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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 May, 2003, 13:32 GMT 14:32 UK
Mystery of Big Bertha's ghost
Rosemary Rawcliffe
Rosemary Rawcliffe on the staircase where Bertha Ramsey fell
The ghost of a six foot tall matron who roams the corridors of a university campus is being made the subject of a new book.

The spectre of Bertha Ramsey is said to be a familiar sight to staff at the University of Wales College Newport's Caerleon campus since her death in 1962.

But Bertha's ghost is not the only apparition to be seen in the university building which was built in 1912 on the site of a Roman burial ground.

There are several stories of Roman centurions marching through the property.

Now, a student at the college is writing a book about the spooky sightings at the college.

"Bertha Ramsey was found dead at the foot of the stairs in January 1962," said Rosemary Rawcliffe, 61, who is studying for an MA in Historical Landscapes.

There is a real mystery about her death
Rosemary Rawcliffe

"The 60-year-old matron, nick-named Big Bertha for obvious reasons, had apparently plunged to her death after toppling over a banister on the second floor.

"There was some speculation at the time about whether she had fallen or been pushed.

"Since her death, there have been numerous sightings of her ghost roaming the corridors near her room on the ground floor.

"There is a real mystery about her death.

"Because it happened during the Christmas holidays, there were no students staying at the college so there was no reason for her to go upstairs.

"Why did she go up there? And what caused her death?," she said.

Several of the security staff have heard strange sounds a night
Tim Jones, security officer

During her research into Big Bertha, Ms Rawcliffe said that despite searching, she still has not found a death certificate or Bertha's grave.

And has also discovered that even after her death, the formidable figure of Bertha still managed to startle people who knew her.

"She (Bertha) told no one that she had an identical twin sister, who turned up for the funeral and went into the principal's office, giving him the fright of his life," said Ms Rawcliffe.

"He thought it was Big Bertha come back from the dead," she added.

Big Bertha's ghost, described as a woman wearing a brown overall with her hair pulled back in a tight bun, is a well-known phenomenon among security staff who patrol the campus at night.

Many claim to have heard strange noises and seen pictures knocked crooked while making their rounds.

Security officer Tim Jones said: "Several of the security staff have heard strange sounds a night and sometimes, in the early hours of the morning, the lift will come down and when the doors open there is no one inside it.

"When that happens we all say, 'Here comes Big Bertha'," he added.

Ms Rawcliffe is hoping that more people with stories about the phantoms of the Caerleon campus will come forward with their tales.

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