck tunic and peaked cap.  Rob, a former present day prison officer, likes to regularly lock up inmates (visitors)! After all, it is his job.  The warder assisted the Governor who was in total charge of the prison.  Boyd’s employment at the jail began in 1880.  He lived just over the wall behind the prison in one of the cottages but he was only allowed to go home for just two hours every evening.  The warder was expected to sleep in the prison every night and work long hours for very little pay.  Today, visitors can have good nosy round his room.

The Matron

Hanna as Matron

Hanna as Matron

The Jail had a matron, usually the Governor’s wife, whose duty it was to be responsible for the female prisoners.  A typical day in the life of the matron is performed by actors at the jail.  Her day-to-day routine involved the general up keep of the female prison block (known as the Old Prison) and, along with her husband, she was expected to teach the prisoners how to read and write.

Some Naughty Argyll Ladies

Some prisoner stories are too terrifying to bring back to life, so the characters at Inveraray Jail focus more on the light-hearted, comical stories. In particular, there were some very naughty ladies in Argyll during the 1800s!  Take 38 year old thief Helen Mackintosh from Campbeltown.  After stealing eight stockings, a petticoat and a series of clothing originally left outside to dry, Helen’s footprints in the snow were traced back to her home.

Sam as Elizabeth

Sam as Elizabeth

She refused to walk after she was arrested so they had to wheel her to the courthouse in a wheelbarrow!  Helen was jailed for three months whilst waiting to be transported to Australia.  Meanwhile, re-offender Elizabeth Henderson, portrayed by Sam Potts,  regularly features in today’s prison.  Elizabeth stole silverware from the Dunoon Hotel where she worked and sold it for alcohol (gin was her favourite!).

Museum Guide and actor Hanna Nixon explains her role at the jail: “Many times I play the role of female prisoner Eliza Thorpe from London who, according to our records, served a two month sentence in the jail in the late 1800s.  Eliza was locked up in the Old Prison which, at that time, was where all female prisoners were held.  Whilst on holiday in Oban, Eliza was accused of stealing from a hotel.  However, it is thought that the man she was with, who seems to have been a very bad influence, was the actual guilty party.”

She added: “What is so fascinating about Inveraray Jail is that after meeting one of the characters when exploring the prison and courthouse, visitors can go on to the exhibition and find out what happened in the end for the prisoner.  It’s a great reminder that these characters actually existed once and makes the experience very real.”

‘Criminal Lunatics’

Luckily, visitors won’t come across Peter Campbell in today’s prison.  On Thursday 11th January, 1844, according to a report at the time in the Glasgow Herald, Campbell assaulted his aunt and his mother.  Using a razor blade, the schoolmaster from Craignish, almost ‘severed the head of his aunt’ and ‘severely cut his mother about the face, neck and arms’ leaving her in a ‘dangerously ill’ state.  Campbell was judged ‘insane’ and received a life sentence on 19th April. After spending three years in Inveraray Jail, Campbell was finally moved in March 1847 to the new criminal lunatics section of the General Prison in Perth.

Thousands of male prisoners were tried and locked up at the jail, serving sentences for a range of crimes including assault, theft and murder.  Male prisoners occupied the twelve cells in the New Prison when the completed building was opened in 1848.

Mischievous Children

Many children, some as young as seven years old, served sentences at Inveraray Jail.  Juvenile crimes were normally for very minor offences.  13 year old Hector MacNeil from Lochgilphead got 30 days for stealing a turnip whist 11 year old James Muckle was sentenced to eight days for stealing apples.  For children without a home, committing a petty crime was usually a purposeful way to get a warm bed, food and clothing.  However, in 1852, ‘whipping’, for boys only, was introduced as a punishment and an alternative to sending juvenile offenders to prison.  Many children were often sent to reformatory school at the end of their prison sentence.

The Haunted Cells

Though the jail was closed down in 1889, there is a chance that many of its occupants never left.  Unexplained sightings and unusual activity recorded by visitors, staff and paranormal investigators suggest that Inveraray Jail is in fact haunted.  With its dark history and a haunting reputation, the jail was recently an obvious venue for TV programme Most Haunted in 2009.  Overnight Ghost Hunting events open to the public take place throughout the year at the jail.

Mark Turner - Ghost Events

Mark Turner

Mark Turner, Paranormal Investigator at Ghost Events said: “We have carried out investigations for several years now at Inveraray Jail.  We are starting to notice several patterns in our findings particularly with the noises and sounds we have recorded.  The jail certainly has a high level of paranormal activity in comparison with many other sites we have visited around Scotland.  This nation is blessed with such rich history so it’s the ideal place to search old buildings and historic landmarks for evidence of the afterlife amid the countless reports of paranormal activity.”

Back to www.inverarayjail.co.uk

Spirit presence ‘felt’ at historic Scots prison

Friday, December 18th, 2009
On the alert!

On the alert!

A psychic medium was said to have picked up a spiritual presence during a real-life ghost hunt at Argyll’s 19th century courthouse and prison, Inveraray Jail, at the weekend.

More than 6,000 men, women and children were tried and served sentences in the jail between 1820 and 1889.

Today, it is a popular visitor attraction and museum at the town of Inveraray, on Loch Fyne.

Paranormal investigations at the jail provide both novices and enthusiasts the opportunity to communicate with the traumatised spirits of old prisoners.

Saturday night’s event, hosted by Ghost Events Scotland, Scotland’s leading paranormal events company, was attended by 16 people.

The evening started with a walk around the location with a psychic mediums.

Mark Turner, paranormal investigator at Ghost Events Scotland, said: “Our psychic medium picked up the presence of a woman in the old prison block. It was thought she was a nasty character who disliked children.”

The event continued in the dark with interactive experiments which included filmed vigils, trigger object experiments, electronic voice phenomenon experiments and a variety of other ghost hunting gadgets.

Ending at 4am yesterday, participants looked at the recordings to see the results.

Mr Turner added: “One of our participants felt a sensation in his ribs as if he had been punched and claimed to have seen a green light moving through the air. A woman also felt that someone was touching her head.

“Our voice recordings, which are recorded below the human hearing frequency, picked up voices in response to questions asked by our participants. It is not clear what is exactly said but there are sounds of loud shouting. Also, in the new prison block, there were sounds of footsteps and tapping.”

The next paranormal investigation at the jail take place on February 20, May 8, September 11 and November 6 next year. Advance booking is essential. For further details www.inverarayjail.co.uk or call 01499 302 381.

How Paranormal Activity is really caught on Camera

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

The release of movie box office sensation Paranormal Activity in the UK last week will have brought many superstitious imaginations to life.  Sparking questions on whether ghosts exist, a Scottish landmark in the heart of Argyll offers the opportunity to see how ghosts are really caught on camera.

Ghost Hunting events open to the public take place throughout the year at Argyll’s 19th century courthouse and prison – Inveraray Jail.   6000 men, women and children were tried and served sentences in the jail between 1820 and 1889. Today, it is a popular visitor attraction and museum. Unexplained sightings and unusual activity recorded by visitors, staff and paranormal investigators suggest that the establishment is haunted.  With a history of depression, torture, death and damnation and a haunting reputation, the jail was recently an obvious venue for TV programme Most Haunted earlier this year.

Arriving at 10pm at the eerie jail, just off the banks of the misty Loch Fyne, brave event goers are greeted by Ghost Events Scotland, Scotland’s leading paranormal events company.  The opportunity to communicate with the traumatised spirits of old prisoners – without the gimmicks – begins.

The Ghost Hunting nights start with a walk around the location with one of Ghost Events Scotland’s Psychic Mediums in search for spiritual presences. The lights go out and the event continues in the dark with interactive experiments which include filmed vigils, trigger object experiments, Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) experiments and a variety of other ghost hunting gadgets.  Ending at 4am, participants look back at the recordings to see the results.

On the Look out for Paranormal Activity

On the Look out for Paranormal Activity

Mark Turner, Paranormal Investigator at Ghost Events said: “We have carried out investigations for several years now at Inveraray Jail.  We are starting to notice several patterns in our findings particularly with the noises and sounds we have recorded.  The jail certainly has a high level of paranormal activity in comparison with many other sites we have visited around Scotland.  This nation is blessed with such rich history so it’s the ideal place to search old buildings and historic landmarks for evidence of the afterlife amid the countless reports of paranormal activity.”

Most of our staff at Inveraray Jail have their own stories on ghostly sightings and unexplained activity around the jail and many visitors share with us their stories and pictures, from a feeling they got in a certain room to an unexplained object in their photograph.  Cell 10 is the one to watch!

For further details or to book event tickets please visit www.inverarayjail.co.uk or www.ghostevents.co.uk

Is Inveraray Jail Haunted?

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Is this a Ghost?

Is this a Ghost?

A snapshot taken by a visitor to Inveraray Jail in Argyll has fuelled debate over whether the almost 200-year-old year old court house and prison is haunted.

The jail, which is recognized as one of the spookiest places in Scotland, is a popular destination for paranormal investigators, including the team for tv’s Most Haunted, who spent a night at the jail earlier this month.

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A booming interest in death is breathing new life into old haunts.

Friday, July 31st, 2009
Ghostly experiences

Ghostly experiences

A booming interest in death is breathing new life into old haunts.
The search for ghosts and all things paranormal has created a multi-billion pound industry with more than 60 per cent of people admitting they believe in the spirit world.

Where once hotels, visitor attractions and retailers would never admit to having a ghost or anything supernatural they are now queuing up to promote life after death experiences with charities, amateur ghost hunting groups and organised businesses all joining in.

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