The Paranormal Database

Examining folkloric, paranormal & cryptozoological locations in the UK and beyond

Home > Reports: Places > Prisons

Prison Ghosts, Folklore and Forteana

Flying Lids

Location: Barnard Castle (Durham) - HMYOI Deerbolt (youth offending prison)
Type: Poltergeist
Date / Time: 2014
Further Comments: During a month in 2014 it was reported that lighting was switched off and on again and on one night, two bin lids were found spinning on the floor. The area was locked down as member of staff who spotted the lids feared an offender was loose, but CCTV footage showed the lids flying off the bins unaided.


Location: Belfast (County Antrim) - Belfast Prison
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: October 1986
Further Comments: A prison officer reported hearing heavy rubber-soled boots while on his rounds, even though all staff were issued with sneakers. Believing his co-workers were playing a joke on him, he checked up on them, and found that they were playing cards. A couple of hours later, the officer heard a voice call out 'numbers C3', though once again could not find who was responsible. Asking his co-workers if they were 'playing around', they denied it, and recommended that the officer did not say anything to anyone.

Face in a Coffin

Location: Belfast (County Antrim) - Crumlin Road Prison (now a museum)
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: A visitor who lay in a coffin for a photograph later realised that the captured image showed a strange face next to his. It is worth noting that the photograph is likely to be a case of pareidolia rather than the paranormal. The prison is also home to a phantom man seen walking down C Wing, and the sounds of both male and female voices.


Location: Bodmin (Cornwall) - Bodmin Jail (no longer a prison)
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: 2003, 2005
Further Comments: After spending a night at the jail in 2005, a ghost hunting group reported recording EVP containing a strange grunt. Members of the organisation also reported having stones thrown at them, even though they were alone. A couple of years prior to this, a woman was left with a feeling of great uneasiness when visiting the site and was left perturbed when a door slammed shut in front of her, with no visible reason for closing.


Location: Castlerea (County Roscommon) - Castlerea Prison
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: November 2008
Further Comments: Castlerea Prison hit the news after claims that an exorcism was required to dismiss strange paranormal activity occurring in the gym. Governor Dan Scannel denied the reports.

David Davies

Location: Dartmoor (Devon) - Prison
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Weather dependent: Misty nights (Davies)
Further Comments: Davies tended to the prison sheep between 1869 and 1929. He died soon after being released, but his ghost returned, walking the prison grounds on misty nights. The prison is also haunted by French PoWs from the Napoleonic wars, while some inmates believe jackdaws which fly around the area contain the souls of dead staff.

The Condemned

Location: Derby (Derbyshire) - Derby Gaol (former prison), Friargate
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: 2002
Further Comments: An Australian tourist who decided to spend the night in this haunted building, a former jail, reported hearing strange sounds during the night. She also reported that her pillow moved by itself.


Location: Douglas (Isle of Man) - Victoria Road prison
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: 1967-2008
Further Comments: Norman Quilliam reported hearing of several ghosts while he worked here including banging on the ceiling of a cell in which someone had committed suicide.


Location: Dublin (County Dublin) - Kilmainham Gaol (former prison, now a museum)
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Late twentieth century
Further Comments: While being renovated, workers in this old gaol reported hearing strange footsteps. Other visitors have reported the feeling of being watched.

Murdered Inmate

Location: Durham (Durham) - Durham Prison
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Mid twentieth century
Further Comments: A ground floor cell is said to be haunted by the scene of one prisoner murdering another with a table knife.

Young Woman

Location: Durham (Durham) - HMP Low Newton Prison
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: 26 February 2011
Further Comments: A prisoner reported seeing a woman standing by a window in their cell. A guard later told them that someone had committed suicide in the spot the figure had stood.

Dead Prisoners

Location: EC4 (Greater London) - Former site of Newgate Prison
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Late nineteenth / early twentieth century
Further Comments: Newgate was haunted by several ghosts. Footsteps were reported along Dead Man's Walk late at night, one warden reported seeing the face of a decaying, hanged man in a cell, while others reported seeing an aging female form in the yard.

Kirkyard, Coventanter's Prison, Edinburgh.

Bluidy MacKenzie

Location: Edinburgh (Lothian) - Kirkyard, Coventanter's Prison
Type: Poltergeist
Date / Time: 1996
Further Comments: While George MacKenzie has been blamed for the phantom attacks on sightseers at this locale, other people say it is the spirits of the prisoners. Either way, many visitors on the local 'ghost walks' have been pinched, pushed, pulled, and even cut while at this spooky site.

Lady Charlotte Watson-Taylor

Location: Erlestoke (Wiltshire) - Erlestoke Prison and village
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: Both prison workers and villagers have reported seeing this phantom lady inspecting the prison grounds, and even driving her horse and carriage over a road close by where a bridge once stood.

The Last Executed

Location: Exeter (Devon) - Exeter prison
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: 1973
Further Comments: Two prisoners reported seeing a middle-aged man walking along the upper gallery, vanishing as he reached a cell door. After staff carried out a little research, they discovered the man was the last person to be executed in the prison.

Woman with a Lantern

Location: Glasgow (Lanarkshire) - Barlinnie Prison
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: The area outside the surgery wing and the bricked up entrance to the old execution block are home to a phantom woman dressed in Victorian clothing, holding a lantern.

Female Prisoner

Location: Gloucester (Gloucestershire) - Prison (closed 2013)
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Prior to twenty-first century
Further Comments: This ghost is thought to be a woman held in the cells of the nearby abbey - she now appears in the jail and mocks the prisoners. Another story says she was killed by an inmate and returns to continue her search for him. Activity is said to be particularly strong in cell 25 on the A3 landing.

An old postcard of Lancaster Castle.


Location: Lancaster (Lancashire) - Lancaster Castle (prison)
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Stories from twentieth century, and experiences in 2008 and 2010
Further Comments: This building is said to hold both prisoners and several ghosts. A middle-aged woman with a young girl were reported moving around near a cell, while another prisoner again reported the young girl, but his time with a haggard old woman. Also, the grey form of a monk has been seen, reportedly once hanged here. An inmate experienced a shadowy figure which walked past him and mild poltergeist effects in 2008, while in 2010 another prisoner was awoken by their bed violently shaking and the sound of horses' hooves.

Travelling Light

Location: Leeds (Yorkshire) - Armley Prison
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: 1990s, 2014
Further Comments: This phantom manifests as a light that moves around the cells. One former employee reported prison officers in Victorian uniform and the sounds of clanging chains, with the most paranormally active areas being the new wings which were constructed over executed prisoner's graves.

Victorian Woman

Location: Lewes (Sussex) - Lewes Prison
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: 1990s
Further Comments: This ghostly figure is thought to have dropped dead in the prison after seeing a relative in the nineteenth century.

The Victorian Prison within Lincoln Castle.

White Woman

Location: Lincoln (Lincolnshire) - Victorian Prison, Lincoln Castle
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Woman unknown, footsteps in October 2003
Further Comments: This pale woman is thought to have been a former prisoner who died during her stay. Witnesses have also reported the sounds of doors slamming and keys jangling in the area. One witness heard footsteps and the rustling of a dress - when they looked around, no one could be seen.

William Kennedy

Location: Liverpool (Merseyside) - Walton Gaol, prison cell G2
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: Executed for murdering a policeman in the 1920s, Kennedy's shade remains in his former cell and continues to unnerve inmates.

White Lady

Location: Longforgan (Perth and Kinross) - HMP Castle Huntly, open prison
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: Her white robes flowing as she walks, the white lady is said to leapt from the battlements to escape punishment after being caught with a manservant. A young boy that also haunts the site is thought to be Richard Paterson who drowned in the Tay in 1939.

Does an executioner haunt this prison?

Man in Dark Suit

Location: Manchester (Greater Manchester) - Strangeways Prison, condemned cell, B Wing
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Late twentieth century
Further Comments: This phantom man wearing a dark suit and carrying a briefcase has been reported by staff. If followed, he vanishes near the condemned cell. Some have named him as John Ellis, a former executioner who committed suicide in 1932.

Young Girl

Location: Northallerton (Yorkshire) - Northallerton Prison (no longer operational)
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Pre-January 2014
Further Comments: The prison was said to be haunted by the ghost of an eleven-year-old girl imprisoned for stealing bread.

Records 1 - 25 of 34

Quick Links
Contribute to the Paranormal Database

Reports: Places
View Reports: Places

Reports: Type
Reports: Type

Reports: People
View Reports: People

View the Paranormal Database Calendar