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  Ghosts and Restless Spirits

Spectre: Illustration by Sigurd TowrieAlthough the tradition of restless spirits, and hauntings, was, and still is, strong in Orkney, very few ghost stories from traditional folklore have found their way into the written word.

Orkney can be a dark and foreboding place.

I remember all too clearly the numerous childhood tales of haunted places - terrifying accounts of places a little boy should avoid at all costs.

Or else.....

Many a sleepless night was spent pondering such things. But looking back with the wisdom of age, most of these yarns were the products of mere childhood fancy - an old boarded-up building was soon transformed into a malevolent haunted house, while in the darkest depths of an Orkney winter, wailing phantoms hid in every old doorway, castle ruin and kirk.

Of the ghost stories firmly rooted in folklore, it is likely that many of the older traditions can be accounted for by folk memories - the story of an event handed on from one generation to the next, until it distorts after centuries of retelling.

At the root of these tales, however, there usually lies a grain of truth.

Despite the apparent lack of material, the Orcadian ghost is far from dead today with literally dozens of unrecorded spectral traditions still around today.

Click here for a selection of the few Orcadian ghost stories remaining today.