Spooky Isles’ Scotland Editor MJ STEEL COLLINS takes a look at Supernatural St Andrews by Gregor Stewart
Writer and paranormal investigator, Gregor Stewart, has contributed to Spooky Isles on a number of occasions. He has written several books, including novels and works on the paranormal, Supernatural St Andrews being the latest. It’s a book that has been twenty years in the making, as Gregor mentions at the end, from gathering the tales and compiling it into a manuscript.
Supernatural St Andrews is a sterling read. Gregor grew up in the town, and heard plenty of the tales he recounts as a child. This gives the book a personal touch, and this, along with the in depth research he has put into uncovering each story, gives it that wee bit extra depth, which you might not get in other books of this kind.
St Andrews, at a glance, seems like any other medium sized town in Scotland. The difference lies in its long and rather colourful history as a religious centre, and the fact that its home to St Andrew’s University, established sometime between 1410 and 1413. It definitely has the ghostly folklore to match, much of which, unsurprisingly, is closely tied in with the now ruined St Andrews Cathedral and the University.
Edinburgh is easily Scotland’s most haunted city, and it’s perhaps the case that St Andrews is the country’s most haunted town. Looking at the maps Gregor has included in the book and the various legends attached to the places marked in those maps, there doesn’t seem to be anywhere that doesn’t have a ghost story. Something walks in Links House, the club house for St Andrews Golf Club, whilst there is the case of the White Lady attached to Haunted Tower in the Cathedral grounds.
Locals avoid the Nun’s Walk by the Pends, near St Leonard’s school, lest they meet the terrifying spectre of the self mutilated nun that presumably gave the lane its name. Then there is the apparition of the malign Archbishop Sharp’s coach rumbling at the end of the Pends, perhaps being escorted to hell by Auld Nick himself. One particular tale that may prick the ears of Doctor Who fans is that of the Angel in the Eastern Cemetery, whose statue has apparently been seen moving around the cemetery at night. Makes you wonder where Steven Moffat got the idea for the Weeping Angels…
There are lots more tales to be found in the book. What is impressive is the research Gregor has put into them, looking through newspaper archives and visiting the sites. The work put into the coffins uncovered in a secret chamber within The Haunted Tower is of particular note. For anyone going ghost hunting in St Andrews, this is without a doubt the book to take.