MJ STEEL COLLINS tracks down five of the most violent Scottish poltergeists who you wouldn’t want to meet on a dark night!
The Mackenzie Poltergeist, Edinburgh
Perhaps one of the longest poltergeist cases in history, this curmudgeonly entity dates back to the late 1990s, to when a homeless man tried to take shelter in the mausoleum of the notorious Lord Advocate George Mackenzie.
The Polt, which lurks within The Black Mausoleum in Covenanters’ Prison, is notorious for apparently attacking people, leaving them with cuts, scratches and even causing folk to collapse. Victims are usually participants in the popular City of the Dead tours, which end inside the Black Mausoleum.
George Mackenzie persecuted the Covenanters with great zeal in the 17th century, and imprisoned several hundred in Covenanter’s Prison, where several died and were buried on the spot. The fact that Mackenzie was laid to rest mere yards from the Prison is thought to be one reason behind the Poltergeist – the close proximity of Mackenzie to those he persecuted giving rise to an uneasy energy.
The Rerrick Poltergeist, Dumfries and Galloway
A renowned historic case, the Rerrick Poltergeist caused all sorts of chaos to the Mackie family living in a small farm, The Ringcroft of Stocking, just outside the village of Rerrick, known today as Auchencairn.
Between February and May 1695, the Mackies and the community waged a battle of wits against an entity that tied a cow to the rafters of the barn, partook in stone throwing (lithobolia), beat the children, set various fires, whistled and clucked.
Witchcraft was suspected after a strange package containing bones and flesh was discovered by Mrs Mackie under a flagstone. It all died down after a black entity was sighted in the barn.
The Glenburn Poltergeist, Paisley
In 1977, a teenage boy and his mother were terrorised by an unseen thing in their small home in Glenburn Road, Paisley. It started when the 13 year old lad, Alan A, was disturbed by the sound of marching coming from the attic above his room at 11.30 pm one night.
The bizarre noises continued, to the extent that Alan and his mother fled to the local minister, who didn’t believe them. The family took to sleeping in the living room.
One night, Alan’s friends stayed to see the phenomenon for themselves, and were left terrified, one boy fleeing, only for the door handle to come loose in his hands. As with most poltergeists, it soon died down.
A full account of the Glenburn Poltergeist can be read here.
Sandwood Bay Visitor, Edinburgh
This particular poltergeist seems to have been a visitor to Auld Reekie from Scotland’s most north westerly point, Sandwood Bay in Sutherland, notorious for a variety of sailor spooks. Sitting by the beach is the now ruined, and haunted, Sandwood Bay Cottage.
For some reason, a woman who had never visited the area, was sent a splinter of wood from the cottage’s banister, leading to some terrifying phenomena in both her homes in Edinburgh and London, where plates would go flying.
It was Edinburgh that the majority of activity occurred, later recounted to Peter Underwood by letter. The lady smelt strong pipe tobacco and also saw the apparition of a sailor sitting in her arm chair. The splinter of wood also had a habit of moving by itself. Activity calmed down once she locked the splinter in a drawer.
The Barlornock Poltergiest, Glasgow
A contemporary of the better known Enfield case, this particular Polt caused a great stushie in the 1970s in Glasgow North. It involved two families, who had never seen eye to eye, living in a small block of flats – the Grieve family, with two teenage boys lived in the top flat, whilst the Keenans lived in the flat below. Things kicked off late on 3 November 1974, when the Grieve boys, Derek, 14, and Jeffrey, 11, were awoken by thumping noises. Moving to their parents’ room didn’t allow the boys any peace as the racket continued.
The Grieves believed that the Keenans were playing a practical joke, but the intervention of the police failed to stop the noise. Things escalated from there. Ornaments levitated, the entity beat the rhythm of Handel’s “The Death March”, Mrs Grieve was contacted by what claimed to be the spirits of dead miners and the boys developed superhuman strength. The energy followed them to school and to the home of relatives.
The centre of it appeared to be Derek, who was frustrated at school, but it calmed down once he left and obtained work as an apprentice electrician. The case was extensive and complex, involving police, housing officials and Glasgow’s ‘Ghostbuster’, Professor Archie Roy.
For more info on terrifying Scottish Poltergeists, check out Poltergeist Over Scotland by Geoff Holder.