The chilling Stinking men of Pembroke Castle terrify paranormal investigators.
Location: Pembroke Castle, Pembrokeshire
Chronicled & Photographed by G L Davies
I am frequently asked have I ever been truly frightened by a paranormal event and after deep consideration there is one particular instance that did genuinely perturbed me. Of course investigations can have its chilling or confusing moments where for a second you question everything you know to be real in the world, turn it on its head and have to re-evaluate your own personal beliefs while you try and make sense of what you have witnessed.
Occasionally on an investigation the sheer ambience and atmosphere will in itself cause a fear factor and a bump or a bang can cause the heart to beat fast and the hands to grow clammy, but these moments are what fuels a paranormal investigator, the quest for the truth, the search for evidence and the adrenaline pumping through your veins will make it a very exciting experience.
However one night did frighten me, not for a moment or two but to this day. It lingers in my mind like an irremovable stench. There are of course probable explanations but I was lucky to share the experience with others. None of us mentioned it at the exact time but a few minutes later we all had the same story, the same detail. Was it just suggestion, our minds creating a group hallucination due to the environment we were in or was there something more?
The location where we experienced the activity is one of the most impressive that you could ever hope to attend for an investigation. The location is the incredible Pembroke castle in South west Wales.
Pembroke castle is a medieval Norman style castle with 16 feet thick walls and battlements that reach 75 feet high. The castle juts up from an ancient rock formation and is surrounded by the river Cleddau that creates a natural defence. Underneath the castle is a huge natural cave called Wogans cavern that has shown evidence that early man had a community based there and in castle times was used as a boat house and cargo warehouse. The castle was built in 1093 AD and has resisted many attacks and several sieges and is the birthplace of King Henry VII. The castle was still in use till the mid-17th century and the families, the people and the events that took place there are richly woven into the tapestry of local history.
Before I continue with my chilling experience you need to realize just how important the castle was in terms of how it played its part in shaping the history of the United Kingdom. During the English civil war Pembroke castle surprisingly declared itself as an ally to Parliament and not to the throne. It was besieged by Royal troops and was only saved when Parliamentary re-enforcements arrived by sea to smash the stranglehold but then an amazing decision was made by the lords of Pembroke castle and that was to switch sides and ally itself with the Royals. Parliamentary advocate and key historic figure Oliver Cromwell personally oversaw the new siege of the castle as he was shocked by their betrayal and needed to personally resolve the situation and after a desperate 7 weeks finally took the castle and all that had betrayed parliament were tried for treason and the castle ordered to be dismantled. This chapter in the castle history could easily be part of the Game of throne series for its alliances, turns and betrayals. It remained abandoned until its restoration begun in 1880.
Now if we fast forward to a summers night in 2004 when I was privy to join a group of amateur ghost hunters and paranormal investigators that had secured a night at the castle, the first thing that surprises you by the castle is just how intact it is. This is no pile of rubble but a huge area with an intact keep, living areas, towers and even the room where Henry the VII was born; it really is a beautiful castle and a testament to the engineers and builders of the time and the efforts of the restoration.
The group that we accompanied were made up of two sections. Group one was the Investigators with camera’s, recorders and other equipment and group two was those with alleged mediumship ability. We started with the mediums and made our way through the grounds to the keep.
I vividly remember the keep, cold and black against the moonlit sky. The Pembroke castle keep is a huge round structure which would have supported a huge wooden fighting platform so that should the castle be attacked the defenders could attack the assailants from above, giving them a huge tactical advantage. Inside it is a huge empty building with a spiral staircase disappearing up to the point of the keep.
Once inside it was pitch back and we could hear the flutter of disturbed nesting birds high above us and a slight cool breeze blew in behind us with the entrance way illuminated by the moonlight. Inside through the torchlight we could very little apart from shafts of light from the torches highlighting speckles of dust floating in the air. We were told to gather in a circle and to turn off our lights. I stood there and in my mind I tried to imagine what it would have been like in here when the castle was still in operation, I tried to imagine the people that would have worked here. I do this on every investigation as I try to connect to the building and imagine the lives of the people that would have or do live there.
We gathered in that dark open space, I had my good friend and investigator G.T White and an investigator from London called Emma to my left. We all linked hands, there were perhaps twelve; maybe thirteen of us in all, and the medium began to speak. At first you could sense she was nervous as she began telling jokes but maybe she was just trying to get us relaxed, she blessed us all saying we were not here as enemies but as journeymen on a quest for enlightenment and she asked our spirit guides to protect us from any insidious spirits that perhaps remained.
As we stood there, I could barely make out anything in the dark, night vision was returning from all the torch activity but I could see G.T White and Emma in the gloom and the silhouettes of others across from me in the circle. The medium began to ask questions to speak openly and loudly into the echoing keep and I kept my senses alert. I listened intently for any noise, any chills or sounds and then I smelt something quite, quite awful. It was worse than excrement or rotting food, it was suffocating; it was so repugnant that if I hadn’t had felt so stifled and breathless by the overpowering smell that I would have been sick. My immediate thought was that perhaps someone in the circle was more frightened that they were letting on and perhaps had soiled themselves but then in the gloom a feet from me, I noticed something in the darkness between me and the other side of the circle; A small shadowy figure, it was blacker than the darkness that had enveloped us. Had someone left the circle or had crept in, was I perhaps hallucinating or my night vision playing tricks on me. The medium did not seem to be aware and I watched the figure uncurl so to speak and stand straight, five feet perhaps but no more. G.T spoke out to my right and asked “Can anyone else smell that?” to which there were answers from the darkness of “Yes, what is it” and “It’s making me sick.” I kept my eyes on the shadow person in the middle of the circle and was startled to see it move up close to where G.T was, G.T’s hand suddenly tightened around mine, the pain incredible and he released when the thing moved and stood directly in front of me, it’s stinking face a few inches from mine as it peered up. I will admit that I have never been so frightened by anything like this before or after. It had a pure black face. No distinguishable features. Its countenance was one of evil intent and a desire to do harm. It never spoke a word but those feelings washed over me in a cold and depressing fog. It was the first time that I ever wanted to run out of an investigation. The creature moved from me and to Emma and her hand tightened on mine and she said “There is something here!” The medium replied, “Yes his name is Andrew and he is curious about us.” and as she said this I realized there was another shadowy figure in the gloom and was doing the same as the first. When he peered at me, I thought I would collapse; I thought that I would despair to the point that I would never see light and life again, that I would never feel love again, that the world was an evil stinking decaying pit. It was the personification of dread and death, it quickly moved from me, much to my relief but then its focus was on Emma, who then shrieked, let go of my hand and ran from the keep. The medium shouted “Don’t break the circle, don’t break the circle!!” which everyone did very quickly and made their way to the moonlit entrance way. G.T and I ran out to see if Emma was O.K. and she sat there in the courtyard in the moonlight, sobbing. I asked her if she was ok and she said “No, I just starred death in the face.” G.T looked at me and said “I saw it too; there were two awful things in there. It was like death”
I was so confused by the experience, the fear, the moroseness and the depression and the overwhelming stench. I described my experience to them both, both interrupting to concur with my story, finishing my sentences for me. Exasperated I walked slowly back to the keep and met the medium on my way. I asked her what had happened in there and she casually replied that some children were in there trying to pull down her trousers. I asked if she knew what the smell was, what had happened to us and she replied “what smell?” Sadly she had not shared our experience and was unable to offer any explanation.
I spoke to some of the others in the circle. All had the same experience but four left immediately before I could speak to them. Something terrible either still resided in the keep or we had given it the power to manifest. Maybe the power of suggestion, our mere presence within that particular environment and our motives had created the illusion of the stinking men, maybe we had overridden our rationale and our senses controlled our perception of events. I have researched over the years looking for an explanation, I have none yet. I have spoken to dozens of people who have worked and visited there and none had an inkling of an idea what the stinking men could be and none had a similar experience.
Perhaps for whatever reason the stinking men only felt the need to contact those in the circle, maybe for some of us there was more than just the dread and fear, maybe for the people that left they were giving a more horrendous message from the stinkers. To this day I have not been able to track down the four people that left early that night. I just pray that they haven’t taken home any unwelcomed visitors with them, for whatever those entities were they are the closest I have come to experiencing pure evil and to this day the memory of the presence of the stinking men makes me sick and fearful. Pray you never encounter them.
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