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How Well Do You Know Your Ghosts, Mysteries and Myths, Old And New?

'Tis the time of year for ghost-stories, real and fictional mysteries, myths and the like - ancient and right up-to-date. Test your own knowledge with these ten questions, just for fun ! (Hint: not all are "paranormal".

1)     In Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the first manifestation experienced by Ebenezer Scrooge was;

      a)     Eerie echoes from the cellar, from him slamming his front door,

      b)     The face of his deceased business partner, Jacob Marley,

      c)     The face of his deceased father.


2)     In 1917, two young English girls took photographs of fairies widely acclaimed as genuine by photography experts and others including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Did they?


3)     What is so unique about the sea area often called the ‘Bermuda Triangle’, to lead to its reputation?


4)     Charles Dickens again: in his ghost story The Signalman, the first portents were:

      a)     A locomotive whistle but a train neither expected nor appearing.

      b)     The figure of a man at the tunnel portal, apparently waving a warning,

      c)     Strange ringing of the block-telegraph bell.


5)     A Very Modern one. It has recently been claimed that the hull damage leading to the loss of the ‘Titanic’ was greatly worsened by the rivets being of inferior steel, rich in slag inclusions. True or False – a bonus point if you can explain.


6)     In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the Three Witches’ prophecies include “When Birnam Wood to High Dunsinane Hill shall come”. The hill is genuine, but what did the witches mean, as duly revealed?


7)     The celebrated “escapologist” and stage magician Harry Houdini was one of the first to expose as fraudulent, a cynical 19C trade exploiting the bereaved. It was:

       a)     A bogus embalming method eerily but unknowingly presaging today's modern cryo-preservation experiment on dead people.

       b)     Seances

      c)      Buying from shady undertakers, the corpses of people who had died alone and in penury, and passing them off for "recovery expenses" as the " eventually found" bodies of men lost in marine or mining accidents. The latter late's family would then have a coffin containing a body to commit unto God, unaware that it was anyone but their real loved one.


8)     In Richard Wagner’s operatic swords-and-sorcery epic The Ring, the Valkyries are:

       a)     The souls of warriors slain in battle, welcomed to Valhalla (the home of the gods),

       b)     Such souls already there, bringing subsequent, fallen comrades-in-arms to Valhalla.

      c)     The daughters of the god Wotan, performing that spiritual duty.


9)     The house in The Amityville Horror:

      a)     Is actually in Canada.

      b)     Was fictional, and built on a Pinewood Studios set.

      c)     Is real, and in Amityville – but, the film company were not allowed to use it, so had to make another temporarily resemble it!


10)  Stories of ghostly Roman soldiers marching along British roads sometimes claim them apparently wading waist-deep in the asphalt; because:

       a)     The modern road surface is that height above its Roman predecessor.

       b)     They had been attacked by certain native tribes who cut their slain enemies’ legs off, probably in contempt. C.f. the beheaded remains of what are thought to have been much later Viking raiders, in a mass grave found in 2011 during road-construction near Weymouth.

      c)     Some Romans had adopted an Iron Age to Romano-British funerary amputation rite its users believed would stop after-life wandering abroad.

Posted - December 30, 2019


  • 46117
    These are magnificent and scholarly, Rosie.  How cool.

    My range is touching on that stuff in high school and early college Humanities one and two and little else save my love of reading.  But that was a long time ago.  Since then, my tastes went to real ghosts for awhile.  And connecting to the other side.  All manner of ghosts and people who experienced them.  I had experiences personally.  They were very real.  No joke.  Others saw the same things. 

    People died in a house I was renting and they were all over the place.  I heard footsteps.  Glass breaking.  Doors slamming.  That type of unrestful stuff.  It was disturbing.  There are more stories, but ghosts in reality are common place and don't really interest me any more.  

    So, other than that, I liked the movies about ghosts; tv shows about ghosts; books about ghosts, but they were more geared toward the 60's onward.  
      December 30, 2019 5:19 PM MST

  • 23090
    Durdle asked this question :)

    I can see spirits being drawn to you or showing themselves to you.
      December 30, 2019 8:53 PM MST

  • 6988
    'The Legend of the Elmore Rider' is rather spooky. In fact, it is said that Nicolas Cage was inspired by the legend and created the 'Ghost Rider' movie. You can Google it if you wish, however, my late older sister claimed she witnessed it while out 'necking' with her boyfriend back in the 70s.  She was still shaking when she finally got home that night, and I knew when my sister was upset. 
      December 30, 2019 5:46 PM MST

  • 3684
    Here are the answers:

    1) The first manifestation was b), the face of Marley briefly replacing the door-knocker. Followed by the eerie echoes when Scrooge slammed the door, then 4 definite ghosts - the annunciator and the 3 "Christmas" ones. 

    2)  No they didn't. They photographed each other looking at cut-out pictures of fairies suspended by threads from a tree. The fact of the photograph being proven a genuine image of a child and something, deflected their parents and many others including professional photographers, from asking the obvious question - what thing? The hoax is known as the "Cottingley Fairies", after the girls' home town in Northern England. The affair spiralled so far from the girls' control they dared not admit it until old-age: one had already died and the other was in her 80s.

    3) Nothing exceptional at all. The so-called Bermuda Triangle is a very busy sea and air area, but is prone to rapid and often stormy weather changes. It is also a very large area and the waters are very deep. Every "disappearance" properly investigated points to entirely human causes: errors, misjudgement, incompetence, flouting of regulations, neglected maintenance or inept / unauthorised repairs and  modifications.

    4) c) The narrator had, in the story, befriended a signalman whose lonely signal-box had become haunted by the two portents I give. The first is c), the strange bell ringing. The warning figure in b) comes later. I won't spoil the story by saying more.

    To explain, "block-telegraph" refers to a bell-code system used between signal-boxes to verify clearance for a train in one track section controlled by one box, to enter the next controlled by its respective signal-box. For the literature, this means Charles Dickens had written a ghost-story set in very modern "technology" - long before that fluff word was coined! 

    5) Sorry, I should have worded that question rather better.

    This illustrates one way myths develop. Two American academics recently proposed the damage to the hull was greatly increased by the rivets being of poor-quality steel full of slag inclusions. They may have failed to consider that most likely the plates were steel but the rivets were of wrought-iron, which is fibrous. This was a common practice at the time, and untold millions of wrought-iron rivets are probably still doing their work perfectly safely around the world, in bridges etc. >100 years old. The Titanic was one of three similar ships - one was torpedoed in WW1 but the third, Olympic, completed a safe and uneventful 30+ years in these vessels' intended roles as ocean-going ferries.

    To squash another myth, no-one who understood marine engineering, claimed the Titanic would be "unsinkable". The claim was invented by a newspaper journalist miss-quoting a far more cautious appraisal in an engineering-industry journal.

    6) I won't spoil The Scottish Play as superstitious thespians call MacBeth, for those yet to enjoy it; but will say, think of the predicted, curious behaviour of trees, in military terms.

    7) b) Seances. Houdini showed the late-19C mediums used crude stage-conjuring effects. They would also have relied on what we would recognise as simple psychological tricks.

    8) c) In the Wagner opera, The Valkyries are the 8 or 9 illegitimate daughters of Earth-goddess Erde, by the god Wotan's extra-marital fling with her. They collect the fallen warriors, but daddy's favourite of them, Brunnhilde disobeys his order not to bring the dead Sigmund to Valhalla - Sigmund's role and death having being explained earlier in the tale.

    The consequences of her disobedience become irretrievably entangled with the consequences of the accursed, eponymous Ring of the Niebelung, forged from gold stolen from the Rhine Maidens almost at the start of the whole story. In the process, the unfortunate Brunnhilde becomes the leading woman in the entire 4-opera saga; but not always in the way she would have wanted. 

    The very last act concludes with a long aria from her, followed by a despairing three-word warning from one of the men, then an illustrative instrumental-only finale - a combination of extraordinarily heart-wrenching intensity.

    Some people do think Wagner's Valkyries are the dead knights themselves, but that is incorrect. 

    9) c) The house does exist, in Amityville (NY),  permission to film there was denied. Later owners removed the gable "eye" windows to deter ghoulish sight-seers.

    10)  a). Ghosts are said to be able to pass though obstacles built after the death, such as previous locations of doors later bricked up. Many English roads follow Roman routes, characterised by long straight stretches, but over the centuries their surfaces became raised above the originals. So the supposed ghosts were marching along their own road surfaces.

    [Edited to insert a missing "not"!] This post was edited by Durdle at January 4, 2020 3:14 PM MST
      January 4, 2020 3:10 PM MST