• JM Gray

digging up old ghosts.

Updated: Nov 25, 2021

When I was asked to write a guest blog by Suzie Lennox from DiggingUp1800, I jumped at the chance. DigingUp1800 looks at the darker side of graveyards and specifically the subject of grave robbing.

I've loved reading about Suzie's research and seeing her pictures from across the UK (and beyond). If you don't already follow Suzie, just search DiggingUp1800 on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. You can also subscribe to the blog at DigingUp1800.

Here's my contribution to the subject...

There are countless ghost stories that hail from the UK's churchyards and cemeteries, but surprisingly there are only a few in connection with grave robbing.

Of course, there is the classic tale of The Lady with the Ring, where a wealthy woman is laid to rest in the family mausoleum, wearing her beloved diamond ring. A local grave robber learns of this and, during the night, decides to pay her a visit. Unable to remove the ring, he takes a knife to her wrist, which, after some hacking, wakes her from her slumber. Surprise! She isn't dead after all; however, the grave robber keels over and dies from the shock of it all. Just deserts, one might say!

It's a wonderful legend that has its roots set in almost every county of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland; therefore, I lean towards it being, more likely than not, a work of fiction.

A story that may have a little more provenance is that of Mary Witherspoon, who passed away in Stirling, Scotland in 1823. Although grave robbing wasn't prominent in Stirling, the resurrection men came for Mary, and her remains were sold for medical dissection and study.

In the (almost) 200 years that have followed, there have been numerous sightings of The Pink Lady of the Auld Kirkyard, which is believed to be the restless spirit of Mary.

The story goes that grave robbers were quickly caught and brought to justice; however, Mary's remains could not be found. Therefore, her spirit can not rest until she is reunited with her remains and reinterred. So until that day, she walks the area between the medieval Church of the Holy Rude (pictured below) and Stirling Castle, searching for her mortal remains.

Her apparition is referred to as the Pink Lady as witnesses always describe her as having a pink glow. It is also said that whenever she is seen, a strong fragrance of roses lingers in the air, long after she has vanished.

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