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Poltergeist in Military Museums new building?
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D B Sweeney

Joined: 27 Aug 2010
Posts: 2842
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland

PostPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2011 1:11 am    Post subject: Poltergeist in Military Museums new building? Reply with quote

Here's the story:

Interesting story and not untypical of many allegedly haunted locations so let's take a look at
what's been reported and what it might be other than jumping all to quickly to the default position
of 'ghosts did it'.

The chief witness to the events described is Mr Tony Goddard the assistant Curator of The Military Museum, Carlisle Castle, Cumbria, England.
First of all we need to be aware that Mr Goddard and his team, at the time these events were reported, had only been
working in the building in question for about twenty days. They are preparing the Alma Building in order for The Military Museum to move into it over the coming twelve months. See press article and links for more details.

Let's look at the reported phenomenon in a little detail.

Shadowy figures seen in doorways and rooms - Are they real shadows that are clearly human in
shape or just vague shadows?. Shadows of figures could be exactly that ie: shadows of people moving in another part of the building or just shadows caused by the light from either inside or outside being obscured by some source unknown to the witness. Without specific instances we can only speculate on known causes of shadows such as light hitting a physical object and causing one or an external light source moving relative to the observer - if the light source or the object moves then so will the shadow.

Unexplained bangs and footsteps - This is a building that the staff are unfamiliar with and as such may they not be aware of the various physics at play both within and outside it. They are unfamiliar with the layouts of the rooms, the acoustics and even the smells of the rooms which could all be contributory factors in the phenomenon reported. These could be drafts, air pressure differentials caused by doors being opened and closed and noises being carried down stairs, through floors, across rooms and down corridors. There is also the building itself which may shift, settle, expand and contract at night when temperatures tend to drop. Usually the older the building the more likely it is to create these sounds especially if several types of material are used such as wood, metal and stone all of which expand and contract at different rates.
Then there is the elephant in the room that nobody ever wants to consider - someone is playing pranks. There's usually a joker in every pack and given the Castles reputation for being haunted (Most Haunted staged a Panto/programme there in 2009) it's not unreasonable to assume that some of these experiences are quite simply the work of a practical joker. But of course we all know that no one ever plays practical jokes on people do they?.

Small objects flying through the air - We're not given any indication of how often this has happened so it could be just once, two or three times or more frequently (which is highly unlikely). This could be the work of our joker, it could be simple misperception, or it could be genuine poltergeist activity.

Lights turning themselves on overnight - This is an old building and we're not told how old the wiring is so this could be a wiring/electrical fault, it could be our joker again or it could be just absentmindedness. I often leave the house thinking 'Did I leave the light on?' and end up going back to double check. Mr Goddard may not be fully familiar with the eccentricities of the electricity or whether other people are responsible for the lights going on. Old buildings are quirky places and often seem to have personalities all their own due to their construction, wiring, heating, draft proofing (or lack of it) and the fact that they're often the home to numerous 'guests' such as rats, mice, birds and insects - all of which can generate the range of effects we've come to associate with haunting phenomenon.

The sound of a Piano coming from empty rooms - Sound carries and sound carries further at night and under different weather conditions. A quick check on Google maps reveals that several Car Parks, Residential Areas and a large Park border the Military Museum and the Castle in general so the location is by no means isolated. We aren't told if there is actually a piano in the Castle or the Alma Building but this cannot be ruled out thus nor can human, animal, insect or environmental pianists.

'Mr Goddard, who has long been fascinated by the paranormal' - this fascination could be creating an environment where perfectly natural noises and visual effects are being mistakenly attributed to supernatural phenomenon. Given the fact that the Castle itself has a well documented catalogue of ghostly activity and Most Haunted have filmed there the seed is quite obviously planted in the heads of the staff.

"One of the strangest was when three of us were sitting in the Staff Room and I know there was nobody else in the building because there's only one way in. But we heard the sound of somebody banging on the internal door. When we opened it there was nobody there but we heard footsteps running up to the first floor" said Mr Goddard - This suggests the prankster is possibly at work again or it could be an effect caused by internal drafts, shifting of timbers, door jambs, pipework or one or a combination of the above spiced with a good dose of heightened expectations.

"Last week I was working on some shelving and I had the feeling of being watched so I turned around. Through the window to the room next door I could see the figure of a man just standing there looking at me. I just said 'you don't frighten me' and I turned around" said Mr Goddard - this reaction strikes me as very odd for the simple reason that Mr Goddard did not investigate, approach the stranger to ascertain who he was - real or spirit - but instead turns around, ignoring the manghost, and carries on with whatever he was doing. By his own admission he's not frightened so why not grasp the opportunity to once and for all solve the mystery and possibly meet a real life ghost?.
In the video that accompanies the press article (see link) Mr Goddard goes on to say he turned around again 20 minutes later to see approximately 20-30 people stood in the same place all wearing 1940's or 50's style clothing. Once again we have to ask ourselves why didn't he investigate, call a colleague, take a picture or simply ask them why they were there?.

All in all a very interesting series of events that certainly cry out to be properly investigated preferably by people who are not already convinced ghosts exist and who will go about it in a scientific manner, leaving the Ouija Board, Dowsing Rods, various ghost hunting 'gadgets' and pet medium at home.

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