Borley Rectory is one of the most haunted houses in England. It has become infamous for ghostly sightings. The house was built in the year 1863 on a site that has been claimed to be a Monastery priorly. As the story goes the first occupants of this house were the family of Reverend Henry Bull. The family had 14 children and some staff members. There were strange happenings immediately after the Bull family moved into the house. Initially there were ghostly footsteps and whispers heard. Reverend Bull was quite puzzled about the cause of these haunting. So he delved into the history of his property.
Ruins of the Borley Rectory
As the story goes there was a monastery at the very place. In this monastery once a monk and a nun fell in love. They eloped from the monastery, but unfortunately they were intercepted. Both of them faced severe punishment. While the monk was executed, the nun on the other hand was bricked alive. Since then the souls of these two lovers were trying to find each other in the confines of this property.
Strange Ghost Writings asking for help from Marianne
The Bull family soon found out that the haunting changed in nature. Occasionally the residents saw the nun peeping through the window; she would even appear in broad daylight but vanish when approached. As days passed another apparition was witnessed, the residents saw a coach with galloping horses. All these haunting were disturbing but never harmful.
Harry Price who studied strange happenings at Borley Rectory
This too changed with the course of time. Reverend Bull was forced to sell the property to Reverend Guy Smith in 1928. They also saw the ghosts and additionally found a human skull hidden in one of the cupboards. The Smiths employed paranormal investigator Harry Price to find the real reasons. Once Price arrived at the house the haunting became more violent in nature. There were objects thrown across the rooms and rappings on the walls. When Price left the house the haunting calmed down again. Scared Smiths left the house in 1929 and it was occupied by Reverend Lionel Foyster and his family. After the Foysters left in 1937, Price rented the house for further investigations. He appointed 48 people who would stay at the house on alternative days. Most of them were threatened that the house would be burned down. Then in 1939 an oil lamp mysteriously fell over and the house caught fire. Most of the property was devastated. After the fire calmed down Price found some bones in the Rectory and he took them to the nearby cemetery to bury them. The rectory was never rebuilt; it was demolished in the year 1944.
Edgar Allan Poe is a well reputed author in the present era. But he was not much highly acclaimed in his own days. He had to spend his days in extreme poverty and had hardly enough money for alcohol. The writer passed away on October 7, 1849 under mysterious circumstances. There were many unanswered questions about the days leading up to his death.
Edgar Allan Poe a notable author of our times
Though Edgar Allan Poe was the father of “who done it” genre but his tales and poems were least popular among the masses. He gained popularity only after death. His last days were shrouded with Gothic mystery. Prior to his death Poe disappeared for many days and upon his return he died. If we follow the itinerary mentioned in his schedule he left Richmond on 27 September. He arrived at Baltimore next day and from there he was scheduled to catch a train to Philadelphia, where he had a very important meeting. From Philadelphia Poe had to travel to New York City to meet his mother-in-law Maria Clemm.
It is certain that he took a boat to Baltimore and arrived at the city. But he never reached Philadelphia. There is no record about five days of his life from 28 September – 3 October. On 3 October he was found in an incoherent state near a tavern in Baltimore. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where he died on 7 October. There are various other things that thicken the mystery even further.
Edgar Allan Poe died under mysterious
circumstancesAfter submitted to the hospital Poe constantly took the name of some Reynolds. But no one with the name has been found. When found the clothes that Poe was wearing were different from the ones he had worn on his travel to Baltimore. He had a cheap palm leaf hat (which had mud all over), he had a second hand cheap coat and shirt and trousers that were loose (not of his size).
Edgar Allan Poe had even checked his luggage into a hotel at Baltimore. But Poe was scheduled to travel to Philadelphia soon after his arrival at Baltimore. Scholars feel knowing Poe he would not have checked in to a hotel for such a short duration. So, why did he check in?
Edgar Allan Poe’s Grave in
BaltimoreThere was an earlier theory that stated: Poe’s travel to Philadelphia coincided with Election Day and it was a common practice to restrain travelers to rig votes in those days. But further study reveals that no such thing happened. Then, what is the reason for such mysterious incidence? There is no answer.
Dr. Duncan MacDougall was a highly respected physician hailing from Haverhill. He was also the head of the Research Society that was conducting several experiments to find answers to certain spiritual aspects of the human beings. Dr. MacDougall conducted a strange experiment on 10 April, 1901 in his laboratory at Dorchester, Massachusetts. He tried to prove that the human soul has a mass and it was easily measurable.
Dr. Duncan MacDougall – The Pioneer of 21 Grams Experiment
The experiment was conducted by Dr. MacDougall upon six patients. These patients were in their last stage and just about to die. There was special Fairbanks weight scales arranged. The idea was to lay the patients while alive on the weighing instruments and take a note of their weight. The patients would be kept on the weighing machine until they died. Once the patient died another weight will be taken. If there was a difference in the body weight then the theory of Dr. MacDougall that soul has a weight will be established.
Out of these six patients, two were suffering from Tuberculosis. Five of the patients were men while one was a woman. First patient was laid on the Fairbanks weight and his original weight (prior to death) was noted. But after the patient died a strange thing happened. The beam end dropped suddenly. There was a loss of three-fourths of an ounce in weight. The experiment was conducted upon other patients too with varying results. The decrease in body weight was different for different patients.
Fairbanks Weight Scales were used to take weights of patients
One of the patients showed a strange symptom. The body weight of this patient did not decrease after death. All the physicians were astounded. But one minute after death the body mass started decreasing. Dr. MacDougall explained this phenomenon. He felt that the phlegmatic man was slow, he had been immobile for many years prior to his death, thus there was time taken for his soul to be release.
Success of the Experiment Received Fair Press Coverage
There was a lot of writing in the newspapers after the success of this experiment. But the news of this experiment was soon suppressed by the religious fanatics. Moreover, all the experiments conducted by Dr. Duncan MacDougall at a later date were failure. He tried to capture the image of the soul leaving human body, in which he failed.
Marco Polo is one of history’s greatest explorers and his fame was established by journeys to China and the Far East. But modern day scholars feel Marco Polo never went to China. They think that the Venetian merchant adventurer picked up second hand stories about Japan, China and Mongol Empire from other Persian merchants he met during his voyage to the shores of Black Sea (which is thousands of miles short of the Oriental Empires). He put all the stories told by the Persian merchants together and used the information for his bestselling book “A Description of the World”. This is one of the first travel books of its type.
Marco Polo is a famous explorer for his travel to China and Far East
As a proof of their findings the archaeologists point to the inconsistencies and inaccuracies in Marco Polo’s description of Kublai Khan’s attempted invasions of Japan in 1284 and 1281. Scholars feel Marco confused two details – about the first expedition and second expedition. In his account of Kublai Khan’s invasion he states that the fleet left Korea and was hit by a typhoon before reaching Japanese coast. These events happened in 1281 and not in Kublai Khan’s first expedition. It is unbelievable that an eye witness could confuse events that were separated by seven years.
Manuscript of A Description of the World
Recently the remnants of Marco Polo’s fleet were found. There is a sharp contrast between the real ships and their description by Marco Polo. The Venetian described the ships as having five masts but the ships found have only three masts. Such contrast in facts raised doubts over Marco’s expedition.
Remnants of Kublai Khan’s lost fleet were found
Further, Marco Polo describes Kublai Khan’s fleet using pitch to make their ship hulls watertight. He used the word ‘chunam’ which means ‘nothing’ in Chinese and Mongol. But this same word means pitch in Persian. Most of the local names and place names are Persian terms for Chinese or Mongol place names.
Marco Polo claimed to be an emissary to the court of Kublai Khan but no records are found
Marco Polo had also claimed that he worked as an emissary to the court of Kublai Khan. But the Mongol and Chinese records from those times do not have Marco Polo’s name anywhere. In his book Marco maintained a first person narrative, but in the sections about China and Mongolia he reverts to a second person narrative as though he had heard about these from someone else. Marco Polo is also known to be an acute observer of daily life and rituals. But some of the prominent customs in China such as chopsticks, tea drinking or the Great Wall find no mention in his work.
At times mythology is more interesting than true facts. According to a legend in the 13th century in the present day country of Czech Republic a monk was condemned to be walled alive in a room of the monastery where he resided. The monk had violated some regulations and committed serious crimes.
Devil’s Bible or Codex Gigas
To get a retrieve from death he made a deal with the superiors. He promised to create a copy of Bible written by hand within one night. This was an astonishing task and the monks believed it could not be completed. So they approved. They decided that the monk would be set free if the task was accomplished. The monk set upon his task. Into his task he realised no matter how hard he tried the Bible could not be copied before morning. Around midnight the monk made a pact with the devil (the Prince of Darkness). He promised that if the task was completed devil could not only have his soul but a large and horrifying portrait of the devil will be included in the Bible.
Devil’s Bible is the largest surviving Medieval Manuscript
The devil agreed and the following morning when the other monks entered they found a massive book in the room. They inspected the book carefully and it contained all contents of Bible as promised. So the monk was released. This book came to be known as Codex Gigas (Giant Book) or the Devil’s Bible. The monastery soon became a site for pilgrimage. Scholars analysing the book claim that it is 36 inches tall, 20 inches wide and nine inches thick. The book weighs 160 pounds and holds the title for largest medieval manuscript known till date. The pages of this book are made of donkey skin.
Devil’s Image is found in the Book
But the Devil’s Bible very mysteriously is incomplete. Some pages of this book are missing. Some scholars feel these missing pages contained some information that would be too sinister to reveal. The book contains Testaments of the Bible, medical texts, ancient encyclopaedia and a calendar. The threads of this legend are contained within the book; there is a large portrait of the devil in the book. Scholars believe that instead of one night the book might have been compiled in 20 years.
The book remained at the monastery till 1594 after which it was presented to the Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolf II. It remained with the emperor till 1648. It was taken away by the victorious Swedes to Stockholm. When a fire broke out in the Swedish Royal Library in 1697 the book was thrown out of the upper story window to save it. Some of the pages got loose and were lost in the process.
Latest excavations into an unexcavated Maya city have brought forward a mural within a Maya house. But this is no simple mural. In addition to the image of a king and his subject, the walls of the room are filled with different calculations. These are calculations for vast amounts of time and they definitely outlive 2012. These markings suggest that Maya scholars made predictions many thousands of years in advance from where we stand. This room also offers a rare glimpse into the inner Mayan society.
Mayan mural found in forests of Guatemala
This mural and room were found within the 6 square miles spanning jungle floor. The site was found by a group of archaeologists in search of looters tunnel. They found the faintest trace of paint on a thin stucco wall. Soon the researchers cleared up the mud that had accumulated on the walls over 1200 years. And more red paint appeared from the walls.
Archaeologists cleared the mud from walls to find the mural
Soon the team confirmed that this was an ancient workstation for Mayan record keepers and scribe writers. Within this workstation people sat on the benches and worked. They painted books and maintained records that have been lost with time. These books could be filled with elaborate calculations that predict the city’s future. There fixed tabulations made on the walls which could be referred to by the scholars while carrying out calculations. It is just like the tables that are given at the back of a Chemistry book.
Calculations on the Walls of Mayan Workstation
The workstation was lost with time. Erosion and creeping up of plant life also led to the anonymous remaining of this Mayan workstation. This small building is located close to a Mayan plaza. This plaza in turn is encircled by pyramids where kings and priests conducted various types of ceremonies. There are fragments of slay pots found all through the forests that suggests existence of peddlers selling these clay pots. This city is just five miles from a prominent Mayan metropolis, San Bartolo.
Herod the Great was a fabled King of Judeaea. He died in 4 BC. Though this great king died more than 2,000 years ago but his final resting place was never found. Most experts narrowed their search for the tomb to Herodium, a grand complex that was designed by the King himself on a man-made hill which was located south of Jerusalem. There was a biography about Herod less than a hundred years after his death. This biography contained indepth details about where within the Herodium the great king was buried.
Herodium was mentioned as Herod’s final resting place
Though there were so prominent clues still searches for Herod’s tomb did not succeed until very recently. Herod died in Jericho to a nasty kidney disease that led to development of a nasty gangrene. After his death there was an enormous funeral procession and Herod’s body was carried on a golden briar to the edge of Judaean desert. He was buried within the beloved Herodium. Herodium is built on a volcano shaped hill which is located at about 8 miles south of the modern day city of Jerusalem. This white stone building was Herpd’s desert retreat. It had a fortified palace, administrative buildings, ritual baths and gardens.
Base of the Herodium
Accounts of Herod’s funeral made most experts believe that the tomb would be found at the base of Herodium. There were decades of search within the lower complex of Herodium but the tomb was not found. Then in 2006 researchers noticed an out of place section within the wall which is halfway up the hill. They started digging and hit upon a slab of high quality and highly ornamented pink limestone. After digging deeper they found an ornamented sarcophagus, which would be fit for a king as great as Herod.
Stairs inside the Herodium
There were remains of a huge staircase which lead to the burial site uncovered. Another section which was thought to be a hippodrome was also uncovered. Later this hippodrome was conceived as the area staging Herod’s funeral. There was also a monument about 80 feet tall that marked the King’s tomb.
Ornate Sarcophagus of King Herod
Most of the tomb is in ruins, may be due to damages inflicted by the Jewish rebels who disliked Herod. Such a revolt took place in the late 60s AD. Though the tomb and sarcophagus were found, but Herod’s bones were not. It is probable they were put away by some rebels.
Herodium still stands tall and is protected by Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority.