Scottish author GREGOR STEWART reveals why he has began collecting haunted dolls – like Cyril the Haunted Doll – and other possessed artefacts!
The theory that items could have spirit attachments is something that has always interested me, however, it was not until the release of my book, Haunted Kirkcaldy in 2014, that I took my first steps into ownership of such items.
I was being invited to do a number of talks on the paranormal, and I was looking for something physical that I could use for these.
Essentially, I was looking for a prop, a conversation piece that people could touch and examine, not an easy thing when talking about ghosts.
That was when I decided to source a haunted Item.
After several weeks of searching online, I found a doll called Tiny Tim, which seemed ideal.
He was dressed in a tartan suit, and came with a back-story surrounding the reason he was said to be haunted.
He had been passed to the current owner by their grandmother, who was a spiritual person who took ownership of items people wanted rid of due to reports of them causing paranormal activity.
Over the years she had gathered a small collection of items, which she had spent a considerable amount of time researching.
‘My haunted doll gave local girl nightmares’
Tim had been handed to a local reverend by the parents of his previous owner, with reports that it had originally been purchased second hand at a market for their daughter.
She almost immediately began to suffer from nightmares and claimed that the doll was following her and was switching lights on and off, something that her parents initially discounted, but when their daughter fell from a tree and blamed Tim, they decided there may be something to the stories and that it was time to dispose of the doll.
Not knowing what the best way to do so, they handed it into the Reverend at the local church, who in turn handed it on.
The research carried out indicated that the doll had the attachment of the spirit of a young boy named Tim, who had tragically died falling from a tree.
He had not meant any harm in pushing the girl from the tree, he was just trying to stop her from climbing it, fearful that what happened to him may have happened to her.
‘…the most visible sign (of the haunted doll) was what looked like oozing blood from his eyes’
Tim was, however, also described to have an angry side to him, causing plates to fall and smash and doors to slam, and possibly the most visible sign was what looked like blood oozing from his eyes, as though they were tears.
With work, the spirit had been calmed, and was now reported to rarely have violent outbursts.
Being an open-minded sceptic, the story behind the alleged haunting was important to me, and I wanted to make some checks, including the best way to store such an item, before taking ownership.
Unfortunately, while I did so, someone else stepped in and took him.
I was disappointed at the time, but quickly found another doll, named Cyril, a porcelain jester who looked like quite a character.
Again he had the all-important back story, he had come from a building that was formerly an inn and coach house, before being converted to a house, owned by a relative of the current owner, who had been left with the majority of the estate after their relatives death.
She reported that the doll had been in the house as long as she could remember, and she never liked it. After she took it to her own house, she was sure the doll was moving about at night and laughing at her.
She heard of a group of local clairvoyants, and they offered to take the doll.
They studied it for several months, and determined it had the spirit of a man attached to it.
He was said to be a Drayman, a driver of a flat bed wagon pulled by horses, which would tie in with the former use of the house the doll came from.
He said he had been attached to the doll for a very long time, but seemed confused and sometimes angry about why he was attached.
The clairvoyants also experienced the doll moving and laughing, as well as causing people to feel nauseous and releasing a foul odour.
Having already completed a lot of research around Tim, I was ready to move quickly, and managed to secure Cyril. Bizarrely, several months later, I was contacted again about Tim.
He was again available, I never did quite find out whether the person who had got him while I was doing research had not collected him, or had returned him (and if so, why), but it felt like fate so I agreed to take him.
I had already started to do some work with Cyril, and he seemed to activate Electro Magnetic Field (EMF) meters, but I was not getting any recorded responses from him.
Tim on the other hand was providing almost no activity, although I was advised that he is more active in the presence of younger children, a group that I will not work with when the haunted items are around.
I took them along to some talks, and while Tim attracted a lot of ‘ahhhs’ and people feeling sorry for him, Cyril got everyone’s attention. I made a point of warning people that Cyril may affect them, without giving specifics, and allowing anyone who wanted to hold him to do so, and it is interesting how many people experience the same things as others have on previous occasions.
Nausea is the most common.
On one occasion, almost the entire audience experienced it, yet it passed almost immediately after I put Cyril back in the glass case I keep him in.
I have only been effected once myself in this way.
I was preparing to go to give a talk and I was holding Cyril while I packed some other items, and a sudden feeling of sickness struck that was so bad I contemplated cancelling the talk as I didn’t think I would be up to it.
From my knowledge of the doll, I asked that if it was him, could he take it off me, and I quickly recovered!
Testing Cyril the Haunted Doll
One interesting trial I did with Cyril was with a meter that operates similar to an EMF meter, but also offers a communication mode.
The meter audibly scrolls through various frequencies, until it detects an interference, when it falls silent.
At this point, you are able to ask Yes/No answers, and the spirit that is causing the interference is believed to be able to manipulate the needle on the meter to respond.
I asked Cyril a series of questions, asking him to respond by moving the needle once for yes, and twice for no.
I then repeated the questions, asking him to respond with twice for yes, once for no, and it is notable that all but one of the answers received the same response, eliminating almost any possibility that the meter was responding at random.
The only question where there was a difference in the response was whether he is angry and, going back to the initial information I was given about him, it would seem that differing answers for this would not be unexpected.
I’m now collecting other haunted items
Since taking ownership of these two dolls, I have started to gather other items.
I now also own lead musket balls, found on a battlefield, which give people a feeling of sadness when held, the infamous cursed painting,
The Crying Boy, a vintage musical carousel which comes with reports of making people feel uncomfortable, even unwell, when around it and a general sense of foreboding, as well as sometimes playing, even though the clockwork mechanism is broken and cannot be wound any more.
I also recently bought an antique African wood carving at an antiques centre that I recognised as a style associated with Voodoo magic, along with an unusual carved figure with what appears to be a sealed compartment.
Both were purchased without any known history, but both seem quite active.
I intend to continue to build on my collection, both through sourcing items being offered by other collectors, and also through removing items that concerned owners want rid of, with my main aim being to continue to research these interesting items.