- Religion and Philosophy
Mysterious & Haunted Artefacts
There are thousands of weird and haunted artefacts all over the world. In recent years there has also been a trend for selling similar items on the internet - especially Ebay. However, be warned. The vast majority of alleged ‘haunted’ items are found to be faked.
Having said this, there are still many items that seem to have strange properties and even paranormal forces attached to them.
Let’s take a look at some these objects.
Arthur's Seat - Edinburgh
The Mysterious Coffins of Arthur's Seat
It was just an ordinary day in June 1836 when a group of young boys played on the hill called Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh.
Unexpectedly, they found a cave on the north-eastern slope. Hidden under slates on a series of natural rock ledges, they found a total of seventeen miniature coffins. Boys being boys, they started to joke around throwing the miniature coffins at each other and so inevitably some were broken.
However, enough survived to be collected and preserved. When they were inspected they were described as having the following attributes:
- The coffins are made of pine wood.
- They were placed on rocky ledges in three tiers - two groups of eight coffins and one coffin on it's own above the others.
- Each coffin was 95mm in length and 23mm wide.
- Inside each was a figure. The figures were carved to a high degree of craftsmanship.
- Each figure was also unique, having individual sets of clothes made for each and boots painted on their feet.
They are now preserved and on display in the National Museum for Scotland. A number of theories have been put forward over the years, but in reality the reason for the coffins or who made them is still a mystery.
Some of the theories are as follows:
- On first being discovered 'The Scotsman' newspaper made a suggestion that perhaps the coffins and dolls were used in some kind of magical ritual. There is no evidence to suggest that the cave or the artefacts were ever used in any kind of ritual - at least not in the location they were found.
- Another theory was the artefacts were talismans used by sailors to protect against death. I can't imagine sailors climbing all the way up Arthur's Seat to hide some miniature coffins. In addition the nearest ports, Leith and River Forth, are some distance from the area. Another suggestion was that they were at first kept by sailors and then for some reason were removed to Arthur's Seat. This seems even less likely than the first.
- One of the most interesting theories - but like the rest certainly not proved - is that each of the coffins and their figures is a representation of the victims of Burke and Hare the body snatchers. Many believe that the number of coffins and the victim count are the same. However, there are disagreements about this and it doesn't take into account the likely, additional victims of Burke & Hare. You also have to try to figure out why the coffins and effigies were made? Who made them? Why did they get hidden in a secluded cave on Arthur's Seat? All these questions have never been answered and may never be.
- The theory that the coffins may be some form of curse has also been put forward. However, who the curse was aimed at and for what reason remains unknown.
Today the miniature coffins are preserved in glass, just as secretive as they were when first discovered over a century ago.
Haunted Painting - Bombardment of Algiers
Heale House - the home of Mrs Bell
Falkirk Scotland – Painting ‘The Bombardment of Algiers’.
The original work was by British Artist, Thomas Luny - 1820. The alleged haunted painting was a reproduction bought by a local man in Falkirk. He took it home and placed it on his sitting room wall.
It wasn't long before the owner and numerous other people began to feel something was not quite right. Faces of people that were unknown to the family appeared within the painting.
The witnesses claimed that the faces were quite distinct from the images within the artwork. Shortly after the 'spirit' faces, things took a more sinister turn. The owner and others claimed that demonic faces were taking the place of the human ones. No other paranormal activity was encountered within the home. The owner did have some psychic ability and started to see other faces in photographs and drawings on his sitting room wall. It was never explained what had caused the faces to appear or who or what they were.
The Ghost Who Wanted Her Portrait Back!
An Edwardian lady by the name of Mrs Bell was said to have haunted her former home Heale Hall. She was often seen by the present family sitting at the piano and other areas of the house. Interestingly this elegant spirit was also accompanied by the music of Chopin.
The spirit was always cloaked in a blue haze of light. The top half of her body could be seen very clearly, including facial features. But her legs were not usually visible.
However, it was a complete mystery to the family why this lady should be haunting her former home. It wasn’t until an unexpected encounter seemed to solve the issue.
A local owner of a junk shop handed back an old portrait that had previously belonged to the house. The portrait showed a graceful Edwardian lady sitting at a piano. The family recognised her features and dress immediately and now had a name for the lady - Mrs Bell. The family also carried out some research and found that sadly Mrs Bell had lost her home and possessions due to bankruptcy. She had also been forced to sell the portrait of herself.
The family were delighted to bring the portrait back into the house and placed it in a prominent area in the drawing room. Since the portrait has been returned the spirit of Mrs Bell seems to have vanished. The family have tried various attempts to contact her again - including a ouija board session - but all to no avail. Perhaps at last Mrs Bell is now at peace.
Moyses Hall Museum - Bury St. Edmunds, England
Drawing of William Corder before his trial
Haunted & Screaming Skulls
The number of stories involving haunted skulls would fill volumes. They have been reported to scream, talk, sing and laugh.
The following snippets will give you a flavour from the thousands of allegedly haunted skulls.
The Woman in Black. Ripley's Odditorium, Blackpool. England.
Ripley's Odditorium was famous for housing weird and wonderful artefacts. The skull in question was that of a young girl and had the reputation for being cursed.
It was given on loan to the Ripley museum in the early 1970s. It wasn't long before staff and visitors felt a sense of unease when in the vicinity of the skull. In addition, many people started to sense cold spots around the area where the item was placed.
Then witnesses started describing the figure of a young girl in a long black dress standing near the skull. It wasn’t long either before the owner himself started to feel nervous and uneasy.
The skull was promptly removed and paranormal activity is alleged to have stopped. One week later however, staff were horrified to hear that the owner had died suddenly.
This is a wonderful story and can be relied on to have brought the tourists flocking in. Was this then a story created for the summer season? Or does this account speak the truth about this sinister skull?
Screaming Skull. Moyse's Hall Museum, Bury St. Edmunds, England.
Moyse's hall was formerly the local prison for the area and housed many dangerous criminals.
One such person was William Corder, known as the 'Red Barn Murderer'. Corder was tried and found guilty for the murder of his lover, Maria Marten. After his execution his skull was stored in the prison. However, over many years staff had reported hearing screaming sounds and also seeing various ghost-like images around the area where the skull had been stored.
It was genuinely believed that this artefact was possessed by evil and people refused to go near it or even pass it.
The activity eventually became so bad that the skull was removed from the prison and buried in an unknown grave.
The Howling Skull - Chilton Cantelo Village, Higher Farm, Somerset, England.
The skull of Theophilu Brome - who died in 1670 - has been kept in the house at the farm for centuries at his own request before he died.
Having deserted the Royalist cause during the English Civil War, Theophilu was concerned that when he died, his body would be exhumed by Royalists and his head placed on a spike as a trophy for all to see. Therefore, he made his sister promise that his head would be taken away from his body and kept in the house so that it would not be stolen.
Over the centuries many different families have lived at the farm and most have experienced weird happenings in relation to the skull. Despite various attempts to remove it permanently from the house, witnesses claim that strange activity would start almost immediately.
Wailing and howling noises seem to be most prevalent. These noises are said to continue until the skull is replaced safely back in the house.
Higher Farm - Chilton Cantelo village
The Edinburgh Coffins Poll
What theory do you feel is the closest to why the coffins were made?
There's a strong case for objects having the ability to store the life essence of people who have been in contact with them. However, what is it that actually activates the experiences? Is it the object itself that releases the energy periodically? Does it require a trigger such as psychic or environmental conditions?
We may never find the answer to these questions, but paranormal research continues to try and unravel the mysteries of haunted and mysterious artefacts.
© 2012 Helen Murphy Howell