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House In The Orkneys


This is an account of various occurrences that took place at a converted Croft house on the island of Sanday in the Orkney isles.

It was at the beginning of February 2009 and a very cold snowy day when we moved to the small rented cottage on Sanday. We hadn't seen the house before hand, which in hindsight was a mistake, as the house was in an extremely poor state of repair, with sagging roof timbers, damp walls, old electrics and a dirty dated kitchen. The only source of heating was via a coal fire in the living room and three old 1970s heating panels. But the rent was next to nothing and it was the only empty place we could find at that time.

My husband and I took the bedroom at the front of the house, it was the only one without any heating other than a coal fire that we quickly discovered you couldn't use. The warmest bedroom on the front of the house was temporally shared by our two sons then aged 13 and 11, the small bedroom at the back of the house eventually became the older son's room once we had installed a small modern halogen heater. This room was next to the kitchen and was separated from the main house by a corridor. It was an extension built around the 1930s, thus isolating it from the rest of the house, but my older son liked the privacy it gave him.

At first nothing out of the ordinary happened, we were busy settling in. The first summer came and went. It grew cold again and the long dark nights drew in. One morning my eldest son came out from the shared front bedroom (this was before he moved into the back bedroom) and said he had woken in the night to see a person standing at the bottom of their bed. He thought it was me just checking up on them as I sometimes did, and had ignored it and gone back to sleep. I definitely had not gone in to check on them and their dad never had done it. I just wrote it off has a dream he had had. He wasn't worried about it, and my younger son had not mentioned anything.

A few weeks later I was lying in the bath alone in the house. I drew my eyes to the shiny chrome taps near my feet and saw the reflection of a woman just watching me from the open doorway, she was dressed in colourful clothing, sort of 70s at a guess. I quickly jerked my head around to the doorway but there was no one to be seen. The image in the tap had gone too. I had been getting the feeling of being watched before on a few occasions but had dismissed it. I never took a bath alone in the house again after that.

On another occasion I was alone in the house again, I was sitting at the pc trying to make head and tails of a problem with my eBay account when I suddenly heard the very loud sounds of a woman sobbing. It was coming from the bedroom that my youngest son had, just to the right of where I was sitting. At first I thought it was the wind, but looking out of the window straight in front of me I could confirm that not a single branch or blade of grass was moving, this was pretty unusual in itself, considering our location. (Anyone who has been to the islands will know what I'm talking about!) Now I grew a little nervous, but listened intently trying to make out if it was a woman and not a radio or a noise outside. An animal perhaps? The sobbing grew to a heart wrenching wail, it grew so loud I had no doubt in my mind that this woman had suffered a terrible loss of some kind. Like the loss of a child my mind screamed. Where that thought had come from I had no idea, it suddenly dawned on me that I had a tape recorder in one of the drawers at my desk, I frantically attempted to retrieve it without disturbing the cries, but as I feared the noises stopped as suddenly as they had started and it was eerily quiet. I strained my ears for a good few minutes keeping as still as a statue in case I heard it again. But I never did.

I cursed myself for not being quick enough to catch it on tape, mind you it turned out my tape recorder wasn't in the drawer anyway, someone had moved it, more than likely my older son. I did check the bedroom straight afterwards, but of course I didn't see or hear anything. I also checked outside, but it was the usual quiet rural setting with no one in sight.

I was haunted by that crying, especially since it happened just a few months before my daughter tragically lost her premature baby daughter. My first grandchild (this happened while she was staying with us later that year), she was flown to Aberdeen but the baby was born too early and only lived for 48 hours. I was with her the whole time. I can't help but wonder if it had been some kind of omen.

The night before it all happened I also swore I felt a tiny finger of a small child touch my outstretched palm of my hand while I slept. I remember telling my husband in the morning that I hoped it wasn't an omen for the unborn child. Part of me knew, but I chose to ignore it. Was this incident also connected or was it just a dream? It had felt cold and real enough to wake me, but dreams can feel very real at times.

I have other things that happened too, but I will leave it there for now. Thanks for reading.

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Comments about this paranormal experience

The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by yourghoststories.com. Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, nessiev, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

rookdygin (24 stories) (4458 posts)
4 years ago (2017-11-10)
the wailing woman does sound like a Banshee. However a Banshee's wail (cry, scream, weeping...ect...) is usually heard much closer to the time a Family member is going to pass...24-36 hours seems to be a very common time frame from hearing 'her' cry and the passing of a Family member.

I would like to ask this... The Family you were renting from, were they the original owners of the Property? If this was a Banshee then perhaps your sensitivity to the spirit world allowed you to 'hear' her wail for the original property owners Family. (It's something you can check at least)

The 'crying' you heard may have been residual in nature... Not many things 'ooze' emotional energy like that of the death of a young child. Mayhap what you heard was a piece of the cottages history 'locked in time'.

As for 'feeling' the tiny finger in the palm of your hand...

The feeling of the tiny finger may have indeed been this child's way of reaching out to someone in the Family who was sensitive enough to 'feel/sense' them... I know your 'gut' was worried about the touch being an 'ill omen' but when you think back on it... Right when this sensation happened what feeling came with it... Was it instant dread/apprehension or was it something else?

(Slightly bit religious here folks...)

My Faith teaches us that each individual will be reunited with their physical body at the Time of Resurrection and Judgment... In order for this to happen each spirit that take a physical form on earth needs a physical body for itself... It does not matter how long the spirit occupies that body... Just that it does, even if every so briefly. The touch you felt may have been this spirit letting you know it was going to be alright... Its time was short because it simply needed a physical body to 'return' to at the 'end of days'.

Anyway...sorry I did not read/comment on this when it was first published...

Thanks for sharing.


AugustaM (7 stories) (996 posts)
4 years ago (2017-10-02)
I had the banshee thought too as I read - it does seem to fit. There also seems to have been a spirit (or more) present in the home. Perhaps a woman living there in the 70s lost a child, could not cope with the loss and took her own life. Maybe those experiences made her more attuned to mothers and children and she sensed the impending loss. Maybe that's what banshees really were in ages gone by - the heart broken spirits of mothers who had lost their children.

Forgive my leaps there... But it all seemed to fit in my own head:-)

Can't wait to read your other experiences!
Jubeele (24 stories) (873 posts)
4 years ago (2017-10-01)
My husband's looked into the history of the region and found that the Orkney and Shetland archipelagos were settled by the Norwegians during the Viking Expansion c.a.d. 800-1100. So I had a look at Norse mythology for references to a "crying woman". I did find mention of the goddess Freyja crying tears of red gold, turning trees into amber, when she couldn't find her husband, Óðr. Freyja, the goddess of beauty, love, sex, fertility, gold, war and death, was considered the most approachable of the deities worshiped at the time.

The strength of belief is a powerful force in its own right. Who knows what kind of emotional resonance has been absorbed into the wood and stones of buildings over centuries of history? Maybe the place carries echos from the many women who prayed to Freyja over their babies through the ages. There are occasions when I've walked into an old building for the first time I'll find myself thinking, there's something about this place...

You mentioned seeing the image of a woman in the bathroom. I wonder if the message was from her. Or that you somehow tapped into an "echo" of someone grieving in your dream state?

I'm interested in hearing more about you and your son's experiences (I've read his account - it was quite unnerving). Thank you for sharing them.
nessiev (2 stories) (5 posts)
4 years ago (2017-09-30)
thank you for your comments.

I no longer live on the islands, but my family do still reside in orkney, but not in that property. We moved out of that cottage in 2012.

My son had a very traumatising event happen there that was threatening, but it is for my son to share. (he has his own account on this site)

I am not really sure about the banshee theory, I have certainly read about them.

The energy theory is worth thinking about.

There are certainly a lot of disturbing events that have taken place on these islands and my family that still live there are currently experiencing paranormal problems again, but in a different part of orkney.

I will post more about the croft above and a few other ones linked to the same island shortly.

My daughter went on to have 3 lovely babies with no problems at all. We will never forget the precious angel, but life moves on and we move along with it. Thanks again.
Unexplained (2 stories) (121 posts)
4 years ago (2017-09-30)
Hi Nessiev, an excellent account. That was such an atmospheric story. Sorry to hear about the loss.

Your description, the sobbing etc. And the tragedy that followed, perfectly fits the characteristics of a 'banshee'. You might already be familiar with this in celtic folk stories, etc.

My condolences for the loss of your grandchild.
Jubeele (24 stories) (873 posts)
4 years ago (2017-09-29)
Hi nessiev,

I'm so sorry for your family's loss. Losing a child is particularly heartrending - words aren't quite enough in times like this.

I find that dreams sometimes send us messages about ourselves or maybe bring greetings from loved ones gone before us. The dream of feeling a baby and the woman crying sound remarkably like premonitions though. It does seem that you and maybe your son are 'sensitive' to such things.

I've been to Scotland only as far as Edinburgh and Inverness. But I know that the Orkney Isles have an ancient, neolithic history. I'm sure many places like the standing stones at the Ring of Brodgar, or the village of Skara Brae, carry a lot of powerful residual energies.

Are you able to find out more about the history of the Croft cottage where you're staying? It sounds like it's housing more than one 'echo' or resident spirit. But if your son and yourself haven't sensed any ill intent or experienced any overt threatening behaviour, either from the figure in his room or the image in the bathroom, then the sightings could just be curiosity on the entities' part.

Thank you for sharing your story. Look forward to hearing from you again. Please take care of yourselves in the meantime.

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