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The BBC's Asad Ahmad reports
"Scientists have decided to use cutting edge equipment to find out if the castle is truly haunted"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 4 April, 2001, 17:35 GMT 18:35 UK
Ghostbusters probe Edinburgh Castle
Dr Richard Wiseman
High-tech equipment is being used by ghost hunters
Scientists have begun a serious investigation into reports that Edinburgh Castle's dungeons might be haunted.

The investigation, launched in the historic castle's dungeons on Wednesday, is believed to be the most comprehensive investigation into the existence of spirit beings.

A team of nine researchers assisted by more than 200 members of the public will use sophisticated equipment in the hope of recording ghostly activity.

As well as the castle, the vaults under South Bridge and Mary's King Close, a disused underground street in which hundreds of plague victims were sealed up and left to die, will also be monitored.

Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle is widely believed to be haunted
Their findings - if any - will be unveiled on 17 April, the final day of the Edinburgh International Science Festival.

However, Dr Richard Wiseman, a psychologist from the University of Hertfordshire, who is leading the investigation, admitted he was sceptical about the existence of ghosts.

He said: "I'm a sceptic but if I see a ghost walking through the wall, then I'm prepared to be converted.

"This investigation is to try to understand why people have ghostly experiences - it may be down to something simple such as walking into cold air."

'What better place?'

He added: "We decided to come to Edinburgh because it has an amazing reputation for being haunted. What better place to come if you want to carry out an investigation into ghosts?"

The "ghostbusters" will use a range of equipment, including a thermal imager, geomagnetic sensors, temperature probes and night vision devices, to monitor the locations.

More than 200 people will take part in the project by walking through the South Bridge vaults to indicate whether they experience unusual phenomena.

Last year, Dr Wiseman was the first scientist to be permitted to investigate reports of ghostly activity at London's Hampton Court Palace.

'No waste of time'

US psychologist James Houran, who has previously investigated the paranormal, said he was excited at what findings the new investigation could throw up.

Mr Houran, from Illinois University School of Medicine, said: "Whatever happens at the end of the investigation, our research will not have been a waste of time.

"I have had experiences in previous investigations such as hearing voices, phantom footsteps and equipment playing up, but I don't know if there were paranormal reasons for that or physical influences.

"People maybe are more inclined to believe in ghosts if they are in a dark, damp dungeon, but this research should give us more of an understanding of why people have ghostly experiences."

The science festival runs from Friday until 17 April.

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See also:

29 Mar 01 | UK
Palace ghost laid to rest
20 Mar 00 | UK
Britain's favourite haunts
10 Mar 00 | Scotland
Piping up a storm Down Under
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