Thursday, October 24, 2013

Chillingham’s Torture Chamber

Chillingham is a medieval castle located in northern England in Northumberland. It is near the coast and the English-Scottish border. This castle played a significant role in the bloody war between the English and Scots in the 14th century. 

Below this castle is a small dungeon room that is by far England’s most infamous torture chamber. It is estimated that over 7500 Scots, including men, women, and children of all ages were tortured and killed in this dungeon over three years.

Chillingham Castle was an important strategic location for both the English and the Scottish during this war. It was used as a starting point for King Edwards1s armies to enter Scotland. 

The Scottish led by William Wallace-- often attacked the castle. It was at Chillingham where William Wallace made his base-camp in 1298 after a successful attack upon the English.

The following is more terrifying than most horror stories because it is true. 

The torture that took place at Chillingham resulted in more than one haunting. This dungeon chamber still vibrates with the last breath of the Scottish victims of this bloody war. 

Marks can be seen on its walls where prisoners kept track of the number of days they were tortured before death finally released them. The screams, cries, and smells of these victims--many of them innocent--are still felt, smelled and heard in several of the castle’s rooms.

The variety of torture devises used in this room is each more horrific than the last. Besides the usual implements of pain, such as a rack, thumbscrews, chains, leg irons, man traps, and an iron maiden, this chamber also had other insidious items. 

To name just a few, a boiling pot, branding irons, items used to gouge out eyes, a bed of nails, and a chair with lethal spikes on the seat.

Some captives were tied into a barrel full of spikes and then rolled around until the flesh ripped from their bodies--only death brought relief from this agony. Other victims had a cage strapped to their stomachs. Within this cage a starved rat was placed--its only way out was to eat its way out through the victim. 

The chambers’ floor was purposefully built on a slant, this was to allow body fluids, such as blood of the tortured to drain down into a trench that was at one end of the room.

Many victims had their arms and legs broken and were thrown down a twenty-foot oubliette.* They then were left to starve. Some resorted to eating chunks of other victims’ flesh or even fragments of their own in a vain effort to prolong their lives. 

The bones of the last victim to be thrown down can still be seen today. They are the bones of a female child. Her ghost has been spotted looking up at visitors.

Staff and tourists have taken photographs in this torture chamber-- strange light anomalies have shown up in their pictures. 

One Guide that gives tours of the castle states that he will not enter the torture chamber alone. He and others feel there is a very malevolent presence in this dungeon. 

Some state this ghost is the man responsible for the torture. John Sage was one of Edward Long shank’s best soldiers, rising to the rank of lieutenant. When he was wounded and could no longer fight, he asked the King for another assignment. He was then appointed Chillingham's torturer.

Sage held an intense hatred for the Scots, and he had an affinity for developing new ways to torture. Brutally, he tortured and killed fifty Scots every week. Sadly, he reached a kind of celebrity status in England during this time. ** 

When the war finally came to an end, it is stated that Sage rounded up what was left of the Scottish men, women and older children prisoners in the castle and took them into the courtyard and threw them on a bonfire.

The younger children were kept in “Edward’s Room” on the top floor in the castle as their parents burned alive. They could smell their parents burning flesh and hear their screams. Sage knowing these children would take revenge when they grew up then grabbed a small ax and chopped these children to pieces--including ones as young as a year old. 

This room is known today as the “Killing Room.” It is one of the more haunted areas in the castle. Furnishings, including a chandelier move without cause and soft voices and footsteps, are heard.

John Sage met as violent an end as most of his victims. While making love to a woman, Elizabeth Charlton, on the rack in the torture chamber he accidentally killed her. Her father was a member of a gang of outlaws who were tribal leaders and broken men, known as the Border Reivers. 

Wanting revenge for his daughter’s death, he threatened Edward Longshanks. He warned that his group would join the Scots in a battle to take Chillingham if Sage was not punished. The King knowing they would probably succeed since the war had left him broke, agreed to hang Sage.

A large, enthusiastic crowd gathered to watch Sage’s execution. He was hung from a tree near the castle grounds. As he slowly died, people cut off his fingers and toes, etc. for souvenirs. His ghost is seen and heard wandering the castle. Some witnesses state that his spirit has followed them around. People sense evil when his ghost is present.

Chillingham Castle has survived for over 800 years. Today it is open to the public for private and public events. 

Several other ghosts haunt the castle, but they are not connected to this particular point in history so I will save their stories for another post. 

This castle has so much activity that they retain their own paranormal team. Public events such as “night vigils” are regularly offered to those who are interested. Visitors can also stay in apartments within the castle.

* Oubliette is the French word for forgotten.

** To be fair, let me note--this war was cruel on both sides. The Scottish crossed the border and set churches on fire with woman and children locked inside.


Anonymous said...

Good site. Its amazing what our species is capable of doing to its self.

Virginia Lamkin said...

Unfortunately, mankind's cruelty is a common theme.