Archive for the ‘Unusual Findings’ Category

The castle is an hours drive from Lviv, Ukraine, and is closed at present but it is due to be opened as a museum and will no doubt make a great tourist spot.

It was built in 1625-1640 for the elite and royal families and has been a functioning residence for many centuries but sadly is left in a poor state now. It is in the shape of a square with five pentagonal bastions on the corners and has seen modifications to its designed. It was proven to be a well functioning fortress on more than one occasion and during WWI was captured by the Russians, they looted the precious items but did not destroy the building.

In 1939 Prince Sangusko packed up most of the valuables and went to Romania, anticipating another bout of looting and interior destruction. After WW2 the castle was used as a TB Sanatorium. In February 1956 the castle was nearly burnt down completely. The fire that broke out lasted three weeks, only the walls remained and an extreme bill of $12 million worth of damages. In 1997 it was purchased by the Lviv gallery of painting and opened as a museum.

When the Ukraine gained independence from the Soviet Union the castle was to be used as a presidential residence but it never came to pass. Now the Lviv gallery of arts, and lack of funds, have slowed down their renovations with plans to give it a more historical look on a future project.

There is a ghostly take attached to Pidhirsti Castle, Waclaw Rzewusky dwelled there from 1720-1779 and the rumour is that he murdered his wife by burying her alive in the walls of the castle. This was due to jealously and may be the woman in white seen by many witnesses.

Ghost Hunters International went to look into the rumours at the castle. Ukranian TV show Psychic Challenge also went there, they concluded it was haunted. GHI stated that they were confident that ghosts resided pretty much throughout the place.

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England’s history for a small island is quite varied and bloodied, there are lots of ghostly tales but as a result of the Royal Commissions probe the Public Record Office gave Edgehill the official recognition of having paranormal activity.

23rd October 1662 was the first fight of the English Civil War, Royalist troops were marching to London to support the King but they were intercepted by Parliamentarian troops at Edgehill. Edgehill lies between Banbury and Warwick and the fight went on for three hours with casualties on both sides. The fighting proved to do very little, both sides saw death, the Parliamentarian troops went to Warwick Castle and the Royalists then did not venture on to London. It was a senseless death score for both sides in pretty much every regard.

Even after the smoke and bodies had cleared the battle raged on. Only a few weeks afterwards reports came in about how the terrible scene kept being regularly re-enacted. King Charles 1 was so intrigued by the reports he sent out a Royal Commission to investigate it. They witnessed the events and were able to point out faces in the crowds, including the King’s Standard bearer, Sir Edmund Verney. Slowly the frequency of replays died down until they eventually stopped altogether.

Incidentally Verny’s story does not end there, during the battle he refused to give up his role and the Parliamentarian’s cut off his hands that gripped on the standard. His hands were later identified due to a ring he wore, it bore the resemblance of the king. His hands were then returned to his home, Clayton House, for burial.

Since then Verney is said to be seen around the house, his body was never recovered from the Edgehill Battlefield and so it seems he might be trying to find a way to get himself back together one day, as he cannot rest as he is.

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GHOSTS OF EDGEHILL

I thought I would pick some folklore/stories from the Caribbean for this blog. To be fair I believe most of the good stuff would be local legend and I’ve not ben lucky enough to get to that side of the world so armchair investigations will be my guide for this… feel free to correct anything I get wrong as always.

The first one is Papa Bois who is pretty much thought of as the keeper of the forest, a protector of them and the enclosed flora and fauna. She is said to be married to the Mama Dlo, a water entity. His appearance is thought to be a short, old man of African descent and he has cloven hooves, or possibly in some notations his left leg ends in a large hoof. He has a beard of leaves and despite his age is very strong and can run faster than a deer.

Papa Bois’ body is completely covered with hair like that of a donkey, he has small horns that sprout from his forehead and is know to carry out a hollowed-out bulls’ horn so he can use that to warn animals when hunters approach. He is said to have the power of metamorphoses and most often uses this to transform into a deer, he then lures hunters deeper into the forest to get them lost. This is much like his wife, Mama Dlo, who does the same to sailors.

Should you meet Papa Bois you must be polite and refrain from staring at his hooves. Say something nice like “good day old father” an ensure that you don’t do anything to upset him. He is also found in Grenadian folklore and represented as a huge Opossum. Hunters of the forest are afraid of him because of the tricks he uses.

My second choice is La Diablesse, a female devil, who was born as a human but her malicious shape-shifting spirit was born of her dealings with the devil. She can appear very beautiful but her hideous face is hidden by a large brimmed hat, and she wears long dresses to hide the fact that one leg ends with a hoof, she often walks with her human foot on the road and her hooved road in the grass at the roadside. She can cast spells on unsuspecting male victims, then leads them into the forest with promises of sexual acts but then she will disappear leaving him lost and confused. In a panic the victim runs around the forest until he meets his death by falling down a ravine or drowning in a river.

My third choice was Lagahoo, this folklore comes from Trinidad and Tobago (usually considered part of the Caribbean) and is the equivalent in cousin to the French loup-garou and or German werewolf, though not restricted to the form of a wolf. It is a normal human during the day with no head and at night roams around with a wooden coffin on its neck. On the coffin there are three lighted candles, the long loose end of a heavy iron chain is noosed around the waist and trails behind. Often it can be seen with chains around its neck which change in side and at times with one of the appendages turned backwards.

Legahoo can change into various animals too, like horses, pigs or goats and on occasion is even a centaur. It is thought to be a blood sucker, which is less particular than vampires about its food source as it will feed from animals like cows and goats. To kill a Legahoo you need to beat it with a stick that has been anointed with holy water and holy oil for nine days. When you beat the creature it will change into others, then waves of water until finally it disappears in a mist.

My final choice is that of the Soucouyant, it is also known as the Ole-Higue or Loogaroo and is a blood sucking hag. She appears as a reclusive old woman in the day and then at night she strips off her wrinkled skin and puts it in a mortar. In her true form, a fireball, she flies across the dark skies in search of a victim. She can enter the home of a victim through small holes like cracks, crevices and keyholes.

The Soucouyant takes the blood from arms, legs and soft parts whilst the victim is sleeping and leaves blue-black marks that are seen in the morning. If they draw too much blood then the victim will either die or become one themselves. The creature also practices witchcraft, voodoo and black magic. They trade their victim’s souls for evil powers with the Bazil, the demon who resides in the silk cotton tree.

If you want to expose one you need to heap rice around the house or at the village crossroads, as the creature will be obliged to gather every grain and can be caught in the act as she tries to do so. To destroy her, coarse salt must be placed in the mortar that has her skin so she perishes because she cannot put it back on. The skin of the Soucouyant is very valuable as it us used in the practice of black magic.

She is part of a class of spirits called jumbies, and some say that they may well have been brought over by the European countries and so the French vampire-myths intermingled with those of enslaved Africans.

Papa_Bois-0

The earliest guess for the beginnings of the catacombs in the Ukraine is about the 1600’s. It could be earlier than that but it’s hard to date back as they were also widened later on. They became the giant labyrinth of today when in the early 1800’s the limestone was used from them to build much of the city.

The myriad of tunnels led to it being popular for hideouts, rebels and criminals could use them and during WWII they Soviets were forced out, but were able to leave Soviet-organised Ukranian’s hidden down there. They were able to listen in to the Nazi forces above and set up a situation where they managed to blow up German facilities. It wasn’t all good news as malaria and malnutrition affected those men and women.

The Facist German and Romanians chose random exits, sealing them off and and dropping poisonous gasses down them. When the war was over the criminals claimed the tunnels and created new ones of their own. In 1961 a group was formed, they wanted to map and document the geography and history of the place.

It is common for groups of explorers to go into the area, occasionally people do go missing and if they are in the area the explorers will rally to help. A number of children have been rescued this way but sadly it hasn’t always turned out positive. Old weapon caches and grenades are sometimes found, every five years or so a body is found and on rare occasions they have been naturally mummified there too. Many are old bodies but sometimes more recent accidents have turned up a corpse as well.

A sad example of this occurred 15th January 2005, the local teens were partying in the tunnels. A girl called Masha was separated and lost during the drunken celebrations. For 3 days she walked around in the pitch black and freezing conditions, where she then expired due to dehydration. It was two years later the police located her body and could retrieve it.

There is an official area that can be visited and perhaps given the warnings of lost people and random body finds, I’d recommend going there before being too bold.

Odessa kat 01.jpg
By Полищук Денис Анатольевич – Own work, CC BY 2.5, Link

 

It’s a famous media broadcast now, it’s also a very gripping thing to listen to as well. The original book is a work by H G Wells that started life as a serialisation by the English author.

The Martians have been plotting an invasion to Earth that’s to their own diminishing resources. In the book the events of the invasion are set in motion in Woking, Surrey but Orson Welles transfers them to America. Wells no doubt picked his location as it was local and he knew how to describe things with familiarity and if you pop over to Woking at any point you can locate a 23 feet high sculpture of a tripod fighting machine, ‘The Martian’ near the local railway station.

I’m not going into the plot, the reviews or such like but it is worthy of note because of films and of course the above-mentioned broadcast. That’s the bit I am going to look at it here for now.

George Orson Welles, 6th May 1915 to 10th October 1985 was involved in the business of entertainment and is famous for the film Citizen Kane, 1941 amongst other things but this is a blog for weird and interesting things, and I’ve picked out the 1938 broadcast of the War of the Worlds which, supposedly, sent thousands of American people into a mass panic about the alien invasions in their home states…

CBS radio invited Orson Welles to create a summer show that would last 13 weeks, the series began 11th July 1938 and the adaptation for H G Wells book aired 30th October 1938. It brought Orson Welles instant fame, the broadcast itself really is worth a listen to and you can sit back and appreciate it yourself if you wish.

There was supposedly a mass panic from people convinced of its validity, that aliens truly landed and it’s this bit I am looking at, were people really panicking so much that they would run from their homes in masses?

1.7 million listened to the broadcast and polls calculated that 1.2 million ‘were excited’ and mostly the reports seem to have been anecdotal. Cantril interviewed 135 people who cited some colourful claims about grabbing guns or packing up in a panic. It would hardly have been unusual for a busy area to have fast moving traffic and other rambunctious behaviours at the time so this was not entirely unexpected. Grovers Mill, New Jersey was not blasted by alien lasers or any such thing but the media took the story of the panic and without looking at data it might even be assumed claims of heart attacks and suicides were another effect but again, there was not noticeable shows in the data to support this. Miller countered Cantril’s claims and just did not seem to match up to the 1 million plus listeners.

American Telephone Company figures suggested a 40% rise in calls, again however, they did not lead to anything specific and it was just a higher record in some parts of New Jersey.

He also mentions that there is a notable other broadcast with the results of frightening some listeners, 31st October 1974 at Rhode Island, and one in Northern Portugal 1988 but they were not reported to on the same level. The same sort of thing appears in a 2010 publication by W Joseph Campbell and Slate.com, they in turn also look at media myths or fake news and include the press reports of the panic-stricken US citizens.

31st October, 1938 Daily News of New York’s front page encapsulates the news with the title “FAKE RADIO ‘WAR’ STIRS TERROR THROUGH U.S’. The New York Times gave us ‘Radio Listeners in Panic, Taking War Drama as Fact.’  The Detroit News went with ‘War Skit on Radio Terrifies Nation’ and The Boston Daily Globes ran with ‘RADIO PLAY TERRIFIES NATION’.

But was all of this remotely correct or fake news? Well in short, no, CE Hopper Company did the 2% response to people listening to it because most people were listening to NBC. The poll was conducted for 5000 people, so 100 people of 5000 were listening? Frank Stanton of CBS also said they were never censored for it because most people hadn’t even heard the show.

6 weeks after the broadcast it was admitted to, the figures were largely skewed and descriptions like disturbed or excited were inflated to ‘panic’. It did get enough hype that Adolf Hitler cited the panic as ‘evidence of the decadence and corrupt condition of democracy’.

So why?

Well in short radio was being seen as a threat to newspapers, they could use a few isolated cases as a way to make it sounds like these types of shows were an example of this terrible new media being irresponsible and untrustworthy. The Telegraph (UK paper) says that a woman tried to sue CBS for $50,000 thank to nervous shock but it was dismissed and a man tried to claim for shows as he’d spent that money on a train ticket, Welles was said to have paid for those.

There was indeed action taken that night, the police came to the station and one minute from the end of the show they were trying to shut it down. It played out and as a result Paul White, the head of CBS News, was summoned over. Welles found out later and was convinced it would end his career, but it didn’t.

Some listeners had turned in part way through and this seems to be where the reports started. Again, though it was very much a case of over-exaggeration and it does also seem that the repeated broadcasts about it being fictional could have fallen to few ears, a case of a small audience from the previous show affecting it too.

Let’s also put this into context, at the time a German Invasion was a possibility, rumblings of the inevitable war were a reality and was it so hard to imagine those who were affected and lured in part way through might have thought it was something to do with that?

Hadley Cantril calculated a 6 million strong audience, but it was then 1.7 million later on and yet this calculation seems flawed. He had doubled the usual audience and had tried to work on the idea not ever listener had a phone too. He summarised many reactions into panicked and yet quite a number had thought it was more of a prank than a reality.

No admissions for shock were made at Newark Hospital at that time, and there were no spikes in admission at New York either. Washington Post claimed a man died from a heart attack but the claim was not verified and Snopes also places this as mostly false.

So here is my summary – firstly its put Grovers Mill on the map for tourists like me who enjoy a bit of quirky history, radio hasn’t been stopped by the papers and vice-versa. I am quite sure we can safely say the average U.S citizen would have noticed laser space blasting Martians at the time and I, for one, love the broadcast. Thank you, H G Wells and Orson Welles, you gave me a great piece of history to look back on (and no I don’t rate the latest War of the Worlds film if you were wondering.)

Refs:

Robert E Bartholomew, Little Green Men, Meowing Nuns and Head-Hunting Panics

Snopes

Wikipedia

Telegraph.co.uk

Google Books

Project Gutenburg

Slate.com