Slains Castle

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I will tell you, this season I had the opportunity to visit some pretty amazing and creepy places around the world. Of all the spooky spots I will say this one takes the cake. Said to be the spot that inspired Bram Stoker to write Dracula, Slains Castle is now a ruin south of Aberdeen, Scotland. There are no gates or tolls or a even a sign saying “Slains Castle this way”. Nope, just word of mouth is how I found this one.

I was playing golf at the impossible Cruden Bay golf course losing more balls than my dogs when I noticed a castle way off in the distance from the 9th hole. My caddie informed me that was the infamous Slains Castle and was one of the creepiest place in Scotland so be sure to never visit. He obviously didn’t know who he was talking to and for the rest of the game I hammered him with questions. When he said it was the castle that inspired Bram Stoker to write Dracula, I damn near threw my golf clubs into the sea and ran directly there.

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The next day I set out to visit Slains Castle before, what I thought to be, a mass tourist exodus. Before I get to that, can I tell you how amazed I was that for the entire trip and over 300 miles driving, I drove a manual transmission on the opposite side without incident? That was a shocker.

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The castle was not as easy to find as I had imagined. Like I said earlier, there were no signs or huge billboards like we have in the states. The ruins I saw were way off in the distance so to find the way there was pretty much a guessing game using a sense of direction. When I found a small dirt road, it didn’t feel like the way to a famous castle but like everything else on these trips, the real thing is always more impressive than your expectation little to no fanfare.

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Slains Castle is, in fact, not a tourist attraction. Actually, I don’t even think I was allowed to be there but there was absolutely no one around for miles and miles which made this visit all the more creepy. Oddly enough, later that evening I was reading up on the history of Slains Castle and there were a lot of people who die visiting there! No kidding, a woman was found dead there not long before my visit and in the recent years past people have fallen off the sea cliffs and all sorts of bizarre deaths. Kinda glad I read that after my trip.

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To be there was surreal and absolutely unnerving. It wasn’t like visiting a burnt out old building with urban legends from kids in the neighborhood. No, this was a ruin from the 14th Century that even in it’s prime was creepy enough to inspire the story of Dracula. The sounds of the North Sea crashing against the cliffs were almost completely silenced when inside the open stucture. To add to the lore, a murder of crows flew in and out of holes in the walls and some just perched staring down at you. It was as if hundreds of eyes were on you and not just the crows.

You’ll notice at the beginning of video I enter and quickly turn around. I was a little overwhelmed for some reason. Maybe it was the fact I was walking into a castle for the first time or maybe I heard something, I can’t truly recall. I do remember being shaken right away and you can clearly see that when I did a 180.

I spent roughly an hour walking through the ruins without sign of a single human. No car sounds in the distance. Not even a boat to be seen out at sea. It was such a sensory overload I had to walk out just to collect my thoughts. When navigating the halls it kinda felt like R2D2 as he(?) was stalked by Jawas. It all felt just a little too much.

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Leaving these kind of places is always weird like backing out of the driveway of the Amityville house. It is empty, you know that and I know that but deep down it feels like it isn’t. You get this sense that something is watching you leave and that dreaded sense or foreboding loneliness setting back in. Maybe I am being overly sensitive, I don’t know, but it is a real feeling that even now as I write this in bed, I get goosebumps and the hairs stand on end.

Watch my visit to Slains Castle! Sorry not sorry about the bagpipes.

 

The Banshee Labyrinth

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Oh Scotland, you have my heart. From scenery that would make the most complaisant person weep to history so rich and dark it makes every step sacred as you walk along the same streets as the Jacobites. It humbles you. That’s all I can really say. I am so enamored with history that I often wonder how I am in the business of selling the future.

Today, as we spend the last few days of the Halloween season, I take you to the self-described “most haunted bar in Scotland”, The Banshee Labyrinth. Center in the Edinburgh New City, it is a multilayered pub that offers a little something for everyone. It is only open after 4:30 but I heard it has great food, music and even a cinema. But really, at the end of the day, it is all about the atmosphere. This place is amazing and makes you feel as if you are the etherial plane, between this world and the next.

I lucked out and got a private tour from one of the managers. I knew from his Cramps t-shirt we would be best friends if I was a resident but I will take a personalized tour just the same. He goes into the darker realms of the Labyrinth and shares his stories about all the ghostly happenings in this bar. There is even a coven of witches which is said to have sealed a demonic force in a stone circle that is right above a section of the underground pool rooms. You can enter but you have to leave the same way or you risk getting really hurt. I didn’t take any chances.

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The most famous story was from a group of workers who were renovating parts of the Labyrinth and heard faint crying from one area. When they went to investigate they found a girl with long black hair weeping in the corner with her face buried in her hands. They approached her and she looked up. This is when I would have shit twice and died on the spot. She had no eyes and let out a blood-curdling scream causing the workers to flee from the building for their lives. But that isn’t the worst of it. Later in the day they all received calls informing them someone in their families had died that very afternoon. Hence the Banshee.

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So, come take a tour with me and Drew as we should you Edinburgh and Scotland’s most haunted pub, The Banshee Labyrinth.

CoD Visits Greyfriars Kirkland Cemetery!

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Holy cats, my friends! I have been to a lot of freaky locations but this one is a doozy. Smack in the center of Edinburgh, Scotland is one of the most notorious cemeteries for the macabre and bizarre not to mention widely regarded as the most haunted in the entire world. THE WORLD! This place is Greyfriars Kirkland Cemetery and though I have heard of it in the papers and watched it on travel documentaries, it almost completely overwhelmed me in person. That is really saying something because I am usually an underwhelmed sort of guy. It’s my nature.

I couldn’t believe how easy it was to find because, well, I wasn’t looking for it at that exact time. Everything in Edinburgh looks so mysterious and spooky it isn’t hard to accidentally pass a notably haunted dungeon or spooky pub when looking for something  specific. Along any search you will find so many other places. It is as if God created a holy land for weirdos like myself because around every corner is breathtaking beauty with a touch of evil.

Established in 1560, the cemetery has seen quite a lot of turmoil in the old days of Scotland. Some of the capital punishments were so insane, movies today would probably not get an ‘R’ rating if they were truly accurate. The most notorious was the judge and death-dealer George Mackenzie who got his evil notoriety for the persecution of Scottish Covenanters, a Presbyterian movement in the 17th century. He would take delight in sentencing thousands to torture and beheadings, impaling the said heads on the cemetery gate spikes. He is now located in the Greyfrair cemetery inside the Black Mausoleum but that is not where his story ends.

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Not in the 1600’s or 1700’s or even in the 1800’s but as recent as 1999 a homeless guy was caught in the brutal Scottish winter and sought shelter anywhere he could find it. In desperation he broke into the MacKenzie Black Mausoleum to escape the icy rain. While in the tomb he began to break into the coffins to see if there were any valuables worth taking to sell. He took a step backwards and the entire floor gave way below. The vagabond landed in a long forgotten sealed room but this room was not empty at all. It was full of half-decayed corpses so well-preserved from the airtight vault most still had their skin and hair even after two hundred years.

The homeless guy, obviously panicked and covered in what can only be imagined, crawled his way out of the vault and through the mausoleum. He ran screaming out of the cemetery where he was met by a police officer who was terrified by the vision he was witnessing. What emerged from the tomb ever since that night is said to be something dark and malevolent and speculated to be the ghost of George MacKenzie himself!

The locals call it the MacKenzie Poltergeist and as of today there have been hundreds of people who have lost consciousness around the Black Mausoleum and many more reporting violent attacks especially when provoking…whatever resides in this tomb. I saw the tomb with my own eyes and brother, it is as evil as you can believe. Especially at night! I’ll get to that soon.

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Walking around the grave yard was a little spooky but mostly a trip back in time. Every chiseled mural is a look back in time to when death was around every corner. From wars to occupation to the Black Plague, it is all here. There are even bars over the ground to thwart grave robbers and ghoulish doctors from exhuming fresh corpses for study. Or…whatever they did with the bodies.

Here is a short little video of my daytime visit to the Greyfriar Cemetery where you can see the black tomb and other macabre visuals. And as a bonus they had a dog blessing in the cemetery at the same time!

So, long story short…I missed my train back to Aberdeen. I was waiting on the wrong track or had a few beers or whatever. The point is I missed my ride and had to stay a night in Edinburgh. Oh shucks.

What does one do in a beautiful city with such a tortured history that predates the United States by a thousand years? One goes back to the Greyfriar Kirkland Cemetery to see if the ol’ MacKenzie Poltergeist is real, of course! And that is exactly what I did.

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Thank goodness for liquid courage because had I done this without some “spirits” I may have pissed myself. Every scene was something out of the mind of Washington Irving. From silent crows staring from the walls while strolling closer to the gates to the ghostly howl of the wind, everything was shaping up perfectly to be found in the morning, babbling like a crazy person, huddled in a crypt.

IMG-1516Once again, I found myself in the place few venture alone. There was no one in the cemetery and it was well after midnight on a weekday so the random daredevils and curious ghost hobbyists were most likely doing something more productive. The only noises were the slight breezes moving through the dead leaves that were still hanging in the low branches. It was a scene that will forever stay with me and for that I am grateful.

There it is! The infamous Black Mausoleum right in front of me in the dead of night. The place were hundreds of documented attacks and injuries were reported by some invisible force. The spot where thousands were walled up and died a torturous death. The resting spot for one of the most evil beings ever to walk the Earth. The place were hundreds were executed in ways we couldn’t imagine. And it was there in front of me as time seemed to stop.

I sat there for a while nervously watching and listening to any odd changes that seemed out-of-place to the norms of the night. I tried to get the famous nursery rhyme that is said to enrage the MacKenzie Poltergeist into acts of violence out of my head. “Bluidy Mackingie, come oot if ye daur, lift the sneck and draw the bar!”. 

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I summoned up the courage to get closer and peered into the crypt, praying that red eyes wouldn’t be staring back from the blackness. I took the pictures and shot the video (which is too dark to see) and after a few more minutes decided I had over stayed my welcome. The feelings of overwhelming dread came over me. I have had this happen before in very few places. The only way I can describe it is like standing in the ocean on a sandbar and staring off the edge into the blackness of the sea. Nothing is there that you see but there might be something that can see you. It causes you to walk a little quicker with a purpose to find a way out. No rational explanation other than the fight or flight defense that is deep within our DNA.

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I got out unscathed. For the rational and non believers this might seem like a “no kidding” moment but I challenge anyone to peer into the blackness of the Black Mausoleum that has been the source of so much violent activity, the government has a UK warning of danger in this cemetery. Something is going on.

Thanks for coming a long with me to visit the Greyfriars Kirkland Cemetery in Ediburgh! Like the Japanese haunted forest, it was something I had to do and I am glad I get to share it.

Stay tuned for the next crazy place I found! This one will blow your mind!

Halloween!

Halloween Must Go On

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Hey there! So, if you follow me on social media you may have heard about my recent run-in with the ghost of Issac Newton. Last week I was negotiating what I thought was a pretty easy obstacle at the top of a few stairs and didn’t quite make the very last few inches resulting in a pretty big crash. I managed to fall, not down, but over about six steps, knee first onto the pavement, shattering my left patella (kneecap). It was one of those injuries that you immediately know you have done something really terrible. The muscles stop working, the body goes numb and the breath is sucked out of you all at once and you basically go into damage assessment mode. At least I do, anyway. It has been a number of years since I have been injured to this degree but back then I basically had a mental checklist like a T-100 Terminator of everything that is working and not working. It’s nice to know I still have that emergency mental rational thought available. It helps to not have a panic attack like the old lady on the bathroom floor demonstrating why a “Life Alert” bracelet is so important.

I ain’t gonna lie to you guys, this sucks. It sucks to be in this much pain from simply sneezing or having to give yourself a pep-talk to just get out of a car. There is no cast since it is basically the shield for the joint so it is exposed to any accidental bumps causing an involuntary Wookie sound or two.  Worse, finding yourself on a downhill speed-hobble with crutches because no one is ever good on crutches. There is no doubt surgery is on the way but until this leg’s swelling calms down and the travels finally wrap, I have to push it off a little while. It all just kinda sucks.

I am bound and determined not to waste this year’s Halloween Hell Show on a late-in-the-season catastrophe especially after all the cool travels and exciting finds I lived through this season. I mean, some of the places I was able to visit were insane and I have to take you there. To let this slide off into the “Further” because of work and a shattered knee cap would be criminal. It has actually bothered me way more than a normal person should be bothered since all 10 people who read this probably don’t care anyway. My buddy Matt from the site Dinosaur Dracula coined the phrase years ago, “Time wants to chop off my dick and feed it to Minutes the dog”. It is true that Time is no friend to any of us so that is why we must do everything NOW, because Minutes is always begging for more.

I have no doubt that this injury will be nothing more than a positive experience. Injuries have two directions with a person especially the older they get. They can either cripple you or make you stronger. They can make you timid and weak or light a fire in you to double down and spring you back into action like a little memo from the Universe saying “Hey, we noticed you have been too complacent, recently. Here is a challenge to grow.” Challenge accepted.

Now on with the show.

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This year I was able to visit Japan, different states in the US and the Halloween Queen of Queens, Scotland. The gratitude I have for just being in these geographical locations, touching the stone of a 1,000 year old structure or talking with locals over a pint of beer, can’t be properly expressed in words. The best I can do is share this with you through video and stories because I want this to be preserved forever. I make it a point to make friends anywhere I travel and I made some pretty amazing ones this year. I kept repeating “how lucky am I” this entire season and that feeling still hasn’t diminished one ounce.

Today I am taking you to the famous Glenfriars Kirkland Cemetery in Edinburgh, Scotland. This old cemetery has a past so dark and evil, it has to be seen to be believed. I first take you there in the day time and then (after I missed my train back to Aberdeen) back at midnight while I walked alone in what is said to be the most haunted cemetery in the world! I am kinda weird like that.

Keep an eye out later this morning for this one and this afternoon we tone it down as I talk about little people in Halloween shows. I’ll explain later.

Halloween Finds at Big Lots!

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The Halloween Hell Show continues a today I want to share some items I found at Big Lots that will make the season a little more spooky. If you are a YouTube watcher and have seen these reviews you know they get pretty silly but these items are definitely worth getting your hands on. Except the candle which smells amazing and mysteriously doesn’t smell at all after it is lit. But what can I say, Big Lots is known for a bargain and just like anything in life, you get what you pay for. ALWAYS!

Tonight I take a random five items I bought for the Halloween season and give a quick report on them. I only chose five because if I was to review the twenty other items this video would be longer than the Godfather because brevity is not something I am familiar with. Each of these five really spoke to me and if you they speak to you too, hurry up down to your local Big Lots and grab them up before the non-believers of Halloween scoop them up the last weekend before Halloween. I look at those people like a pious Catholic looks at the parking situation on Easter and Christmas during mass. They aren’t real Halloween fans, the fakers!

So kick back and watch me ramble on about Halloween items made on the other side of the world by people who have no idea why we would celebrate the macabre amazingness that is Halloween.

Much love!