Dark figures and shoves from behind: Inside one of the UK’s most haunted castles

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According to Steve Watson of GHOSTNorthEast, an expert in all things paranormal who runs tours of the most haunted places in the region, there are five places in particular where visitors are all but guaranteed to experience something supernatural.

Dating back to Roman times, the North East city has a huge history of shocking and grisly tales from centuries past which have inspired the ghostly tales that surround many of its oldest buildings. 

These are the stories that give these five places their reputation as the most haunted in the city.

The Lit and Phil

Opened in 1825, this historical library is the oldest one in Newcastle – and some consider it to be the most haunted building in the city. 

Part of the famous Hadrian’s Wall runs underneath the library, which is said to be the origin behind some of its ghost stories.

The library claims to have 16 ghosts, and stories range from sightings of Roman soldiers to hearing children crying. 

There’s even a tale of a librarian whose spirit patrols the bookcases.

Amen Corner and Newcastle Cathedral

Both the Cathedral and the street next to it have a history stretching back centuries, and many spooky stories have surfaced over the years.

Ghostly figures are often reportedly seen at Amen Corner, so called because it was where the poor would pray for food. 

The lane was also where monks would walk from the nearby friary to the church, and many have claimed to see monk-like figures wandering down the gloomy street since – before suddenly vanishing into thin air.

The Cathedral itself has plenty of its own ghost stories too. In the 1600s Civil War, Scottish prisoners were held hostage inside the Cathedral, and legend has it that visitors can sometimes still hear their anguished screams. 

But it’s the Cathedral’s graveyard that you have to watch out for – not for ghosts this time, but a vampire. This supernatural story comes from a sinister-looking statue of a rabbit perched above the doorway of a building behind the Cathedral which overlooks the graveyard. Painted black with massive blood-red fangs, it has inspired a local legend. Some say that the rabbit used to come down from its perch and scare away any potential grave-robbers by sucking their blood.

Blackfriars

It’s now a popular restaurant, but this former 13th century monastery has a lot of ghost tales. Inside the restaurant some have reported seeing the furniture and tableware move unaided. The story goes that this is the doing of a furious monk who once lived at Blackfriars.

The ghost of a nun has also reportedly been seen near where the monastery hospital was once housed.

Other supernatural sightings include unexplained black smoke rising from the field where the monastery church one stood, followed by the sound of terrified screams. 

Some link this to the story of King Henry VIII sending in his armies to destroy the churches centuries ago.

The Centre For Life

The modern Centre For Life might seem like an unlikely candidate for hauntings – but it’s actually the land it was built on that is thought to be behind the supernatural sightings in the science village. 

The Centre is built on the former site of Newcastle Infirmary, built in 1753, and many skeletal remains were discovered buried underground when foundations were being laid for the Centre For Life. 

One of the most spine-chilling tales goes that at closing time one night, a staff member was asked about the “Victorian actors” that they had just seen in another room, and what exhibition they were part of. The staff member had to explain that they had no Victorian-themed exhibitions on at the time, and there were definitely no Victorian actors around. The visitor insisted they had seen a family in Victorian dress – but when the staff member went to check the room they had been seen in, it was empty.

The Castle Keep 

The ancient 12th-century castle in the heart of Newcastle is where the city got its name, and the castle keep is a favourite among ghost hunters. Some of the “endless” ghost stories from the keep include that of a Spanish cavalier, who can only be seen from the waist down walking across the great hall, and a famous tale of a mischievous flower girl who haunts the keep’s staircase. Visitors can expect anything from footsteps being heard in empty rooms, to dark figures being spotted up in the cloisters. 

The keep is so closely linked to supernatural goings-on that it offers ghost hunts in its events programme. But any brave takers should beware – visitors have told of being shoved in the back by an unseen force when inside the keep after dark.

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