Local BBC Sites

Neighbouring Sites

Page last updated at 10:45 GMT, Tuesday, 2 March 2010
County Durham's haunted history
Durham Cathedral. By Carole Jeffrey
There are 569 listed buildings in Durham city-centre

County Durham is one of the UK's most hanuted places according to local ghost hunter Rob Kirkup.

Steeped in history - archaeological evidence from the region dates back to 2000BC.

There are 569 listed buildings in Durham city centre alone - Rob believes it's this rich history that makes it so ghostly.

According to Rob - the county's most haunted places include Lumley Castle, Crook Hall and the Ancient Unicorn Inn.

Author of the new book Ghostly County Durham - Rob said: "There's been some horrible things that have happened in the county - murder, plagues.

"In my book there's 28 places I've written about - but I could have wrote about 100."

Lily of Lumley

Rob believes that Lumley Castle is probably the most haunted site in County Durham.

Rob Kirkup
Rob believes that the North East could be the UK's most haunted region

It hit the headlines in 2005 when members of the Australian cricket team were so scared that some refused to sleep alone.

Legend has it that the castle is haunted by the ghost of Lily of Lumley - a 14th Century lady of the manor, who was thrown down a well in the castle grounds by two priests after rejecting the Catholic Church.

Ghostly Figure

Making up the rest of the top five are Durham Castle, Crook Hall, the North of England Lead Mining Museum and the Ancient Unicorn Inn.

At Durham Castle the ghostly figure of a woman has been witnessed gliding up one of its staircases since the 17th Century.

Local legend claims that this is the spirit of Isabella Van Mildert who fell down the staircase, breaking her neck.

The castle is also said to be haunted by the ghost of Frederick Copeman, one of Durham University's first ever students - who threw himself from the tower of the cathedral after failing his exams.

Ghost hunters

So what is it that makes some places haunted?

Rob explained that many believe in the stone tape theory - if something truly awful happens then it stays in the fabric of the land or building and gets replayed over and over again.

Look at the number of castles there are and the history - I don't think there's another region that can touch us
Rob Kirkup

Rob said: "There generally does tend to be some kind of horrible murder or something like the plague involved.

"But then again there's places like the North of England Lead Mine Museum - during the time it was open only three people were killed there, but it's one of the most haunted places in County Durham."

The North of England Lead Mining Museum is a favourite of ghost hunters as footsteps and hushed voices are believed to be heard coming from the mine even when it's empty.

It's also said to be haunted by a miner who died violently there.

Local legend has it that the scream of a miner's wife who was never seen again after going looking for her husband, can be heard in nearby woods.

North East

Rob Kirkup's most haunted sites in County Durham
Lumley Castle
Durham Castle
Crook Hall
North of England Lead Mining Museum
Ancient Unicorn Inn

But Rob knows that many people are sceptical about the existence of ghosts.

He said: "What I'd say to them is have you ever taken the time to see if you can find a ghost?

"When I got into this I wasn't a 100% convinced I believed in ghosts - but if you look back over the centuries that have passed - there could genuinely be something to it."

Ghostly County Durham is Rob's third book - he's previously written Ghostly Northumberland and Ghostly Tyne and Wear.

Rob believes that north-east England is a particularly haunted place.

He said: "York and Edinburgh are often considered the most haunted places in the UK - but the North East has to be up there.

"Look at the number of castles there are and the history - I don't think there's another region that can touch us."

Is it good for us to feel scared?
30 Oct 09 |  Magazine
Fully spooked, jail hosts ghost hunt
29 Oct 09 |  Northern Ireland
The ghosts haunting British roads
18 Jun 09 |  Magazine
Aussies spooked
22 Jun 05 |  Funny Old Game


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2018 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific