I am often asked how I became interested in the paranormal, and how I became involved in psychical research. I find this quite difficult to answer. Possibly this is because I am not entirely happy with the term paranormal in the first place. In my opinion a lot of the phenomena reported, and termed paranormal, may well be fairly rare events, which do not fit in with a rationalist world-view. Science is never happy with rare events that are not repeatable within its paradigms. Scientists like repeatable experiments, which can be carried out by different experimenters; producing similar results time and time again. Tell that to the ghost who appears infrequently to its own pattern or timing! I still feel that even ghostly appearances may well fit in with natural laws with which we are not yet fully acquainted. Perhaps one day we will find out how they occur, and then the word paranormal will be redundant. Perhaps as a psychical researcher, I will also be redundant. After all if someone living in the 16th.century had been told that we could sit in our living-room and watch events 'live' from the other end of the world; for instance a Test Match from Australia, or chat to someone hundreds of miles away on the phone, they would have thought we were involved in Witchcraft; and we all know what the penalty for anyone involved in that sort of thing would be! We do not know 'how ghosts work', nor do we know how the poltergeist summons up the tremendous energy required to throw heavy furniture around, so there is a lot of work to be done, and I have always wanted to be involved in such research.

When did I first become interested in the first place? Possibly when I began to realise that not all children could see and hear things the way I did. I was brought up in Edinburgh until the end of the war. I had frequent visits to the country and spent most summer holidays with family friends at their poultry and pony farm. I soon learned to ride the half-wild ponies, when I could catch one, and many a tumble I had. I didn't break any bones, but it was amazing how adept the ponies were at finding appropriate landing sites for me...barbed wire fences, nettle-beds and even the odd thistle patch. Still, I learnt a skill that although it wasn't to Olympic standard, taught me to stay firmly on the pony's back, with or without a saddle.

I loved animals of all kinds; except geese. An early attempt to feed the gander resulted in a badly bitten calf for me; so no more bread for the geese, and a resolve to give geese a wide berth in future.

Although I was an only child, I had what is known as an imaginary family, until I was about eight; an older brother and a younger sister who were with me all the time. It did not seem to bother me that no-one else could see them. I was evidently thought to be a child with a vivid imagination by the adults. The extended family gradually faded away, like 'Puff The Magic Dragon' as I became immersed in the rough and tumble of school.

I soon became aware that other children did not understand animals in the way that I did. I didn't need language to understand their needs and their fears. I was judged to be just a bit too sensitive, when I cried for hours, after meeting a boy leading an old pony along our road. He said quite bluntly that he was taking it to the slaughter-house. I did not fully understand what he meant.. I was only seven, but the pony evidently did. Its miserable, forlorn look touched me to the quick. Mum gently explained that it possibly was too old to work and that we all had to die sometime, but that didn't help much. I still find it difficult to see animals suffering, and feel they often can communicate their problems to me. I have had a varied collection of creatures needing good homes over the years, and the house and garden have often reached saturation point.

I had many strange experiences too: One day when I was about nine, I was waiting at the corner of our road, waiting for the bus to take me to school. It was about 8.30 on a dark, wet winter's morning. We used to wait under the pillars at the front door of the corner house in Palmerston Place if it was wet. This area still had the old fashioned 'causey blocks' and in fact it still has. The houses are Regency and Georgian in that area of Edinburgh New Town. There were very elegant street lamps, which although they were designed for gas, were of course unlit during the war. Suddenly everything went very still and the scene changed slightly. I was aware of a horse-drawn coach and other horse-drawn vehicles was absolutely silent, and I suddenly had a deep conviction that I was back in another time; a time with which I was very familiar. I had lived in that area in that time, I am sure. Then the scene changed back to the Edinburgh street that I knew in 1943. The number 13 bus arrived and I was off to school as usual; the momentary strange experience temporarily forgotten as I greeted school friends on the bus.

It is very difficult to convey, what is a subjective experience, to others, but I can still see that changed scene and the feeling of belonging to two eras, or even possibly more. I learned a big new word a few years later.. reincarnation. I felt then, as I do now, that I have lived many lives, and I likely have many more to come. I know that many more people throughout the world have similar experiences, and I will be talking about this subject later.

When the war was at last over, we moved from Edinburgh to a village in East Lothian. The freedom of mile after mile of sandy beaches, rocks, farmland and woods, was my idea of Heaven. I wandered along the beach for miles, picking up shells and rocks. I sat on the rocks for hours watching sea-birds and seals. I poked around in rock-pools, fascinated by the plant and animals and fish that lived there. I grew to love the great estuary of the river Forth in all its moods. Great ships such as the Vanguard, with King George VI on board sailed up to Rosyth. We watched its graceful progress through field glasses. I saw tankers sailing up to Grangemouth oil refinery and timber boats from Scandinavia making for Leith. It was quite a sight, when on occasions a storm was raging out in the ferocious North Sea. Many ships would be at anchor, riding out the storm in the estuary, and of course along with other local children, I counted them and borrowed binoculars from home to see if we could spot the sailors on board.

I was always happy among boats, and on occasions even had trips on fishing boats around some of the islands in the Forth. The day we went up the dangerous steep side of the Bass Rock was memorable. There is a railing which goes right over the top, so that the keepers of the lighthouse, which we were shown round, could relatively safely man the foghorn and light, without being blown into the ferocious waves below. At that time, about 1951, the keepers used large holes in the volcanic rock as chicken coops. These had iron grilles over them I felt something very strange and frightening around them. No it wasn't the cooped up hens, who couldn't have their freedom because of the height of the rock and the several hundred feet to the waves below. We learned from the keepers, that during the Napoleonic Wars, French prisoners of war were incarcerated in those terrible holes in the rock. I later learnt that the Bass earlier had also been a prison for Covenanters. How cold, wet and miserable they must have been. How many of them must have died in that wretched place?

I had some friends who lived at North Berwick and I used to cycle the eight miles along the coast to visit them. We used to spend a lot of time on the beach; sometimes horse riding, but we also were attracted to a collection of old buildings known locally as the Lodge. At that time The Lodge was in a terrible state of repair, although later it was turned into luxury flats by The National Trust for Scotland. An old sea captain lived in the lower rooms at the front of the old building. At least he was dressed as an old seaman, with a sea captain's hat and a bit of gold braid here and there. He used to come out and shout at us from time to time, and usually we ran off. There is said to be a traditional secret passage, which was reputed to link the ruined abbey to the harbour, via the Lodge. As children, we had been warned off by the locals from going anywhere near it. Of course it drew us like a magnet, and of course we had all read Enid Blyton's Famous Five books and were well-versed in the adventure lore, and smugglers' ways in particular.

One day we were as usual mucking about near the entry to the passage-way at the Lodge. The old Sea Captain came out and shouted at us as usual, and I must have been a bit slower to run off than the other kids. Suddenly it got chilly as though a cloud had temporarily hidden the sun, and I looked up to see a grey misty shape gliding by, which looked like a lady in a long grey dress. I later learned about the Grey Lady who has been seen from time to time near the passageway and the Lodge grounds; which are now a park.

Many years later, as I said before, The National Trust for Scotland renovated the buildings and turned them into several luxury flats, without changing the exterior too much. The passage-way entrance was actually where the dustbins etc were kept. My parents moved into one of the upper floor flats. One day in 1970 or 1971, John, my husband and I were visiting them with our children. I was in Mum's bedroom, sitting on her bed chatting to her, when something grey and misty passed the window. I am sure it was the same apparition I had seen many years before. Mum said I had likely seen a gull, but I was used to the behaviour of gulls and other sea birds... and it wasn't like a gull at all. It moved too slowly for a gull, but even more convincing to me was that cold, alert feeling I get when something strange is about. This is not really fear, more a strange heightened awareness.

When I was a student, my parents moved to another house in the same village. This house had been owned by a very old lady called Margaret; she was 93 when she died in the house. My friends and I had often helped to round up her lively little dog, called Nigger. He was inclined to escape from time to time and wander down to the beach on his own. Margaret was very tall, even in old age, and always wore ridiculous high-heeled shoes, on which she wobbled after her escaping dog. She was always very highly made-up, and wore large flowery hats. When we took over the house, the upstairs window-sills were littered with wee bottles and jars of cheap make-up, similar to those available in Woolworths at the time. There were stories that she had been on the stage at some time, but we never really found out. Our efforts to round up the dog were sometimes rewarded with a very stale chocolate biscuit from an elaborate biscuit barrel. We were very fond of this strange old lady, and had been sad to hear she was dead.

The house required considerable work to bring it up to a reasonable standard; plumbers, joiners and electricians had their work cut out, and when they had finished, the painters and later carpet-fitters took over. It was impossible to live in the house with floor-boards up, and all the plaster dust etc., so my parents and I stayed at a small hotel further along the coast, so that we could keep an eye on the workmen.

One Saturday morning, I went along to the new house on my bike to see how the work was progressing. To my surprise I found the painters and our home-help out in the front garden. I made a facetious remark about the apparent lack of toil, and one embarrassed painter muttered: "I'm no goin' in there again!" When asked "Why?" He said that there was something in there. He looked quite scared, and I might add that he was a big, burly chap. I soon realised the rest of them looked scared as well. Possibly that was the moment that Daphne the Investigator came into being. I went into the hall of the house, and then I heard it...trit-trot, trit-trot, along the upper passage-way at the top of the galleried stairway. It was a sound that was going to become very familiar over the next four and a half years. It sounded like very high-heeled shoes on bare floor-boards! We continued to hear it long after the carpet-fitters had hammered the last tack into the thick wall-to-wall carpeting, which was laid on very thick under-felt right along the corridor and down the stone staircase. The house had been built in the 1930s, for his own use, by an Edinburgh architect, who was very conscious of the fire-danger from wooden stairways.

At about the time I was investigating the footsteps, Mum and Dad arrived from Edinburgh. Dad, who had been getting more and more frustrated by the slow progress in the house, strode into the hall, and then he heard it too; trit-trot, trit-trot. Birds on the roof, rats in the loft were all solutions he said were possible explanations. There were no birds on the roof. The assembled company on the lawn could testify to that. There was no evidence of rats or any other wild-life in the empty loft. Eventually the painters were persuaded to resume their work, so long as we, and particularly Dad, stayed there as well.

We moved into the house soon after that incident, because it seemed the only way to get the work completed. Everything seemed to go wrong that could go wrong, however. The workmen were not pulling their weight. One plumber's apprentice took his weight with him, as he fell through the bathroom floor, down through the larder ceiling, onto the fridge. It was a new fridge too; the first we had ever had! That was only one incident out of so many, as we struggled to make the house habitable.

This is a state of affairs that I have heard so often over the years, in reports of hauntings and even in poltergeist cases. It is as though something resents interference with the old order of the building; the way things were. One case I investigated had been quiet since the previous summer. The family were gradually restoring and extending an old 18th.century hunting lodge. They had all sorts of phenomena, including apparitions, which had been dormant since the visit of a medium, the previous summer. One January night, the mother rang me to say that that all was not well. The apparition of a woman had been seen by the children and the house had a nasty atmosphere, once more. "What are you doing at the moment?" I asked. It turned out that her husband was sitting at the fireside, drawing plans for the next phase of building work on the house! I said that perhaps he had better stop meantime. I will tell you more about this case and more like it later on.

Daphne Plowman


To go back to our own haunted house; the footsteps I heard on that fateful Saturday were heard for the next four and a half years. Thick carpet and carpet felt made not a bit of difference. That was one of the few occasions we heard the footsteps during daylight hours. Usually it was just after we had all gone to bed. When we had had enough, someone would shout out: "Shut-up Margaret, we want to get to sleep!" Strangely it often did stop, and this is a remedy I offer to subjects in similar situations, in cases brought to me.

Now footsteps were not the only strange occurrences we were subjected to. Soon after we moved into the house, things started to get moved around, and of course at first we put it down to the chaos we were living in the midst of. A lot of our things had not been unpacked, and tea chests of clothes, ornaments, kitchen utensils and china, still awaited a permanent home. Eventually it became quite clear that there was something very strange going on in our new abode. It wasn't really very scary, most of the time, but very frustrating, all the same. Clothes would be washed, ironed and then put away in wardrobe or drawer. Later a jumper or blouse would be found down-stairs in a silly place; such as the top of the fridge, in the walk-in larder, or even in the sun-lounge. Tools would come in from the potting shed and find their way to the dining-room or even the lounge. Pillow slips and sheets commuted from the linen cupboard to other unlikely locations, with regular monotony.

One of the most extraordinary occurrences in the disappearance of property stakes (known as spontaneous dematerialisation in the 'trade') was centred round my precious cactus plants. I had grown them from seed, and had nurtured them since school days. Some of the little plants were in a ceramic Japanese Garden, and others were in small pots. They normally lived on the windowsills in my bedroom, which were on two walls of the very sunny room; making it ideal for cactus-growing, with plenty light and sunshine.

I was invited to stay with an aunt and uncle in Peebles for a week. After giving my parents strict instructions as to the care of my beloved plants, I departed. During the week, Mum rang up to see how I was getting on, and I enquired after my cactus plants. I was horrified to hear Mum say: "What did you do with them?" We haven't seen them since you left."

I thought at first that I was being teased, but she seemed quite serious as she assured me the windowsills in my room were quite bare, with no sign of any plant.

As soon as I returned at the end of the week, I stormed up to my room, and of course the plants were all there, in good condition, just as I had left them! I was most indignant. I had been teased. Strangely, Mum and Dad appeared to be just as surprised to see the cactus, and as glad as I was. The next morning, the home help arrived and she backed up my parent's story. As far as she was concerned, there were certainly no cactus plants on the window-sills for the whole week I had been away. She said that she had cleaned out my room the very morning of my return, and definitely no cactus plants! We never did resolve that mystery, and both parents maintained their story to the end of their lives. I trusted my parents, and am still left with the question: "Where did those cactus plants go for that week?" Indeed where does all the property which disappears from disturbed houses go to? Most of it returns eventually, and very often to the very place it was last seen. Or at least to where the owner has searched, sometimes over and over again. This is one of the most often reported types of paranormal phenomena and I will be discussing it in greater detail later on.

Now Margaret had sacked several housekeepers, during her last few years; for stealing her property. This of course could be put down to her advancing years, and even dishonest housekeepers. We certainly found some uncashed cheques and share bonuses, behind a large clock on the kitchen wall when it was removed to let the painters do their work. But perhaps Margaret also suffered from paranormal movement of objects, and maybe she was not the only paranormal agent at work in the house.

I think the most spectacular incident during our stay in the house, was a 'one of', it only happened once, on a winter's night. Mum and I had been invited to dinner by friends who lived along the road. The girl in the house had been at school with me. Our mothers were very friendly, and she and her brothers had been some of the children I had played with as a child. Halfway through the evening, Mum remembered that we had left some photos taken on a recent holiday, at home. One of the boys volunteered to accompany me back home, to collect them. As we approached the house, we could see lots of lights through the trees. We soon saw that light streamed from every window of our house. The outside lights, the light in the porch and at the garage and back door area, were all on as well. This was the early 1950s, the era of the aftermath of the War, with fuel shortages. It just wasn't done to waste electricity. My companion was suitably horrified and I doubt if he believed me, when I said that all the lights had been switched off, before we left the house. I collected the photos, and we carefully turned off all the lights that had been switched on in every room, front and back, upstairs and downstairs; even in the sun-lounge, which was only used in summer. We then returned to tell our tale, which was treated as a joke. Later Mum and I returned to find that Dad was back home from a dinner in town. He was not at all pleased, and demanded to know where he was expected to find the money to pay for all that wasted electricity. He had evidently returned to find the same situation that we had found, a few hours earlier. All the lights in the house on! He took a lot of persuading that we had found the same thing, and had turned all the lights off.

Towards the end of our stay there, the house took on a nasty atmosphere. What had been mischievous and fairly light-hearted, became more sinister. I left home to take up a job in the Midlands, and the house was sold.

We later discovered that the house changed hands several times after we left. The young man who bought the house from us, died in peculiar circumstances, we were told, and there were hints that later owners were also having problems.

Possibly living in such a house, what I now call a disturbed house, in some way conditioned me to detect the atmospheres of strange buildings and places, or perhaps I was born with it. Certainly as a young child I had refused to visit certain houses that I didn't like. One house in Edinburgh we used to visit, I felt like running out of it very fast. I made a fuss every time I knew I was going there. Visits to places like Glencoe, filled me with dread, whereas other houses and places I found attractive, peaceful and positive.


Although I had strange experiences from time to time, and also was interested to hear of the experiences of other people, I was not involved to any great extent with haunted places for several years, after leaving home. Odd incidents and experiences did occur from time to time, but nothing that was long-lasting. I later moved to Glasgow and was married in 1958.
I was very busy bringing up the four sons, who came along one by one. In 1975, when the youngest boy was about eleven, I took a job as an Advertising Executive and later Advertising Manager, for a small local paper. It wasn't long before I found I was back in a haunted building once more.

The office was in a very old tenement building, which is now demolished. One day I was walking up the two flights of stairs, when I saw something that puzzled me. It looked as though a struggle was taking place between a red-haired woman and a dark-haired lad, on the narrow landing outside the office door. Suddenly the young man, who was possibly about twenty, appeared to topple over the rickety banisters, and then disappear. He certainly didn't fly past me, at the first floor level, where I was standing, horrified. I looked further down to the ground floor, which was empty, and then continued to the upper level of the office. Up there everything was normal, and I could hear the familiar sound of typewriters coming from the Editorial Office at the back of the building. Still shaken by what I thought I had witnessed, I enquired from the staff what had been going on, without mentioning what I had seen. Nothing other than the perpetual ringing of one or other of the three phones, had evidently occurred in my absence. No red-haired woman had visited the office, and everyone was busy with their work. I later discovered that a red-haired woman had lived in the flat, possibly in the 1920s, when the building housed two families on each floor, who shared one outside toilet in a sort of tower block, which was in ruins in the 1970s. An old man who had been brought up in the next close, seemed to remember her, and said that she was known to have quite a temper! He did not, however remember her having a son, so we don't know who the young man might have been, if he ever existed.

The office had a funny feeling sometimes, particularly after dark. Our receptionist looked at me pleadingly late one winter's afternoon, not long after I started working there. She asked if I could possibly wait another half-hour, when she too would be finished work, before I left the office. She said this was because she was scared of being in the building by herself, after dark. I had flexible hours and often saw clients on my way to, or sometimes on my way home from the office; so I usually left before she did. The two young reporters were often away on assignments and this left the receptionist alone. She was reticent as to any experiences she had had, and I did not press her. I wish now that I had.

That was not the only brush I had with the dark-haired lad. One morning we were all having a cup of coffee, and I was bent over a table looking at some page plans. Suddenly I felt as though someone, possibly Bruce, one of our young reporters had leaned heavily on the back of my shoulders. It was a habit he had and he had done it several times before. "Stop it, Bruce," I said, as I shrugged my shoulders. I suddenly felt icy cold, and at the same time I realised that Bruce was out somewhere on an assignment.

Bruce had dark hair, and like my eldest son, had just celebrated his twenty-first birthday. As I turned round, I just saw a dark head, and then it was gone. I must have gone very pale, because our press-photographer said: "You saw something, didn't you?" I asked him what he had seen and he said that he had felt a funny unease, and then felt "that cold blast." He had also seen me attempt to shrug whatever it was off my shoulders. No-one felt or saw anything untoward, except the photographer and myself. Later he said he almost saw something, a shadow possibly was dark-haired!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Kinross Connections


By John Plowman (

In the TV programme The Country House Revealed (part2/6) Dan Cruikshank told the story of Kinross House, which inspired some further research.

Kinross takes its name from the Gaelic ceann-rois (head of the promontory which sticks out from the W side of Loch Leven). The loch is a prominent feature of the area, formerly Kinross-shire, with the Ochil Hills to the NW, the Lomond Hills to the NE, Cleish Hills to the SW and Benarty Hill to the south. There are several islands in the loch, the largest being St.Serf’s Island with a Priory that goes back to the 9th C and Castle Island on which Loch Leven Castle stands. It goes back to the time of Alexander III (1257). The castle is said to be haunted by Mary Queen of Scots who was imprisoned there in 1567.

The modern visitor to the town of Kinross would most likely arrive via junction 6 of the M90. The town was on the road from Edinburgh to Perth and was formerly a railway junction with lines going westwards to Dollar and Alloa, southwards to Dunfermline and northwards to Perth and Dundee.

The original parish church stood near the extremity of the peninsula SE of Kinross House. It became the town hall from 1837 to 1868. Peter Underwood in his Gazetteer of British, Scottish & Irish Ghosts describes a poltergeist case that affected the parish minister Mr McGill in 1718. Pins of various sizes were mixed in his food and clothing was ripped.

Kinross House, built at the end of the 17th C (1685-92), was designed by Sir William Bruce. An older mansion on a nearby site was taken down in 1723.

The approach to the house is by way of a long drive, which divides into two as it nears the building. The design continues the line of the drive on the far side of the house towards Loch Leven Castle. It seemed to me that this alignment might be a part of a more extensive connection or ley.

The idea of an “Old Straight Track” connecting prehistoric sites was introduced by Alfred Watkins in his book of that title. Consulting the OS map (Landranger sheet 58 Perth to Alloa), I placed a ruler along the line between Kinross House and Loch Leven Castle and noted that the line extended westwards, following the general direction of the South Queich upstream to Myrehaugh Hill and thence via Glendevon Castle (grid square NN9705) to The Seat,  (NN9506), a hill overlooking Glen Eagles. Glendevon Castle may also be haunted.

Going eastwards beyond Loch Leven (on a grid bearing of 103º) the line reached a hilltop with an OS triangulation pillar (NT2299), beyond which two small contour rings indicated possible mounds continuing the alignment. Later research showed that the ‘trig point’ is due E of Ben Cleuch, the highest point of the Ochil Hills.

Continuing the 103º direction on the next map sheet, the line runs south of Glenrothes, crosses the Lochty burn at the same place as the A92, passes N of a standing stone at Earlseat and reaches the shore at Macduff’s Castle, East Wemyss. The castle is reputed to be haunted by the ghost of Mary Sibbald, “The White Lady of the Wemyss Caves”.

It seemed unlikely that the line going westwards (283º) from Loch Leven to Kinross ended at The Seat. The route across the Ochil Hills is difficult terrain, being a series of ups and downs. The modern road sticks to the lower ground, following the River Devon to Glen Eagles. I followed the line through the Ochils onto the Stirling map (Sheet 57), towards the higher ground of Uamh Beag (NN6911). The line direction links a line of foothills with the twin summits, where there is a hilltop cairn and a triangulation pillar.

The hill Uamh Beag takes its name from the ‘little cave’ or cist on the eastern summit. The great cave Uamh Mhor is on the SW spur. Two chambered cairns near Callander connect with the hilltop. Ballachraggan is 1 Scottish league from the cist and Auchenlaich is the same distance from Uamh Mhor, going towards the summit which is 4mi from Auchenlaich. The Scottish league of 3 Scottish miles (Sc mi.) is the same as 3 minutes of latitude, so is a natural unit related to the size of the earth. Chambered cairns on the Isle of Arran are similarly linked with each other and Ailsa Craig.


In military speak an OP is an observation post. I would like to suggest that it could equally stand for observation place and I think that Uamh Beag and the surrounding hills are an example of an OP in this sense. The first requirement of such a place is that it should be on high ground with a good view. Unlike an observation post, which needs to be concealed, an observation place is a landmark that can be seen from some distance. Secondly, the OP is not a point but several connected points like the twin summits and spur of Uamh Beag.

Uamh Beag might be the start of a ley to Kinross, Loch Leven and East Wemyss, but perhaps the line continues westwards beyond Uamh Beag to even higher ground. The direction is across undulating terrain to a crossing point where the waters from Gleann a Chroin and Gleann Breac-nic meet and a track crosses a bridge. The line then climbs again to reach a high point at Beinn Bhreac. This speckled hill overlooks Strathyre and is part of a ridge that ascends via Beinn Each (NN6015) and Stuc a Chroin to Ben Vorlich (NN6218).

Beinn Bhreac is another OP with a 1 mile connection along the ridge between Beinn Bhreac and Beinn Each. From this ridge the hills on the far side of Loch Lubnaig and Strathyre can be observed. For example, a fairy hill Beinn an t-Sidhein is viewed beyond Glen Ample and Meall Mor.

If the Loch Leven – Kinross ley is extended across Loch Lubnaig it meets a number of shielings in Glen Buckie. These dwellings have some of the characteristics of an OP, being set along the contour lines of the hillside in the direction of Ben Ledi. The group falls on the line between Ben Lomond and Ben Our and two of the structures indicate the direction and distance to Ben Our 6 miles away. One of these sites and a third site match the direction of the line from Uamh Beag. Another site in the group, located between Beinn an t-Sidhein and Benvane, marks 6mi from Ben Vorlich.

Edinchip chambered cairn is exactly 3mi from Beinn an t-Sidhein. The same direction leads to the summit of Meall Cala at 7mi and another Beinn Bhreac to the west of BenVenue. This Beinn Bhreac (NN4505) serves as an OP between Ben Lomond and Ben Ledi.

The line joining Edinchip chambered cairn and Auchenlaich chambered cairn crosses the ridge north of Beinn Each and is 9Sc mi. (3 leagues) in length. A massive crag marks the intersection with the Ben Lomond – Ben Ledi line at NN6211, 5 leagues from Ben Lomond, 1 league from Auchenlaich, ½league from Beinn Bhreac and roughly 4 miles from Ben Ledi.

The Loch Leven – Kinross line seems to continue beyond the shielings in Glen Buckie, crossing the Lianach ridge at a knoll and a crag 1mile beyond the shielings. Ruling the line on an atlas from East Wemyss through Uamh Beag identified An Caisteal as the next hilltop and Dunollie Castle, north of Oban as a coastal point. Beyond this the line crosses the Isle of Mull and goes to sea again between Coll and Tiree. Following the line on a map for such a long distance is not accurate, but Oban makes sense as the west coast destination with Coll/Tiree as the final target. At the other end of the line we have the Forth Estuary.

I think that there is strong evidence that prehistoric people surveyed the land, creating landmarks and using lines of sight from OPs to link places with mountains and other distinctive natural features. Later builders of castles and mansions seem to have been aware of these connections.

There are numerous internet references to the connection between ghosts and ley lines or lines of ‘energy’ detected by dowsing. It is difficult to distinguish between facts and folklore but what is clear is that certain places and connections between them have more history of human activity than others. Perhaps the Kinross – Oban line is an example of ‘ghost + ley’.

Sunday, 17 April 2011


  It is very sad when a child dies and even sadder to think of a little 'lost spirit'. There are however many reports of ghosts of children, and often they are attracted to other children, now living in what they feel is still their home.
   Three investigations we were involved in around 1992/3 involved 'little ghosts'. In two of the cases there are children in the house nowadays, who are apparently attracting those 'spirit children' from the past.
   In one of the cases, Mark (3), one of the three children now living in a Glasgow council house, appears to be playing and interacting with unseen children and their toys. Unseen to most of the adults in the house, that is. The sound of a ball bouncing in Mark's bedroom upstairs was reported, and later heard by myself and also another investigator, when we visited the family. There was no one in the room at the time. Mark was screaming at night and distressing his family. He was sometimes even crying through the day, as though he was tired of playing, but the 'children' would not go away and let him rest. We told him to wave to them and say "Good-by as though they were ordinary visitors, and this seemed to help a bit, but not entirely. Mark still seemed to be very distressed from time to time.
   I eventually invited a medium along to see if he could pick up any impressions in the house. Now I admit to being quite cruel to mediums when I am investigating a case. I give them practically no information, other than the number of people in the home. "Two adults and three children are in the disturbed house, and I'll pick you up and run you there on Saturday morning about 10am," I said. We picked him up and drove him to the house in a sprawling pre-war housing estate, on the outskirts of Glasgow. I had also warned the family not to give him any information until the chap had had a chance to wander around the house and Mark's bedroom in particular, to see what he could find out. This is my usual procedure in such investigations.  We then follow up with a general discussion, including the family concerned. On this occasion Mark's Granny had arrived as well.
   Our medium, Ian, came downstairs smiling and he told us the house was full of kids. Mark at this stage was out in the garden with John, playing with his Police pedal car. Granny had taken the other two to the shops. What kids?  Spirit children of course! The children were much older than Mark, we were told; perhaps about 7 to 9 years-old, and they had brought along their toys as well.
   Now this might sound extraordinary to many people, and you may now be thinking that I am too gullible to investigate such cases. Perhaps I am, but we had this small child obviously seeing something, and he was interacting with something or someone that he could see, and the medium could see, but his parents, Granny and we could not. Later his little brother aged 18 months, also started to interact in the same way. As Mark was beginning to cope with the situation, Graham started, almost where he left off!
   We were lucky to have considerable knowledge of the history of the house. One of our investigator's aunts had lived in the same house for many years. In fact she was the first tenant but had moved out to look after her mother, in the same estate, several years ago. She had no children and it seems the only child who had stayed in the house was our own investigator, now in her thirties. She had stayed with her aunt during her childhood from time to time.
   Were those children, and their toys, gate-crashers from the Spirit World? Or is there another better explanation?
   In February 1993, were asked to investigate the ghost of a little girl in a large house in Lanarkshire. The house is now run as a hotel, but soon after it was built, Annie aged 7, the daughter of the first owner was killed in a riding accident in the extensive grounds. Her playroom known as the "Doll's Room", at the time of our visit was the chef's room, in the old nursery flat at the top of the building. The young chef and several members of staff, had seen and felt the little girl's presence, both on this floor and also on the stairs. Before our visit, I had spoken to one of the receptionists who had been very frightened with an experience she had, while typing at the reception desk, near the foot of the very grand and elaborate staircase. She said she was "frozen to the spot", as she felt a presence on the stairs behind her. During our visit we saw a huge mirror over the enormous fire-place, on the opposite wall from the wooden banisters. Did the little girl crouch down and look  at her reflection in the mirror, through the gaps in the banisters? There is only room for a child to do this.
   We saw Annie's portrait, painted in oils, when she was three and we were surprised to see a very mature little face, with a very determined  expression for such a young child. We also saw the little family cemetery in the grounds, where she is buried alongside other children of the family who died in infancy; her parents were also buried there later. It was all overgrown when we visited it, and the writing on the gravestones has almost disappeared. We used dowsing to find Annie's grave and we were almost certain we had located it. We were accompanied by the young chef, who we felt was almost obsessed by Annie, or at least her sad story. In fact we wondered if he could be helping the other members of staff to see and feel her presence? There has been no evidence of interaction with this little ghost, so perhaps it is just like an old film being replayed to a receptive audience.


   A member of the SSPR told me a tale she had heard from a young medium from the midlands: he had been called out by a lady who was very upset because she was sure she could hear a child whimpering and the sounds of a dreadful cough, coming from one corner of her bedroom. The medium said he had made contact with  the spirit of a child who had died in the room at one time from diphtheria. When he died, he said he had been afraid to go  "towards the light". Instead he had just stayed there, crouched in the corner. The medium, with the help of the owner of the house, helped him to go towards the light, and he was not heard again. A lovely fairy tale?...Perhaps but have you got a better answer?
   Another child ghost gave a man quite a turn in the middle of the night; so much so that it took him five days before he told anyone about it. He rang me up and said that had got up in the night to go to the toilet and on his return to the bedroom, he found a small boy of about eight or nine years old at the bottom of his bed. The child wore an enormous old-fashioned night-shirt...big enough for a full-grown man. As he got back into bed the man found the child had crawled up the bed, and was lying cuddled into his chest. He felt the damp little body and soaking wet curly hair against his body. "Who are you?" The little boy asked. "Who are you?" asked the man. "My name's Paddy," said the child with a strong Irish accent. "How did you get so wet?" he was asked. "I've got the fever.... I died of the fever," was the reply, as the little ghost gradually disappeared.
   Our research of this sad little tale showed that the tenement property where our subject lived, had been built in the early part of the 19th.century. Irish immigrants had moved into the area because of famine in their homeland. They had brought with them a particularly virulent form of Scarlet Fever, and many of the children had died. Possibly Paddy, if he ever existed, was one of those unfortunate children. The man who reported his experience, was a bachelor, and had little experience of children. He was quite convinced that he had not been dreaming.


   A case from the English side of the border was reported by a mother living alone with two daughters, aged five and seventeen.Their home is a 200-year old house in the country and fairly isolated. R The younger child had been seeing a little girl ghost recently, and her mother had overheard her young daughter speaking to someone that she could not see. When questioned, the child said that she was talking to the little girl who used to live in the house, long, long ago. It later turned out that the older daughter had met the little ghost girl, when she was about the same age as her sister, but she had not seen her for years; she had almost forgotten about her, and had never mentioned it to her mother.
   I know that young children are often said to have imaginary friends, but in my opinion there is considerable evidence that in at least some cases, there is something much more interesting going on. Look at the case of Mark and the 'spirit children'. The medium picked up his impressions in Mark's room, before we attempted to tell him the phenomena reported by the family. Often the child can give considerable evidence about his or her friends, which is later backed up by evidence uncovered by either investigators like ourselves, or it just pops up in due course by itself from old newspaper cuttings, finds in neglected lofts or other storage places. Even old children's toys, dolls, notebooks, diaries etc are found, which shed some light into former young occupants of a home. In other cases family members, long departed can be the source of such childish companions, in other cases they just seem to drop in to share another child's toys and life.  In most cases the whole phase is over after the age of six or seven, or even earlier. I am quite sure in the majority of cases it is quite harmless, but it can be very annoying. Stephan (pronounced in a Welsh accent, by a very Scottish child, Emily.) was very irritating. He had to have his place set at the table. He even dragged so far behind in town one day that the family missed the bus home, and the family had a very late tea!  Emily's mum realised one day that the little presence (she had sometimes felt him around, but never saw him) had been missing for several weeks. When questioned, Emily said quite bluntly: "He's gone." She would never discuss the matter again. That is quite a familiar reaction. One phase of childhood is over, and is quickly forgotten in the rough and tumble of school, homework and play.


   Visitors to the haunted Mary King's Close under Edinburgh's Royal Mile, have reported another little ghost. Sensitive people sometimes see a little girl, about eleven years old, wearing a long, dirty and ragged white dress. She has sores and scabs on her face. Sometimes she is seen sitting on a stool in the corner of a particular room, with a doll. On other occasions she is seen in the same area accompanied by a little dog.
   I have had several first hand accounts from people who have seen the girl, or at least felt a presence or coldness in the haunted room. We don't know who she was, or why she is so persistent, but perhaps one day a medium will be able to communicate with her. On the other hand she may just be what I call a memory ghost; just like an old movie which can be replayed over and over again. The film stars will never do anything different from the day they made the film. This little ghost has been known to follow groups who go down deep under the City Chambers, to an area of old closes, which was devastated by The Plague, in 1645/6.
   A case I was involved with in the summer of 1996, involved another ghost child, of much the same age as the girl in the ragged white dress. One sunny Sunday a couple who had just moved to the Borders, went for a country walk to a local beauty spot, near their new home. They were near a waterfall, when the wife saw a girl of about eleven years old, standing nearby. She was wearing, what the lady described as the dress of a Puritan. Soon the lady found the child tugging at her skirt, and she was quite afraid. She said to her husband that she wanted to go home, but as they walked home, she found the little girl walking alongside her. Several weeks later the lady's husband rang me to say that his wife had always been a very sensible lady, mother of three children, and very down-to-earth. She kept seeing this young girl around her, and was now terrified. Could I help? The family were not on the phone and this made things difficult, and also I had illness in my household, and could not manage to visit them I put them in touch with a local group, to at least give the lady some support and comfort in her predicament.


   Back in the 1980s, I was at a lunch party to celebrate my husband's parents' Golden Wedding. We had lunch in a Sussex pub, and during our visit I heard of some quite distressing little ghosts, who from time to time upset people in the pretty village. The village is Bramber, which is near Steyning, and it has a ruined castle and a disturbing history of ghostly children, who run after passers-by begging for food.
   The story I heard was, that about eight-hundred years ago, Bramber Castle was owned by William de Breose, a very powerful lord who owned forty manors. King John suspected his loyalty and was afraid of the man's power. He demanded his children as hostages, and although they tried to escape to Ireland, they were captured and taken to Windsor Castle, and left to starve to death. The children are still said to be seen, particularly round about Christmas time, at dusk. The emaciated figure of a little girl and boy, are seen, dressed in rags, holding out their hands silently begging for food.  Sometimes they seem to stare wistfully towards the direction of their now ruined former home, Bramber Castle. If anyone tries to speak to them, they just vanish. A traditional ghost story? Perhaps, but where did the idea originate. I haven’t been back to Bramber since that one occasion, but hopefully one day I will follow it up.


   In a case we investigated in Edinburgh in 1995, I actually saw some of the mischief created by a spirit child, or at least that was what I was told by a young medium.
   I got a call from two young men sharing a ground floor flat. I was told that things were moving about, there was persistent ringing of the door-bell and telephone, and when either of them went to the door there was nobody there. The men also said that they kept on losing tweezers, and a pair of hairdressing scissors had come along the hearth all by itself.  The video had changed channel all by itself while they were in the middle of watching a film. The young men, Charles and Bruce, said that their cat was behaving strangely, and I saw this for myself on my first visit to their flat. The cat, a lovely ginger lady called Mimi, came into the bedroom, as though to show us around, and then she shot out of the room backwards at high speed! I also heard that sometimes she tried to shoot out the closed kitchen window, as though she was being chased. She was normally a placid friendly animal, her owners said, but sometimes she seemed to be watching something or someone, and then she would flee.
   I listened to Charles and Bruce, and we examined the rooms where all sorts of phenomena had occurred. I decided that if they were agreeable, a medium might be helpful in this case. They were delighted with the prospect and asked me to invite whoever I thought would be suitable. Angela, a young girl in her twenties, had offered her services in cases a few weeks before, so I decided to let her try her ability in this flat.
   We picked the girl up in the centre of Edinburgh on the day, and drove her to the flat on the outskirts of the town. She assured me that she didn't know the district well and had never met the flat mates. She meditated briefly, and then said she had met a little girl making a daisy chain in the meadow where the block of flats now stood. Now I remember that area of Edinburgh when I was a child, and it was farm fields, and there certainly was a meadow in that area. The little girl told Angela that she liked the pussycat, and she only wanted to play with it, but it kept running away! At that stage Angela had met Mimi, but had not witnessed her fast reversing, or her rushing at the closed kitchen window. As usual I had told her nothing about the phenomena experienced in the flat.
   The little girl said that she was puzzled by the house, which was sometimes there and sometimes not. She didn't like the old man who lived there, but she did like playing with the "pricky things", and sometimes borrowed them to play with in the meadow.
   I met the neighbour in the flat opposite, who had lived there since the block was built in the late 1960s. She established that an elderly couple had lived in the flat since it was built, the lady had died the previous summer; having been bedridden for about six years. The old man had stayed on until he went into hospital the previous summer, and had died in December 1994. The house was then sold to Charles and Bruce. The old man had got very grumpy and difficult towards the end, I heard. I also was told that he and his wife had had the same problems with the doorbell, from the day he fitted it.
   Angela saw the old man, but didn't have any actual contact with him, however she managed to get the child to promise to leave the cat in peace, and also the men's property alone.
   All I can say is that Charles and Bruce had very little to report, when I phoned them the next week. All was still quiet a fortnight later. I have not heard from them again, and assume that was the end of their mischievous little ghost. 
   Another little ghost sighting was reported by my own grand children, in Inverness.

Abertarff House, said to be the oldest house in Inverness, is owned by the National Trust for Scotland.  Until recently it was run as an art gallery and studio by my son and daughter-in-law.  Last autumn their daughter (11) and her cousin (10), along with a friend (11) saw something on the stairs. I got the story from the younger child at the time, and only last week heard her version from the 11-year old. They had all seen a little girl, wearing a long, grey old-fashioned dress. That was all I heard to begin with. I also heard from my daughter-in-law that two members of staff had had experiences in the building, but had not seen anything. One girl had felt a tug at her skirt while she was sweeping the stairs. The other girl had been very frightened when something tapped her on the shoulder, and she felt it was something aggressive. She was too scared to turn round, and gave up her job that day.

The story I heard from my 11-year-old grand-daughter (R) was that the little girl had blonde hair and was about her age.  When asked what she was doing, the story became very interesting: the child was sitting beside a fireplace “up on the wall”. Evidently there are remains of old rooms, with no floors on the wall beside the stairs. I then heard that the ‘ghost child’ was sitting beside this fireplace with her teddy on her knee. Now either R was using her imagination because she couldn’t actually see what the child was holding or the era that she belonged to was later than 1901, when teddy bears became fashionable toys for children.

By Rosie Plowman Age 11

Issue 159 had a photograph of Abertarff House, Inverness on the front cover, and the ghost story on page 2. Rosie now tells the story of her experience in her own words. [NOT corrected by Editor Granny!]

Last summer my mum, Susan Plowman, a fully trained jeweller and painter, was renting an old building in Church Street, Inverness, called Abertarff House from the National Trust, and had moved her jewellery down there to sell.

Also that summer my cousins came up from Buckingham and we all decided to go to Inverness shopping. When we came back from shopping we went to Abertarff House for a rest. In Abertarff there was a long staircase to the top of the building, where there was a flat. So my younger cousin Jennifer Plowman and I went up to the flat. Also in Aberarff House was an old fireplace in the wall above the staircase. Jennifer and I decided to go back downstairs to the shop and on our way downstairs, Jennifer stopped to look at the fireplace with her new sunglasses. I asked what was wrong and she told me that she could see a sort of misty figure in the fireplace at the top of the staircase, and handed me over her glasses. I put them on and in the fireplace I saw a little girl with blonde hair and a Victorian dress on. She was playing with her doll, sitting dangling her legs from the fireplace. I felt a strange spooky feeling but I wasn’t scared. Me and Jennifer went back down stairs and told my mum.            Rosie Plowman