Paranormal activity….

David Livingstone Centre - Ghost Hunt.I want to believe that there’s something out there, something supernatural that cannot be explained rationally. Thing is, I have seen something like that, which I’ll talk about a bit later. Why aren’t there spirits, ghosts, poltergeists – whatever you want to call them – hanging out in the ‘real’ world? I just want to be convinced.

Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved to be scared. I remember watching films like The Omen, Salem’s Lot and American Werewolf in London, and being scared witless – I’d sleep with the lights on for weeks afterwards. And yet I was compelled to watch more. More recently, The Blair Witch Project, Ring and The Descent have all had pretty much the same effect.

So how can someone like me combine their desire to believe with the compulsion to be utterly terrified? Well, when Lanarkshire Paranormal invited Scottish Field to join them on one of their investigations, the answer became obvious – a ghost hunt, of course.

Lanarkshire Paranormal (Steff Murdoch-Richards, Janice Murdoch-Richards, Debbie Murdoch, Alex Kelly and Mark Adams) is a team of dedicated paranormal researchers with over 16 years’ experience in investigating the truth behind unexplained sightings and happenings.

David Livingstone Centre - Ghost Hunt.

They have arranged and coordinated a range of investigations at some of Scotland’s most ‘haunted’ sites, using the latest hi-tech equipment. Check out the website for the most interesting findings from some of their most exciting investigations. Lanarkshire Paranormal is also a non-profit organisation – they support a range of nationwide charities.

Earlier this year a team from Scottish Field was invited to join Lanarkshire Paranormal in an investigation at the David Livingstone Centre in Blantyre, South Lanarkshire. Set in 20 acres of parkland and gardens overlooking the River Clyde, this National Trust for Scotland managed birthplace museum is housed in a tenement that the celebrated explorer shared with 23 other families.

The building is supposedly haunted by the ghosts of the many children who used to live here, as well as a dark, malevolent spirit, who lurks in the darkest recesses. All-in-all it sounded like a Saturday night fright-fest not to be missed.

Well, that’s how I felt – the other members of team Scottish Field were less keen. Indeed, the more they read about the encounters witnessed on previous Lanarkshire Paranormal investigations, the more their excited anticipation became trepidation. Too late to back out now, I reminded them.

We arrived around seven o’clock (investigations normally begin at 9pm but we arrived early to get some photographs taken), and were met by Janice and Debbie from Lanarkshire Paranormal. They’d been there for a couple of hours, installing all of their gadgetry – cameras, recording equipment and TV monitors – ready for the night ahead.

It has to be said that two things went against us from the start. First, because it was still summer time, it took a while for the place to get dark. Secondly, because we were in a working museum there were a number of internal lights, so it was never completely dark – this certainly had an effect on the atmosphere.

Having said that, the area we spent most of the time in – a long corridor of display cabinets on the first floor – was dark enough. Lanarkshire Paranormal had been to the Centre on a previous occasion and had experienced some very creepy stuff, so they were confident that there’d be some activity.

I was certainly ready for it. As I said earlier, I have also experienced a phenomenon I cannot explain. It was around Christmas time a couple of years ago at my house in the Borders. As I was coming downstairs I saw my Dad – who was up visiting – enter the kitchen.

I walked into the kitchen, starting up a conversation as I did so – but there was no-one there. My Dad was actually two rooms away, along with everybody else in the house. I wasn’t scared because all of the lights were on and I was expecting to see my Dad. I was just baffled, and to this day I cannot explain it. So I know that there could be something out there.

Of course in the dark, and with your senses tingling with anticipation, the likelihood to see or hear something out of the ordinary must be heightened a thousand times. However, to be perfectly frank we didn’t see anything, or hear anything – bar the odd knocking and clanking noises – that could really convince us that there were supernatural forces at work.

The team from Lanarkshire Paranormal are used to this sort of thing, of course. As Steff – manager and co-founder – conceded, sometimes you do have a quiet night. It didn’t help that our group also contained some sceptics who, and they admitted this later, didn’t take things too seriously.

David Livingstone Centre - Ghost Hunt.Scepticism is fine – indeed paranormal investigators are sceptics; their job is to weed out the phenomena that can be explained from those that cannot, what are known as anomalies.

But as the night wore on, as everybody became increasingly tired and frustrated, the paranormal well almost dried up completely.

To be fair to the guys from Lanarkshire Paranormal, they patiently persevered, and took us into various rooms, arming us with infrared pen-style thermometers to check for cold spots and relentlessly taking pictures with their phones – each shot preceded by a warning of ‘Flash!’ to cover our eyes.

A number of other techniques were employed to bring out the spirits, from asking them politely to make a noise, to goading them into scaring us – all to no avail. For us, that was. For the Lanarkshire Paranormal team it was a different story altogether.

They experienced a number of weird and wonderful things – including the sound of footsteps and the rattling of a chain, and the form of a small child in the doorway of the schoolroom. Debbie also felt the presence of the dark, menacing entity for a large portion of the evening – why it had attached itself to her I’m not sure, but she had a torrid time.

The area in which we were offered some glimpse of tangible evidence of the paranormal was in the control room, where TV screens were constantly relaying images from four night vision cameras that were positioned in various rooms in the Centre.

At various points during the night, a small spherical light would suddenly drift into view and then disappear – an orb. Orbs were also captured on some of the hundreds of camera phone images taken during the course of the night.

There are several explanations for orbs. In many cases they are merely flecks of dust caught in the lights; though these can usually be detected by an experienced investigator. Orbs can also, it is believed, be small balls of energy, or ghosts in the form of light – spirits that haven’t moved on for whatever reason.

We all saw them, as well as other light anomalies – mainly picked up on the camera phone images. We each had our own theories but the sceptics remained sceptical and I remained unconvinced, but my mind remained open.

Perhaps in a darker and spookier setting – one of Scotland’s many castles would fit the bill – and with a group of people more willing to enter into the ‘spirit’ of the occasion, I would experience more. Either way, I would recommend a night of ghost-hunting with Lanarkshire Paranormal…

…because you never know, there could be something out there.

Lanarkshire Paranormal, forthcoming investigations: 30 November – Craufurdland Castle, Kilmarnock; 1 March 2014 – Plane Castle, Stirling; 26 April 2014 – Castle Menzies, Perth. All 9pm-3am, £30 per person. Tel: 07792 559699,

Author: Tim Siddons


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