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24 September 2014
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Prisoners at Bodmin Jail

Spooky times at Bodmin's old jail

By Dave Wood from Paranormal Site Investigations
The south west based Paranomal Site Investigations team has been spending time at Bodmin's famous jail. Dave Wood from the team has written about the visit...


Southwest ghosthunting team Paranormal Site Investigators recently visited Bodmin Gaol in Cornwall in their search for paranormal phenomena.

Bodmin Jail dates back to 1776 and was the site of many public executions.

Outside Bodmin Jail

The last hanging took place in 1909 and the Crown Jewels and Doomsday Book were stored at the jail during the First World War.

Read this exclusive report written by the team's Dave Wood, then let us know your thoughts and feelings about the old jail.

"Built in 1777, completed in 1860, Bodmin Gaol housed over 150 prisoners, with 55 executed through hanging.  The Gaol has several claims to historical importance, including being the location of the last public hanging in Britain and as the location of treasures such as the Crown Jewels and the Domesday Book in times of national crisis.
Since the Gaol’s doors shut in 1922 the site has been used as a nightclub, and later a restored public house and museum.

Bodmin Gaol is also famed for its alleged hauntings, attracting the attention of visitors, TV cameras and paranormal investigation organisations. Reported phenomena include apparitions of apparent former prisoners, the hearing of voices and other unexplained noises, light anomalies seen by eye, temperature fluctuations, touching sensations and the sense of oppression.

Eight researchers from PSI, along with a camera-person from BBC TV, recently conducted an overnight investigation of the Gaol.

A 'prisoner' in Bodmin Jail

During vigils held throughout the night, PSI monitored environmental fluctuations, recorded empirically perceived phenomena and attempted to capture evidence through stills cameras, video cameras and audio recorders.

Environmental fluctuations measured included ambient and spot temperature, electro-magnetic frequency, humidity and air pressure.  There were no statistically significant deviations from the baseline norm throughout the night that could not be attributed to natural factors.

Audio footage was taped during EVP (electro-voice phenomena) experiments.  A ‘grunt’ was taped during the experiment.  Whilst of interest the evidence was discarded due to large number of uncontrollable variables that could have caused the noise, and the inevitable fallibility of human recollection surrounding the event.

Audio and visual footage provided inconclusive results.  Dozens of ‘orbs’ and light anomalies were identified at the first stage of analysis.  Most were ruled out on closer inspection as dust, moisture, airborne particles or insects.  For the remainder, the possibility of natural causes could still not be ruled out.

In the stocks

A large number of perceived events were recorded including seeing explained figures, cold spots, oppressive atmospheres and unusual sounds.  Whilst of lay interest, all such experiences must be discounted on a scientific basis.  Not all factors can be controlled during investigations, and the causes could conceivably be psychological, psychological or due to natural factors not identified.

The only significant incident during the investigation was a number of small stones hitting investigators and pieces of equipment.  A structural analysis of the rooms was conducted following the events, and material of the ceilings and walls, as well as the speed and trajectory made a ‘natural’ cause less likely.  Additionally the spot temperature of the stones was twice that of the atmosphere and similar stones, suggesting heat or energy behind the stone. 

The heat factor raises the possibility of non-human or human interference.  It was verified that no winged animals reside within the Gaol, and  that smaller animals could not have caused the effect.  The possibility, however, of cause by a non-human animal cannot be ruled out due to the uncontrolled environment.

The possible cause by human intervention outside the group was effectively ruled out, due to the structurally isolated nature of the rooms, and visual equipment trained on the door to the room.

The cause of these stones being thrown is at present unknown, but as not all natural possibilities could be ruled out it cannot be concluded that the events were paranormal in nature.

This report was produced by Dave Wood from the PSI team which spent a night at Bodmin's old jail recently. The views expressed in this report are those of the PSI  members who were present on the night.

last updated: 25/08/05
Have Your Say
Now you have read the report, let us know if you have experienced any strange incidents while visiting the Bodmin based attraction.
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The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

J Clifton
When we was at Bodmin gaol this year we took lots of pictures and everyone had orbs on bright white and some like shadows, we even have a small lady in a red dress and blck cloak siting out side one of the cells upstairs but there was no one there when we took the picture. My daughter felt ill all the way round and she was fine before going in and when we left.

chloe.c
im going bodmin jail this weekend and i am sssssooooo scared

carolyn
I went to Bodmin Jail last year but did not actually go inside as we had a yong child with us and he did not want to go in. We did however make our way to the bottom of the jail and went inside. It was really atmospheric and cold even though it was a boiling hot summers day. It felt like somebody was watching me all the time I was there, I will never forget that strange errie feeling

karen jones
i visited bodmin jail last week october 23rd 2005 i took photos in there, and they had lots of orbs on them but most did not .

kirsty andrews
I have visited bodmin gaol and it did not feel spooky although on on of my photos in the outside part of the gaol i have these amazing bright white dots which are not dust.

judie felkin
I attended a fright night at bodmin gaol and i was scared stiff.A friend of mine was in a cell on his own and heard a sound,like a foot scraping along a gravelly floor.there was no one else in there.later the medium we were with went into a trance in the long room.At one point he was taken over by a 'spirit' that dragged his foot across the floor-needless to say it scared the wotsits out of us!

nikita
i visted bodmin jail twice and thought it was a really spooky place as soon as i walked trough the doors entering the jail i had a horrible feeling come over me and it lasted untill i got out but i will most certainly be visting again

Roni
I have visited Bodmin Jail and it is indeed spooky - the inside didn't give me anything, but my first view of the building at dusk one night, with a mist - gave me a phenomal feeling that there were a great many spirits around.

Dave Wood
Dear Andrew Sheppard, 90-odd percent of researcher are sure that 90-odd percent of 'orbs' are natural. The other few percent may, or may not, remain inexplicable. Theories suggest these are a form of energy or even manifestation of spirit, but these theories have no scientific basis. As for those that are explainable, orbs tend to be caused by the reflection or refraction of light. Specifically, it is caused by the flash light hitting reflecting from a surface within range of the camera. The 'orb' you see is typically either dust or moisture, caught on the lens of the camera. Less perfect ‘orbs’ may also be insects. Its worth nothing that this is mostly a digital-camera phenomena and almost only occurs when the flash is used. Best wishes, Dave Wood

caroline
i have been there and i thought it was scary

Lucy-Claire
I used to work at bodmin jail and is spooky, the possibility of ghosts up there are obvious

Andrew Sheppard
I recently went to Bodmin Jail and from all the DIGITAL photographs my dad took there are loads of these perfectly circular white spheres or 'orbs'. how do you explain this?

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