On Friday night the members of the Youth Club were taken on a ghost tour of Kirknewton. Here are some of the stories they were told.
This is the Grave of William Cullen, who was a professor of medicine at the University of
Edinburgh. He was born just over 300 years ago and had a particular connection with
He lived and worked in Edinburgh, but had a love of Kirknewton so great that he bought a house and garden here that he used to visit and work in when he was available. He was a famous doctor in the 1700s, at a time when people believed that illness was caused by an imbalance of “Humours” in the body. Doctors would test these illnesses by checking your bowel movements or urine (even tasting it!) and would treat you in grisly fashion, for example if they thought you had too much blood they would balance that out by simply “bleeding” you. The treatments were often worse than the illness. Dr Cullen also believed that, but he was also the first Dr to pay particular care to each individual and their symptoms, something that no other Dr had done before him. He was extremely wealthy as he also treated people by letter, charging huge sums to do this. However, he would often charge people for less or free if he could, so in many ways he was a good man.
There were lots of other Doctors practicing at the time who were pioneers in the field of
medicine and anatomy. How do you think they would practice? How do you think they
made their discoveries? They would dissect dead bodies! And where did they get these
dead bodies? They would buy them! In fact, supplying dead bodies to doctors was such a
lucrative business that people started robbing graves to do this! People who did this were called Resurrection Men.
Two of the most notorious grave robbers were men called Burke and Hare, who actually worked at a similar time to Dr Cullen in Edinburgh and sold bodies to one of his colleagues called John Knox. However, the supply for dead bodies was so great, as doctors could only buy the bodies or prisoners, foundlings and orphans, that they started
killing people and selling them on. They would get people drunk, take lure them away and suffocate them! They would be paid the huge sum of £7 10s per body, and killed 16 in people 10 months. They were arrested after some of Hare’s lodgers called the police and Hare actually put all the blame on Burke and got away Scot free. Burke was hanged and his skeleton is actually on display in Edinburgh’s Anatomical Medical School to this very day. The trail of Burke and Hare was heard by Lord Meadowbank of Hillhouse in Kirknewton.
The Lang Whang road, which is the road at the bottom of this hill, has many many strange sighting attached to it, ranging from Roman Soldiers to Coal Miners and their screaming children.
In fact, the strangest thing to happen on that road was Garry Wood and Colin Wright
made headlines across the globe when they revealed their extraordinary story
of being taken prisoners by extraterrestrials in a flying saucer. After being
hypnotically regressed they recalled, in astonishing detail, how they were taken on board the craft, stripped and examined by strange creatures before being returned to their vehicle on the A70 Edinburgh to Lanark road on the outskirts of the capital.
Secret Government papers revealed that the Ministry of Defence took these claims seriously enough to interview the two men and keep a report on their account. The report called “Unexplained Aerial Sighting” – is based on evidence provided by Mr Wood. About 10pm at night they spotted a “black” object in the sky above them. It had no lights, was round at the bottom, had three parts to it and was 30ft wide.
The document continues: “[Mr Wood] was driving along the A70 when the object dropped a curtain of white light in front of the car. [Mr Wood] and his friend blacked out for what seemed like ten to 15 seconds. He thought he had died.
“Then he woke up. The car was facing the other direction on the wrong side of
the road. When he checked his watch he had lost about one hour.”
According to the report, Mr Wood had contacted the police, a doctor, the BBC, a
university and even a psychologist “to get some sort of explanation”.
Mr Wood said in a newspaper interview in 1996: “I saw three creatures coming
towards my car. I felt intense pain, like an electric shock. Then I was in some
room. I saw these things like wee men moving about, doing something to me. I
could only see up. Then this 6ft creature approached. “It was white-grey in
colour with a large head and dark eyes with a long, slender neck, very slim
shoulders and waist. There were either ribs or folds of skin on its body. The
arms were like ours, but there were four very long fingers. “The little ones
[aliens] were about 3ft tall and seemed to do all the work while the big ones
did the communication.” He said one of the aliens spoke to him and said:
“Sanctuary – we are here already and we are coming here.