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Ghost-hunters want city to cash in on its spooky past

By Helen Aird

Highland Paranormal Group members at the Old High Church. Left to right, Liam Shand, Gary Davies and Debs MacIver.
Highland Paranormal Group members at the Old High Church. Left to right, Liam Shand, Gary Davies and Debs MacIver.

INVESTIGATORS who probe ghostly goings-on want to put Inverness on the paranormal map.

As part of The Inverness Courier’s campaign to reinvent the city centre, the Highland Paranormal Group say the city should be making more of its ghost stories and folklore.

From The Black Friar who haunts the BT building in Friars Lane, The Girl in the Mirror at Balnain House and The Green Lady of Eden Court Theatre, to Willie The Carse, Inverness’s own bogey man, the witches of Millburn and the fairies of Tomnahurich, not to mention the ghosts of Culloden Moor, Inverness has a rich paranormal history which the groups says is not well reported.

A website dedicated to Haunted Inverness, including an interactive map of the city centre, is one idea being explored by the not-for-profit group made up of volunteers.

But its co-founder and lead investigator Liam Shand sees no reason why ghost tours in the centre could not become a regular feature — previous tours featuring Inverness Castle have fizzled out.

"We really want to put Inverness on the paranormal map," he said.

"It has done Edinburgh no harm, and although we are never going to compete with the likes of Edinburgh, there are lots of stories out there and various sites across the city centre that are reported to be haunted. We really want to reach out to people and share more of the stories."

And he thinks there is potential for a regular ghost tour in the city if someone wanted to take it on.

"It would keep tourists in the city centre and hopefully they would then use the restaurants, bars and cafes," he said.

"I think we could put together quite an interactive tour, with some of the haunted locations and stories behind them."

The Highland Paranormal Group has more than 5000 friends on Facebook –including many from overseas – despite forming just three years ago.

"We are only just scratching the surface of Inverness at the moment," Mr Shand continued. "There is huge interest in the paranormal and it is something we could be building on."

Inverness's top ten haunted locations compiled by Highland Paranormal with help from Inverness When You Were a Kid and Eerie Highland & Islands Facebook groups.

1) Craig Dunain Hospital and Grounds – The hospital was one of the oldest established Victorian psychiatric hospitals in Scotland, with the main building completed in 1864. It closed in 2000 but it is said that the ghosts of former patients still frequent the building. When the woods were investigated by the group in 2010, a dark figure was seen by several of the team moving through the hospital graveyard and also the distinct smell of cigar smoke.

2)Eden Court Theatre – The Green Lady is without question one of the city's most famous ghosts and has been seen on many occasions. An usher reported being yanked backwards by her shirt collar, even though she was alone! The ghost of a small girl is also said to have been seen in the grounds of the theatre and a priest who is said to have murdered his family. It is very possible that all three spirits are connected and are grounded by the tragic real life events.

3)Ness Islands – Investigated in 2012 ahead of Highland Council's annual Halloween event, the Islands provided the team with some of its most interesting phenomena to date. The apparent spirit here played havoc with the group's equipment, causing battery drain and causing static interference on one of the cameras. It also appeared happy to communicate via a electromagnetic field device. Balls of light and the very strong smell of decay were also noted. The image of a lady lying across the footpath and a man of the church were also noted by the team's resident medium.

4) Hilton Hospital – The former hospital and poor house have had many reports of grey lady stalking the building. Many people have felt an uneasy presence at the location. Who the lady could be, is still a mystery.

5)Clachnaharry Inn – With reports of mystery footsteps being heard from the disused upstairs and a general feeling of being uneasy, the team investigated the property in early 2013. The location didn't disappoint and the team were able to communicate with the ghost of a former inn keeper, Donald Forbes. Several interesting audio recordings were also made, one of which appeared to be the sound of female whimpering!

6) Telephone Exchange - The small Greyfriars graveyard is located on Friar's Street in Inverness and is all that survives of the Dominican friary founded in 1233 by Black Friars and dissolved in 1542. The graveyard today is dwarfed by the large telephone exchange building, where it is said the ghost of a Black Friar can be seen. However some believe the ghost to be that of a lady in black and there has been numerous sightings of her by exchange staff of her on the top floor of the building.

7) Old High Church Graveyard - The current Old High Church sits on possibly one of the oldest religious sites in Inverness. The church was used as a prison after the Battle of Culloden and many Jacobites were executed in the graveyard with the evidence of musket shots still being visible on a gravestone today. Moving forward to the present day, it is the sound of children singing nursery rhymes that has been most reported.

8)49-51 Church Street – The ghost of a former worker is said to have been seen moving through the basement of this building. Investigated by the team on several occasions the gentlemen in question is thought to have worked in the building when it was a wine merchants.

9) Falcon Square – Blown light bulbs and fuses are all blamed on the ghost of a former worker on the site of the former foundry building. There have also been reports of doors opening and closing.

10) The River Ness – King Duncan's ghost is said to walk the banks of the river beneath the castle and a white lady has been seen washing her hands in the river. Through the centuries the river has seen much tragedy with many illegitimate babies and even so called witches drowned in it's waters.

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