Ghosts are something from another time; an age of superstition when people feared vampires rising from the ground, werewolf attacks and villagers who considered burning the old lady at the end of the village as a witch. Today it would be rare to find a believer in vampires, but ghosts are a whole different story – many people continue to believe in them. But what are ghosts? Here are a few theories that have tried to explain them.

When you say nuclear power station you don’t immediately think of ghosts, but at Wylfa on the Island of Anglesey they have been plagued by them since the 1960s. The first haunting caused quite a stir: when the cooling tunnels were being dug, the sound of Opera singing began echoing around the narrow confines. It grew louder every night until the huge Irish labour force fled and refused to come back until something was done. The power company had to bring over a Catholic priest from Ireland to perform an exorcism and it came to light that a famous singer had once lived there. Six workers died in the building of the plant and from time to time they were also said to make an appearance and additionally, a cottage on site is haunted by an elderly couple. But by far the most sinister of Wylfa’s ghost was that of an elderly man. In life he’d been blamed by many for the murder of a milkmaid. This ghost is said to haunt Wylfa’s canteen and numerous cleaners working at night claimed to hear footsteps behind them and many quit soon after. Things took a turn for the worst when one cleaner said the ghost was following her home and that she could hear him outside her bedroom door. Since then all cleaning is done during the day.

This may sound childish, but it still shows that ghosts, whether real or not, still haunt the minds of people. Making an entire labour force flee is quite an achievement for something which many say doesn’t exist.

The first theory regarding ghosts is that they are essentially a recording of what has happened in the past. A good way to illustrate this is when ghosts are reported to go through walls. Examination often reveals a bricked up doorway in the wall that they would have used in life. Also their feet don’t always line up with the floor if the ground level has changed; an example of this is found in York, where the cellar of a National Trust house is supposedly visited by marching Roman soldiers. Their knees are level with the floor as the surface they would have walked on, a Roman road, lies just over a foot below the cellar floor.

Another theory is that ghosts are actually glimpses of parallel worlds. The fact that they don’t line up exactly with modern surroundings suggests that they are walking on the right surface, just in their own world. This could explain why some ghosts are said to interact with people but fails to explain why ghosts are often doing the same thing every time they are seen.

The final and most obvious theory for ghosts is that it’s all in people’s heads. Sudden drafts and creaking floorboards can quickly become monsters in your mind. Believing a ghost is there only makes it worse by providing more food for your imagination to play with. Undoubtedly most ghost sightings are caused by over-active imaginations.

But where do the stories come from in the first place? How is it that ghost sightings and stories are fairly uniform in their description around the world? And how do you explain the photos with ghosts in them?

People say that ghosts are just superstition, however so many people still believe in them all over the world. After all everyone loves a ghost story…

Tim Winstanley 

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