By Graeme Milne.
I had already had the good fortune to explore many haunted locations in the region, however two municipal tower blocks was a definite first.
My excitement however became quickly tempered as I realised the chances of actually being able to snoop around this location was virtually zero.
Undaunted I pressed ahead and over a period of a year I was lucky enough to talk to five former residents from a number of flats in the two buildings, who provided me with some extremely interesting stories, including that of a possible Elemental.
Could it get any stranger, well yes, as it turned out.
The buildings themselves are not particularly historic or architecturally pleasing but the area itself is rich with bloody historic incident and to quote from the film Ghostbusters, could well be a candidate for “spook central”. As mentioned I was unable to personally visit any of the properties within the blocks and have had to accept the stories at face value, however I have known most of the witnesses for a considerable period of time and can vouch for their integrity and know that they are not prone to flights of fancy.
The first building of note on the site, to be backed up by historic records, is Aberdeen’s Castle; an early fortification which was destroyed along with it’s English garrison in the dim and distant past. Details are sketchy to say the least, the castle being so completely destroyed that researchers have never found any physical evidence of its existence other than in written records. Other buildings came and went and dark deeds committed, like the burning of 24 ‘witches’ in 1597 that took place a stone’s throw away.
Then there were the numerous decapitations performed by the Scottish Maiden on nearby Heading Hill, add to this a handful of notorious murders and a nearby mortuary then you have at the very least a grim residual energy. In later years the area became home to an Observatory and then a grand Georgian military barracks. Built in 1796 the barracks remained with the army until 1935 when, after decommissioning, it became supposed, temporary housing. In the 1960’s the barracks by now somewhat run down were demolished and on this site the respective Marischal and Virginia courts were built, the location of the following events.
the family had been subjected to a prolonged series of unexplainable incidents during their residency
I first became aware of the areas dark history while undertaking research for a walk, and during this, a chance encounter with a former resident provided me with some startling and unique stories. As it transpired these incidents were not isolated and as I delved further others came to light.
I first met Lynn Fallon through my work, when I was conducting a tour for a local community centre. On a sunny but blustery afternoon we were gathered at the foot of Marischal Court, admiring the panoramic views of the nearby harbour. During a conversation about the old barracks Lynn pointed out that her family had lived in next-door Virginia Court and that they believed the building to be haunted. We arranged to discuss this further.
It transpired that despite the relative modernity of the building the family had been subjected to a prolonged series of unexplainable incidents during their residency, which started in Lynn’s early adulthood and continued after she left. She explained,
“My bedroom was the back one, I painted it and moved in. At some point after, I started waking in the middle of the night, the room felt icy and I had the distinct feeling I was not wanted there. I took my quilt and moved downstairs. This happened on several occasions over a period of weeks.
“Sometimes when I woke it felt as if there was a heavy weight pressing on my chest and a couple of times I felt I was being pulled from bed by my feet.
“After two weeks of disturbed sleep I rearranged the furniture to ‘claim’ the bedroom and ‘told’ the room that this was my room now, that I lived there and like it or not, they were not supposed to be there any more, that was the end of it. However when I moved out my parents began using the room and things started up again”.
She was like a silhouette and moved straight past me to the opposite side of the room where she disappeared
She went on to say that on a number of occasions when passing the open door of the darkened bedroom, a strange bluish glow appeared to emanate from her parents bed. Her father seemed to be particularly plagued by vivid nightmares in this room and would awake abruptly in fear.
I was given permission to contact Mr Fallon to clarify this. On contacting me, although they had moved away many years ago, he remembered the following incidents with great clarity. He explained,
“I woke up through the night and on my left side of the bed I saw a three legged stool sitting on the floor, I suppose much like a milking stool. It began to rise slowly through the air vertically and disappeared through the ceiling.
“A minute later a woman wearing an old fashioned crinoline bonnet came through the wall again on my left side next to the headboard. She was like a silhouette and moved straight past me to the opposite side of the room where she disappeared. I woke my wife up in a panic but when she woke it was gone, it was the kind of thing you never forget”.
Mr Fallon went on to say that there were other more minor incidents which made their stay uncomfortable and that strangely, when his wife was in the house on her own one day, she became convinced that the living room “was full of people”, though she was at a loss as to explain this, she just felt it to be.
I was subsequently given the name of a former caretaker who he claimed had also experienced some unusual occurrences although I have not been able to contact him as yet. Interestingly these incidents bear all the signs of a classic residual haunting with the spirit going about its business walking through walls, which in their day would have been doors.
With my interest peaked I decided to try and find out more, which given the buildings usage proved to be difficult.
I was, however able to find out about other buildings of note in close proximity which included a nearby Salvation Army Citadel and a now demolished Sick Kids Hospital. A number of months later I came across another ex resident and during the course of the conversation a number of intriguing incidents came to light. We arranged to reconvene on the matter and I was able to record his time at the building in greater detail, which left me in no doubt as to the authenticity of these stories.
Whispering could be heard in certain rooms and the temperature remained icy despite the heating being left on
Dave had moved into the adjoining building, Marischal court in 1990. The house was a maisonette, which had an unusual layout; bedrooms on the bottom floor while the living room, kitchen and bathroom were on the top floor. Dave generally lived alone but his three children would visit regularly and stay over, sleeping in one of the downstairs rooms.
Having a lifelong interest in the occult and the paranormal and having experienced premonitions as a child he felt that the atmosphere in the house began to exert itself.
Whispering could be heard in certain rooms and the temperature remained icy despite the heating being left on. His elder son David would later verify this and explained that at first they suspected the noise of whispering was in fact travelling up the walls from neighbouring properties however when they listened at the walls the noise would cease abruptly. Dave was keen to point out that these were fairly regular occurrences but to put it in perspective they happened over a long period.
As we sat drinking our tea the doorbell rang and his eldest son joined us for the rest of the interview. It soon came to light that there were three incidents of note during their tenancy and in the following I have tried to describe them as accurately as possible. A short while after they had moved in all three children were staying over. Christopher and Fay being the youngest were asleep in bed whilst David the eldest had been allowed to stay up late to watch a film with his dad.
Around one in the morning Dave was in the kitchen washing dishes at the sink, while his son was standing behind the glass door talking to his dad. They heard the sound of footsteps coming along the corridor towards the kitchen door. Dave swung round abruptly dishcloth in hand and said, “will you get back to bed”. He then described how his ‘jaw dropped’ as he saw what was standing in the corridor.
We stood in terror and I remember thinking, what is going on in this house
David standing behind the glass door could see the silhouette of a small figure in a long white gown and was equally transfixed. After what seemed like an age the figure turned noiselessly around and walked down the corridor.
Dave put down the dish he had been drying and grabbing his son ran downstairs to his children thinking initially they had manufactured some kind of prank. Both however were soundly asleep.
He described the figure to me as that of a small child with short blond hair and a pale complexion who looked ill. I was left in no doubt that the incident had left them both shaken and nervous. There was however no repeat of the incident and things again quietened down. It was not until a number of years later when David moved in permanently, that the next incident of note happened. I should point out at this time that the current building was in close proximity to the now demolished Sick Children’s Hospital, which may account for the appearance of the “ill looking girl”.
It was again fairly late in the evening and Dave was in the bathroom while his son made a cup of tea in the nearby kitchen. Both were startled by a loud thumping noise coming from the stairs and immediately went into the corridor to investigate where they were met with the alarming sight of their books flying off a nearby bookcase. Dave explained,
“The bookcase was around four foot from the banister of the staircase which went down to the bedrooms, and the books were shooting over the banister rapidly, one by one and falling down the stairs. We stood in terror and I remember thinking, what is going on in this house.
“After a prolonged period we plucked up the courage to go down stairs to investigate. We crept down the stairs to the pile of books, there were books on philosophy, mythology and the occult and they were lying in a heap at the foot of the stairs, we started to pick them up and noticed that one I had used at University, a philosophy book, had indentations on it which went quite far into the book. They were marks made by human adult teeth.
“That really freaked us out”.
Nothing however happened the rest of the night though this did not stop them being left with that horrible feeling of anticipation which lingered for days. David started to look into the history of the area to try and find some answers and would on occasion hear stories from other tenants though these were fairly innocuous compared to what had occurred in his flat.
she was right next to me. She had large black eyes like a fish and stared down at me
The third and least easily explained incident occurred some years later in the living room of the flat in which Dave described a frightening encounter; with what he took to be an Undine, a water spirit, or elemental.
Dave takes up the story:
“It was early evening and I was lying on my three-seater settee resting with my eyes shut, but not sleeping. I was clear of mind and not stressed, but I began to feel the atmosphere change and felt there was something coming into the room.
“I thought at first I was being stupid but became very wary of opening my eyes. After a time I slowly opened my eyes and let them glance behind me to the wall.
“Lying along the back of the settee was a posed female form, she was right next to me. She had large black eyes like a fish and stared down at me. I felt there was malevolence there. I was frozen with fear but let my eyes travel down her body slowly.
“The top half was that of a normal woman but the lower half of her body was like the archetypal mermaid with what appeared to be fish scales. I willed myself to close my eyes and the atmosphere slowly changed and became normal. I knew then that whatever it was had gone.
“I shot up quickly and thought I had lost my sanity. I touched the edge of the sofa and realised it was cold and damp, but not slimy. I still cannot explain this and have thought about it over and over again. I never saw it again and felt it could have been an elemental, I honestly don’t know.”
We finished off the interview and after thanking them both for their time I left with the previous hours conversations still spinning in my head. Was it an elemental that Dave had seen, a discarnate spirit wandering the earth, or perhaps a manifestation of some inner turmoil?
Dave put forward the theory that it may have been something connected to his past occult practices. Despite their ruminating, the answers remain elusive, however I think you will agree that given the wide range of activity from poltergeist to residual in this building, it could well rank as one of the most haunted in the city.