'Hauntings: A Book Of Ghosts & Where To Find Them' - Neil Oliver's Paranormal Tour of Britain
Best known for bringing British coasts to our living rooms, Neil Oliver now charts a different terrain. In his new book, 'Hauntings: A Book Of Ghosts & Where To Find Them', he guides us through the ghostly landscapes of the British Isles.
Known for background in archaeology, Neil injects a sense of authenticity into a subject often clouded by myth and sensationalism. For someone with such a strong journalistic and academic background, it may surprise you to learn that Neil as a genuine intrigue for the paranormal despite never having a personal encounter. He admits in the book, "I just don't know what to think."
The book covers a varied range of hauntings, from the well-known like Pendle Hill in Lancashire, which attracts ghost hunters eager to engage with spirits from infamous witch trials, to the lesser-known like Wistman's Wood in Devon, reputedly haunted by a phantom dog. Each location is meticulously researched, exploring its history, legends, and personal accounts, making this book not just a collection of ghost stories but an anthology of British folklore and history.
Perhaps the strongest aspect of 'Hauntings' is Neil's ability to embrace the dual nature of these tales, as gripping stories and as psychological phenomena begging explanation. His storytelling style engages readers while his skeptical eye keeps the narrative from veering into the overly dramatic.
What I liked about Neil approach is that he's on a mission similar to mine. He wants to see a ghost, but despite going to countless places were others have seen ghosts, Neil has yet to experience any supernatural sightings. Therefore the book is Neil's exploration of ghost stories that he has heard or read.
In the book, Neil takes us to Pendle Hill in Lancashire, an evocative landscape marred by its dark history of witch trials. Here, ghost hunters and sceptics alike traverse its slopes, either in search of paranormal evidence or to understand the historical and psychological factors that make this location a fertile ground for supernatural tales.
Equally compelling is Glamis Castle, where the Grey Lady and the Tongueless Woman are said to roam. A structure deeply steeped in haunting folklore, Glamis Castle offers an array of unsettling narratives that keep even the most hard-nosed sceptics on their toes.
Of course, no examination of haunted locations would be complete without Raynham Hall. Known for the infamous photograph of the Brown Lady, said to be Lady Dorothy Townshend, this location adds a layer of visual 'evidence' to the already murky waters of ghost hunting.
Then there's Mary King's Close, hidden beneath the streets of the historic city of Edinburgh. Today, the place hosts tours that delve into its haunting past, spotlighting characters like the Wizard of West Bow and the tragic tale of Little Annie's Doll.
Borley House makes its appearance as what was once dubbed the most haunted house in England. Its reputation was solidified by the investigations of legendary paranormal investigator Harry Price, adding another complex chapter to the ever-growing book of British hauntings.
Neil also features Wistman's Wood in Devon, a visually unsettling terrain said to be haunted by a phantom dog. Its ancient and gnarled trees create an atmosphere that feels almost otherworldly, appealing to both ghost hunters and those intrigued by natural phenomena that defy easy explanation.
Finally, Neil brings us to Number 50 Berkeley Square in London, a place that has seen multiple unfortunate deaths and has been described as London's most haunted house. The stories surrounding this location serve as a chilling reminder that tales of the paranormal are often interwoven with real-life tragedy.
'Hauntings: A Book Of Ghosts & Where To Find Them' neither aims to debunk every story nor does it attempt to convince us of the existence of the otherworldly, but offers a thoughtful exploration of why these stories persist and why we continue to listen. This makes the book a great read for anyone who loves ghost stories, whether you believe in things that go bump in the night or not.
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