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  Ghosts and Restless Spirits

The restless children

Picture: Sigurd TowrieStories of the restless spirits of children were once common in the islands, stemming, no doubt, from earlier traditions that unbaptised infants could not be buried within consecrated ground.

As such, unless certain steps were taken these children's spirits would never be at peace.

Once such tale comes from North Ronaldsay, where there once stood a house, with a garden bordered by a stone dyke.

This garden had a fearful reputation, unknown to one visitor who wandered past it late one night, while heading back to his lodgings.

As he approached the wall, he was gripped by a sense of extreme fear; sensations made worse by the fact there was nothing to be seen or heard. The eerie unease remained until he was past the garden wall.

Only later did he learn of the garden's history.

Long before, there had been two children secretly buried in the garden. But without a Christian burial they were could not lie at rest.

Strange lights were often seen in the garden, and "uncanny" white birds were seen to fly upwards into the night sky after sunset. Before long, the area had such a dreadful reputation that no-one would walk by the house after nightfall.

After a time, the children were exhumed and their remains given a Christian burial in the kirkyard. But although the spectral birds were no longer seen, the glowing lights relocated, manifesting instead around the fresh graves in the kirkyard.

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