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Old Blacksmiths Shop, Gretna Green
The following article by Sue Crawford entitled 'Ghost hunt at Gretna's famous Blacksmiths Shop' was published in the News & Star on 8 August 2013.
Paranormal investigators are to hold a vigil after reports of “terrifying” incidents at Gretna Green’s famous Blacksmiths Shop
Staff at the world-famous marriage centre say they have seen a mysterious grey figure appearing out of nowhere, books flying off shelves and have heard unexplained footsteps in the building, which aptly has the address Headless Hill.
Ghost-hunters have experienced a drop in temperature and a “strong presence” in rooms which adjoin the building which has witnessed countless runaway weddings from young couples taking advantage of Scotland’s lenient marriage laws.
Now Dumfries and Galloway paranormal team Mostly Ghostly Investigations is to spend a night inside the attraction’s Wee Big Shop and its adjoining restaurant on August 16.
Cath Johnston, who manages the shop, has experienced some of the spooky happenings at first hand.
“Ever since a wall was knocked down inside the shop in March 2012 to give us more room spooky things have been happening,” she said. “It got to the point where I asked for someone to be with me when I opened up in the morning.”
After a preliminary visit paranormal investigator John Hill sensed a strong presence at one particular point in the room.
“The temperature had dropped and I felt as if someone was watching me,” he said.
“It’s interesting that these events started happening after a wall was knocked down as paranormal activity is often associated with renovation or demolition of a property.”
He went on: “Something has possibly been disturbed which may well be connected to these unusual reports”.
John also picked up on a strong presence in the kitchen of the restaurant.
Cath together with shop assistant colleagues David Edgar, Karen Nicholson, Rachel Dalton and restaurant manager Bill Hudson, have all seen and felt things that they cannot explain or pass off as their imagination running away.
“I used to be sceptical about these things but not anymore,” said Bill.
“There is something out of the ordinary here. I’ve seen a grey figure in a cloak standing watching me and then it disappears.
“And sometimes when I have been doing my bookwork in my office, after the restaurant has closed to the public and everyone has gone home, I have heard loud footsteps in the corridor outside. When I have rushed outside there is no-one there.”
In another incident a book about Highland cattle jumped from a shelf and hit Rachel Dalton. On another day the same book was found lying on the floor.
A plastic beaker cup also sprung off a rack and flew past David, and Karen was hit by a flying key.
“I had gone into the storage room and suddenly something smacked me on the head and a key clattered to the floor,” she said. “When we tried to find out what the key was for – as we had not seen it before – no-one knew.”
Cath was so spooked by one experience that she ran out of one part of the shop.
“I was at the back of the shop doing the papers when I heard a tapping noise,” she said. “I went to see if someone was at the windows or door but no-one was there.”