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Dr Richard Wiseman, Psychologist
"We wanted to see if there was something going on in those vaults"
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Isabel Fraser reports
"Hundreds of visitors have reported close encounters of the spectral kind"
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Tuesday, 17 April, 2001, 18:35 GMT 19:35 UK
Castle ghost hunt's 'curious' findings
Dr Richard Wiseman
The researchers were looking for evidence of ghosts
Scientists using high-tech methods to examine ghostly goings-on at Edinburgh Castle say they are encouraged by their findings.

Volunteers have reported apparitions and physical contact during the 10-day investigation into the vaults and tunnels around the historic fortress.

The results appear to bear out stories that some of the chambers under the castle are haunted.

I'm closer to being a lot more curious, and the fact that the photographic anomalies happened in allegedly haunted places makes me think that there's something going on

Dr Wiseman
The investigation, carried out as part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival, was led by Dr Richard Wiseman of the University of Hertfordshire.

His team of researchers used sophisticated recording equipment to try to get evidence of paranormal activity.

Dr Wiseman said: "What was interesting for us was whether or not those experiences would stack up in the vaults with the reputation for being haunted and the answer is that that definitely does happen."

He found 51% of people in vaults reputed to be haunted reported experiences, while only 35% did so in the other five.

Dr Wiseman, who remains sceptical about the existence of ghosts, said he believed the background light from beyond the vaults' archways and the size of the vaults appeared to be a factor.

Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle is widely believed to be haunted
"We measured air temperature, air movement, magnetic fields and light levels from outside the vaults.

"When it was darker outside in the corridor then people reported far more experiences inside the vaults.

"So there's obviously a sense of not knowing what's going on outside the corridor and that's leading to people perhaps being more anxious."

He added: "The haunted vaults had twice as much floor space and they were about one third higher.

"That either means ghosts like large spaces to live in or these physical measurements are having an impact on people's psychology."

'Mystery' to untangle

Dr Wiseman said the results were more significant than those from a previous experiment he carried out at Hampton Court.

Denying he was closer to "believing", he added: "I'm closer to being a lot more curious, and the fact that the photographic anomalies happened in allegedly haunted places makes me think that there's something going on.

"Had the public experiences been randomly distributed between the vaults then you really couldn't conclude anything, what you can conclude is that there is something going on in some sense, that these vaults are in some senses producing an experience.

"That's why I think scientists can be quite excited about this, because suddenly there's an effect to work with, something to untangle that is a little bit of a mystery."

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