Monthly Archives: December 2010

The 5 Worst Ghosts of 2010

It’s fair to say that some of the ghost stories that grace the newspapers and news websites often leave the more rationally minded of us staring at our screens with sheer horror. Horrified, not by the latest ‘spectres’ to have been caught on camera or film, but by the fact that anyone could have thought what was caught was news worthy.

BARsoc researchers have touched upon such news stories in past articles and will continue to do so throughout 2011, but here at BARsoc HQ* we thought it would be fun to look back at the ghost stories covered by the media through 2010 and choose the 5 that made us weep the most. Again, not weep with horror, but with despair, despair that these ghosts made the news and gained so much attention and helped to mock the field of paranormal research (and in turn, people like us!)

So, behold!

The 5 Worst Ghosts of 2010

#5 – The Savannah Cemetery Ghost


This video came to our attention in November and it is claimed that a ‘ghost child’ can be seen running through the Colonial Park Cemetery in Savannah Georgia. The image is seen running in the distance past some tombstones. We then see some object, which many think is also the ghost, shoot up a tree and moments later drop down.

It’s difficult to tell what could be the cause of the supposed ghost, but we all agree at BARsoc HQ* that this probably, in all reality, isn’t a ghost. It’s too vague because of the distance between the supposed ghost and the camera, as well as the fact that the person shooting the film didn’t bother to go towards the object to investigate.

Jumping to the conclusion that something odd, or something that cannot be explained must be a ghost is quite a leap of logic and doesn’t make sense because we can’t actually be sure of what a ghost is – after all, there is no testable definition of what a ghost is.

So, although we cannot explain away what the ghost in this video could be, we’ve included it because of the assumptions being made and the questions not answered by people making wild claims.

#4 – The Gwyrch Castle Ghost

It’s likely that at some point in 2010 you saw this ghost photo, if not, lucky you. The photo was taken by Mr. Kevin Horkin who claimed he did not notice the spooky figure while taking the shot and that it was only when he had downloaded the photos that he noticed it. Building the oddness to this tale, he claimed that the spot in which the girl is standing in the photo is a place in the building where it is impossible to stand.

The figure appears to be on the first floor, in what used to be a banquet hall where the floor crumbled away years ago, meaning there is nothing for a person to stand on. Weird, right?

Until you see this photo that shows a floor…

This is where the doubt started to set in for many who were following this particular story, Why lie about there not being a floor when there is? It may have been a simple mistake that Kevin Horkin made but, if we were going to the newspaper with a ghost photo (which is likely…) we’d make sure we had all the details first to avoid making such a mistake and looking a bit suspect.

After some digging it turned out that Kevin Horkin is the managing director of a ‘Psychic Management’ company in the U.K. called Parallel Management. According to the company’s website:

‘His wealth of experience encompasses expertise in artist management, events management, sponsorships, public relations, media relations, marketing and artist liaison.’

It gets even better because at the time the photo was taken and released, he and his team were scouting different locations for a “Psychic retreat”. In the Lancashine Telegraph an article reports how:

A RIBBLE Valley businessman is bidding to buy a huge castle to open Britain’s first ‘psychic school of excellence’. Clitheroe-based Kevin Horkin has put in an offer of £850,000 to buy the derelict Grade I-listed Gwrych Castle in Abergele, North Wales.

Mr Horkin, who owns psychic management company Parallel, wants to spend ’several millions’ renovating the 19th century castle, installing a hotel and facilities for psychics to connect with the spiritual world.

During an 18-month search for a base of psychic school of excellence, Mr Horkin and his staff at Parallel, based in Waddington Road, Clitheroe, visited around 20 houses and castles before deciding on Gwrych.

Mr Horkin added: “It is something different. There’s a risk with opening it but I just feel strongly about it.

“I love the place and I feel that people will love it too. There’s just something about it.”

Earlier this week, Mr Horkin revealed how a ghostly image had shown up on mobile phone photographs he took at Gwrych Castle.

What a big fat coincidence… right? Right guys? …guys?

#3 – The Wolfe Pub Ghost Video

You didn’t see this ghost video? WHERE WERE YOU?!

The Wolfe Pub in Little Dockray, Cumbria used to be a funeral parlour according to the landlord which is why it is haunted. Which makes sense… possibly.

The 35-second sequence recorded by a CCTV camera shows a supposed apparition that descends through the ceiling of the room. Numerous newspaper articles (like this one) claim the apparition then polishes a table before zooming upwards and going back through the ceiling – momentarily assuming the likeness of a face which is pretty spooky stuff!

Well, no, actually, it’s not spooky because it is a fly on the lens of the CCTV camera that is out of focus. See:

If you watch the video it’s really easy to see how it is a fly, you can even see the wings moving. The thing that makes this whole case a little frustrating is the claim that strange happenings have also been caught on the CCTV of the travel agents next door to the pub, such as a computer turning itself on, a computer mouse being thrown from a desk and a sign in the window falling down. Yet we’re just expected to believe that this happened because the footage has never been supplied.

When you add the anecdotes to the fly in the video it doesn’t make a convincing ghost story really, does it? Our theory is that the landlord is either credulous, or trying to raise the number of people who walk through his door – or both.

Video:

#2 – The Pint Glass Poltergeist

The New Inn, Gloucestershire, made the headlines earlier this year when an unattended pint of beer was caught on CCTV sliding off of a table all on its own, which is pretty impressive at first glance.

However, the story gets pretty suspicious, pretty fast. The video was featured on The Sun Newspaper website where it quoted Landlord Mark Cooke:

“I’d heard all these stories before we arrived and was pretty sceptical, like most people.But the moving pint was something else. When I saw it on the CCTV it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. You just can’t explain it — the table’s dead steady, the floor’s not uneven, and no-one’s near it.”

We disagree with Mark because there are several ways in which a glass can slide from a table on its own. Those who drink alcohol, and more specifically beer will know that sometimes the pint glass in which your drink is served is wet from overspill at the pump. Sometimes different surfaces in pubs are also wet because they’ve had wet glasses on them.

In the video you can clearly see the customer take a full pint to the table where an empty pint glass is standing, chances are that the empty pint glass was wet (and thus, the table was slippery) and the new pint glass was wet which could have resulted in the glass sliding off of the surface – especially as the glass isn’t very far from the edge.

We also don’t know if the pub is on a slight hill or if the table was sloped/wobbly, Mark says that it isn’t, but we’re not quite ready just to accept that as a fact because people do tend to over exaggerate in such stories to make things seem a bit stranger than they actually are.

Another cause could be trickery, and numerous people have commented that the person sitting at the back of the room, to the right  in the video happens to move their hand just as the glass falls. This could be a coincidence and to make a fake ghost video people normally need to have a motive.

Enter ‘Gloucester Ghost Walks’ run by the ‘Gloucester Active Paranormal Society’ who have been conducting paranormal investigations at the premises in question for a while. In fact, a member of the team was actually in the bar when the glass fell off of the table. They also charge £25 for a ticket to one of their paranormal events at the pub in question.

We cannot be sure that it is a case of trickery, but this certainly made us rather cynical of the situation and video. Media coverage of this venue, the team and their ghost events would certainly be good for business…

Something like this would be easy to set up with a bit of wire and as it stands it is more likely that this alleged poltergeist is actually just the work of a slippery surface, a wet glass and gravity, or some sneaky tricksters with some wire.

#1 – The Dorset County Museum Ghost

If you have been following BARsoc since we were formed earlier this year then chances are that you knew this would be the case we put in 1st place. It was the first story that we really took to pieces and explored. You can read our entire article on the story here.

It started when this story was featured on the BBC website claiming that:

A group of investigators from Weymouth have released the findings of their investigation into paranormal activity in Dorset County Museum in Dorchester.

They have photos which they believe to be of “hanging” Judge Jeffreys and local fossil collector Mary Anning in the museum’s main hall.

The article also states at one point that the fundraising officer for the museum, Nel Duke, is “unconvinced” that the place is haunted.

The team in question were ‘The P.I.T08’. The first thing that we noticed was that the image featured in the BBC article was heavily cropped. A cropped image provides little context for what it is we are looking at. Realistically it could be anything at all, from an out of focus light, to a drop of water on a sheet of glass. We contacted “The P.I.T.” to ask for the full uncropped version of the image and they kindly obliged.

We showed the photo to most of the members of BARsoc who all reached the same conclusion. The ‘ghost’ was simply an illusion caused by light reflection – the cropped picture used in the newspaper articles simply didn’t show the source of the reflection – it emphasised something that shouldn’t have been emphasised at all.

The images taken that night at the Dorset County Museum, are simply reflections of the camera flash, on a glass fronted display case/mirrored surface. You can clearly see this display case illuminated by the flash, to the north position of the “anomaly”.

We even managed to find other photos that showed the case the camera flash was reflected off, and it wasn’t very hard to do. It would also be safe to presume that people who worked at the museum would know that the display case was there which makes it odd that they would fail to mention this possibility, it may have been an oversight though and we always like to give people the benefit of doubt.

We were told by Steve from the P.I.T that The BBC had contacted the museum after seeing the photos on the P.I.T website and that the museum had then put them in touch with the team. In an email to us he said:

“I can confirm that the P.I.T as a whole do not  state these photos are paranormal and only after trying to prove they where not  did we as a team ‘stamp’ them as ‘possibly paranormal’. As a team we did not go to the press with it and instead quietly released the images on our website for review by its users. The BBC contacted the Museum directly who then gave the story and passed the P.I.Ts details.”

Something didn’t sit quite right with this whole situation, it didn’t make sense to us at BARsoc HQ* that a museum where staff are unconvinced it is haunted would be so keen to get such a story published by the BBC. As far we could tell there was nothing to gain financially other than a slight raise in the number of visitors who might be interested in visiting a haunted location.

However that didn’t seem likely to us after a BARsoc member phoned the museum and they wouldn’t comment about what happened or what activity had been witnessed by staff members, that just didn’t seem right for a place that was happy for news websites to feature the ghost photo taken by a paranormal team and wanted to attract people by using their supposed ghost.

It all clicked into place though about a month after our article on the case was published when Steve, the member of P.I.T that we had been in communication with posted a comment on the article. You could say that ‘the penny dropped’.

The Dorest County Museum are now charging £300 for paranormal teams to enter the building to conduct paranormal investigations to try to find the ghost that was in a photo that the British Anomalistic Research Society showed was actually just an illusion caused by a light reflection.

Yep. You can see why this made the #1 spot on our list.

…and there you have it.

The worst 5 Ghosts in 2010 according to BARsoc. It’s likely that you might have a different ghost related news item in mind that you thought should have made the list, and it was difficult to choose which ones to feature. Why not link to your own bad ghost story as a comment (it has to be a 2010 story).

The one downside to news articles that report ghost stories without any critical thought is that is makes it easy for such avenues of publicity to be abused by those who have something to gain from having a ghost at their premesis.It also makes the paranormal research field look a bit daft, which in all reality, doesn’t need any help in doing so.

Happy new year!

*no really, we have a HQ. Maybe.

A shark in Merseyside? Probably not…

On the 18th December, The Daily Mail reported that a large shark-like creature had been spotted in the Albert Dock of Merseyside.

A man named Simon Hoban had spotted the creature (pictured) on Google Earth saying:

I hope this won’t cause panic but the dock does free swimming sessions.
With temperatures the way they are it’s unlikely that anyone would dare go into the water purposefully anyway, but the question that instantly comes to mind is this,
Is it likely that this is really some sort of a shark in the water? Is there really any need to be worrying people about whether it is safe to go swimming?

Marine biology expert Tom Cornwell said the ‘large object’ could be a basking shark – which can grow to 35ft. He told The Daily Mail:

‘Water creatures have been known to cruise the wrong way up rivers and canals and become stranded, as with the whale on the Thames six years ago. Perhaps it was an old shark which was looking for a place to die.’

Or… perhaps it’s just a small boat turning on the water, causing a wake in the water behind it that gives the illusion of something more sinister?
A Rigid Inflatable Boat (pictured below) would certainly be smaller in size that the boats pictures moored up in the docks, and would certainly be capable of making such a manouver.
It’s also worth taking into consideration that we don’t know when the picture was taken from Google Earth (we can’t check for eye-witnesses or incident reports that may have backed up the shark theory).
Why the newspaper decided a shark would be the best theory for what is pictured is beyond me, but I feel reassured in knowing that the majority of people would have spotted this for the boat it most probably is. Hopefully.
In summary, it’s probably perfectly safe to go into the water in those areas, the only danger is hypothermia.