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I Spent A Night In A Graveyard


I spent a night in a graveyard. Kind of. We actually went on a series of nights, most recently Halloween, and that time I went alone. Why go to a glitzy, Hollywood-induced costume party when you can celebrate it the old-fashioned way with a good old ghost hunt? A proper stake-out with coffee and biscuits. We went armed with a torch, digital camera, voice recorder, and of course our own senses and judgment - probably the most important tool of all, but also the one most prone to error. Amateurish tech by propper ghost-hunting standards I know, but you have to start somewhere.

As with my previous tale, this one comes from the Scottish town of Troon, specifically an old graveyard and church ruins on the outskirts called Crosbie Kirkyard. It dates back to 1681 but an older church apparently stood on the site as far back as the 1200s, so we're talking really old here. It was officially closed in 1868 when the town got a bigger cemetery and the gates have been locked ever since. According to legend, the roof of the church blew off during a storm the same night Robert Burns, Scotland's national poet, was born in the nearby town of Ayr. However, that tale sounds apocryphal and made-up. What's more interesting is a poem made about the place by one John Laing, alleging it to be haunted by "ghaists an' spunkies" (ghosts and strange lights). Again, don't just take my word for it; all of this info can be found online. This is a real place with a real history.

If you know the local area well enough, there are a few ways to get there, the most direct being through the woods. The gate is permanently locked and the wall more or less insurmountable, though there is a way in by standing on a tree stump around one side and mounting part of the wall. A cemetery at night was a petrifying thought when I was younger so simply being there in the dark felt like something of an achievement. The hardest part was probably entering in; you're never sure what's over the other side of that wall. I almost had to remind myself that somewhere in here was the resting place of a one-time assassin named David Hamilton, though most say it was really his brother who was guilty and that David was just part of the plot, but that's a debate for another day.

My photos were fairly spooky in themselves, showing dark trees and ruins looming up against a grey sky, not to mention the jagged metal of the cemetery gate, but there was nothing out of the ordinary. A few dust specs maybe. Then I set down my voice recorder and we exited the graveyard, hoping to pick up something in our absence, and returned a half hour later.

Just as the novelty of it all was wearing off, we took a seat on an overturned gravestone (sorry dead person!) and were gazing at the stars when a white streak of light came zooming past right above us. My friend thought it might be a shooting star, but it seemed much too low and small. Shooting stars travel in an arc whereas this light just shot straight by in a perfect line. If that was weird, it was to get even weirder.

As we set out on our way home another one of these lights appeared just over the ruined church, zooming into the treeline. It was lucky I turned my head round at that moment to catch it; I wonder how many lights there were that we didn't see. There was no doubting it this time; it was way too low and minuscule to be a shooting star. I can only describe these lights as tiny white balls or globes which travelled very fast. Either it was a ghost (whatever that might be) or I witnessed a strange light phenomenon, possibly something similar to what we might now call will-o'-the-wisps or something we don't know about yet. Maybe these lights were the 'spunkies' reported in John Laing's poem centuries earlier. 'Spunkie' is an old Scots word which basically meant a strange light or glowing.

The following evening I listened back to the audio from my voice recorder, all 27 minutes of it, and I did find something, however faint. In-between the gentle wind and car noises is what sounds like a tap followed by three or four footsteps. I rewound and compared it with my own footsteps at the start of the recording and the sound was practically identical. I also tried reproducing the 'tap' sound by touching the screen of the phone and playing it back, and that too sounded quite similar. The whole segment is unique in the whole footage. Was it simply another person, you might ask? Well, although a main road runs nearby, barely anyone walks this way, especially at night; it's a bit out of the way. Type in 'Crosbie Churchyard' on Google Maps and you'll see what I mean. And I think it's a pretty fair assumption that we were the only weirdos going into this place at night. I suppose the likeliest explanation is an animal, but the footsteps sounded too slow and heavy to be a squirrel or rabbit, though that's just my own personal judgment.

Nothing happened on the other nights but that still can't diminish our experiences from the first time. Beginner's luck I suppose. In fact the only vaguely paranormal thing we encountered on the second night was a noise outside my friend's house on the homeward journey. Then the thought came to me that what we call the paranormal probably works in a very funny way or, bizarre as it sounds, like fishing. You can go 10 times and only catch something once or twice. All my run-ins with 'ghosts' so far have had that kind of theme: there's something there, not overly clear or discernible but still quite out of the ordinary, then in an instant it's gone or doesn't show up again. It's not as if you can catch it up close and take it back to test in a lab, but you know there was definitely a weird element about the experience.

I don't give much credit to feelings of being watched or of a 'presence' (after all, that you feel scared is a fact about yourself and not your surroundings), but I suppose it's not a bad thing to say that at no point in the investigation was I genuinely frightened or alarmed. I even liked it in there, the magical stillness of it all. If one thing's for sure it's that the dead are less likely to harm you than the living, but whether they are all truly at rest, I still can't say.

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The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, MichaelM95, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will participate in the discussion and I need help with what I have experienced.

MichaelM95 (2 stories) (13 posts)
5 years ago (2018-11-06)

Yeah it is a shame that this graveyard (and certain others) are no-go zones and locked off to the public, especially since some people might come looking for the graves of their ancestors.

I'm not sure exactly why, but in this case it probably helps maintain the site; it is so old it could almost be called a historical site. Also, the graveyard is very old and so prone to damage ( Some of the gravestones have literally tumbled over with age, and once I went in to find some of the graves dug up due to damage or whatever.

People can only damage it further I guess, so maybe that's part of the reason the gates are locked.
MichaelM95 (2 stories) (13 posts)
5 years ago (2018-11-06)

Thanks for sharing your experience. Good to know I'm not the only one to have seen some sort of strange lights. Part of my aim in writing the post was to cross-examine my experience with others so as to determine any similarity. But you say you heard the experience from others? What did they say exactly, if you can remember?
AugustaM (7 stories) (996 posts)
5 years ago (2018-11-06)
It makes me sad that the gates are locked - graveyards are meant to be visited and the markers are put up that those beneath mightn't be forgotten. Its a sorry thought that they are all cooped up in there to slowly pass into oblivion. I suppose the lock may discourage vandals to some extent but its still quite... Sad to me. I hope, somewhere out there, someone remembers their ancestors in that gated field and perhaps pays a visit now and then.
Haven (20 stories) (307 posts)
5 years ago (2018-11-06)
Hi MichaelM95 -

Thanks for sharing your story with us, very interesting.

I personally do not find graveyards to be scary. On the contrary, I find them very peaceful and, going by my religion, believe they are blessed grounds. I love strolling up and down and reading gravestones and have never heard, seen or felt anything. I have, however, felt very scared to go to random places without any explanation. I have felt uneasy, dreadful and physically sick when I approach certain places/locations but I can't really say that about any cemetery/graveyard.
MichaelM95 (2 stories) (13 posts)
5 years ago (2018-11-05)
Hi Biblio,

Thanks for your scientific approach. I can confirm it was a clear night with minimal cloud cover. Not too much wind either.

As to your insect suggestions, it wasn't the right colour for a lightning bug, though I googled glowworms and I guess it was (sort of) similar to what I saw, though I can't be sure either way. From what I can tell, a glowworm's flight seems quite erratic and zigzaggy whilst what I saw had a more linear flight-pattern and, as you say, this would seem to discredit an insect explanation due to the fact they tend to fly in more erratic patterns for evolutionary benefits.

Nonetheless, the lights I saw were around 10pm, which I think (correct me if I'm wrong) is when glowworms become active. And my sighting was around late September (not too far off from August), and not late October, though I did go again of course on Halloween but saw nothing. And you are quite right that the fact it zoomed into the trees would possibly suggest an insect, due to nests etc I would imagine.

So yeah, those points would seem to favour an insect explanation, but the linear flight pattern doesn't, so we can't be sure. Thanks for the suggestion though, reminding me there's probably a billion things in nature these 'lights' could have been without resort to the paranormal.

Frankly I'd kill to know what it is I saw, whether ghost or fascinating creature or natural phenomenon.
DeliverDawn (5 stories) (45 posts)
5 years ago (2018-11-04)
Hi MichaelM95,

The "lights" that you mention--I think I've seen something similar before. Since I wasn't there I obviously can't be sure, but I'm very tempted to say it was the same kind of phenomena (at least in my case, I can safely say that the chance that it was a piezoelectric discharge is very slim).

This was a very interesting read, so I hope you continue to update us on things like this. Best wishes x
Bibliothecarius (9 stories) (1091 posts)
5 years ago (2018-11-04)
Greetings, MichaelM95.

Depending upon not only the church's construction, but also the atmospheric pressures & charges at the time, there's an outside chance that you witnessed piezoelectric discharge as tiny crystals within the church's stones built up enough pressure to discharge an ionic burst. However, such a charge is normally "felt" as a pressure in the atmosphere; it is uncommon for such a charge to be visible until colossal tectonic pressure or deliberate mechanical pressure is involved.

I'm presuming it was a clear night, as your friend guessed at "shooting stars" as an explanation. Shooting stars do not begin their activities below the cloud deck. This complicates the "pressure" theory further, as the lack of cloud cover would have meant a fairly consistent pressure front, not colliding fronts generating atmospheric pressures.

I don't believe that glow-worms and lightning bugs would be up to much nocturnal activity in the chill of autumnal Scotland, but I'd have to research that to be certain. I remember that their primary "lighting" time is during the mating season from June through August, not late October. As the lights you witnessed vanished into the trees, insects are a possibility. However, insects very seldom bioluminesce during flight with a single blaze (more like "blinking" in flight or staking out a mating location), let alone fly in straight lines that predators can predict. The erratic and nonsensical flight paths they take are an evolutionary advantage.

For what it is worth, I've gone through several likely options, but have not come up with a succinct natural explanation. Indeed, I suspect you may have witnessed paranormal orbs.

To be honest, I have more trouble believing photographs of orbs than I do of witnesses who claim to have seen them briefly with no explanation *why* they were there.


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