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Sanquhar Kirkyard: The Scottish Graveyard That Was Plagued By The Ghost Of Abraham Crichton

Sanquhar churchyard in Scotland was believed by many to be the home of the ghost of Abraham Crichton, a wealthy, yet somewhat dishonest man, whose restless spirit was said to terrorise those who passed the cemetery, until the intervention of a local minister.

The ghost of Abraham Crichton was said to haunt the Sanquhar cemetary
The ghost of Abraham Crichton was said to haunt the Sanquhar cemetary

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the kirkyard at Sanquhar, in the Scottish borders, achieved notoriety on account of the ghostly activities of a man called Abraham Crichton. Abraham Crichton died in 1745 in a particularly unpleasant manner after a colourful life.

Crichton was a wealthy man, laird of Carco, and the owner of several properties in the area, as well as a great deal of land. However, much to the suspicion of various local people, he was declared bankrupt in 1741. His properties and land were sold off bit by bit, but rumours were circulated that Crichton was not in the dire straits that he would have people believe. He had, somewhere, secreted away a great deal of money. This, combined with the manner of his death, made it hardly surprising that his tortured soul would be unable to find peace.

There was a disused church in the district, which had been the kirk of a former parish, that of Kirkbride. For some years, there had been a dispute as to what to do with the building. Some locals wanted to tear it down, while in the opinion of others, such an act amounted to sacrilege. The story goes that previous attempts to demolish the church had been unsuccessful and that those who had taken part in the exercise found themselves the victims of considerable misfortune as a result. In the eyes of those who believed in such things, these happenings had been manifestations of the wrath of God.

Abraham Crichton was having none of this. He wanted the church to be brought down. He engaged a group of workmen to accompany him to the building to start demolition. They set to work, but hardly had they done so then an almighty storm blew up, preventing them from getting any work done. Forced to abandon their efforts until the next day, they all set off for home.

Sanquhar cemetery as it is today.
Sanquhar cemetery as it is today.

While riding back from Kirkbride, Abraham Crichton met with disaster. A bolt of lightning caused his horse to rear up in panic and Crichton was unseated. A tumble from a horse is bad enough, but one of Crichton's feet had become wedged in the stirrup and as the horse bolted, he was dragged along in its wake. The horse galloped off at a great rate, and it did not stop, nor even slow down until it reached Dalpeddar. When the frightened beast finally drew to a halt, its owner lay by its side, lifeless and bloody.

It seemed as if the death of Abraham Crichton was divine retribution. Not only had this man been dishonest in his financial dealings, said his critics, but he had also been guilty of sacrilege. He should never have tried to tear the church down. The locals shook their heads and tut-tutted self-righteously as preparations were made for Crichton's funeral.

They had not seen the last of Abraham Crichton, however. Not long after he was buried in the graveyard at Sanquhar, he was said to have returned, this time in spirit form. The ghost of Abraham Crichton caused great consternation in the district. He would appear suddenly in the churchyard itself, frightening the life out of anyone who happened to be there. Always, he seemed to be trying to speak to those whom he followed. His hand would stretch out in entreaty, but none dared to take it. The kirkyard at Sanquhar became a place much feared in the hours of darkness. Locals would take detours in order to avoid passing close to the church as a longer walk was considered well worth the effort if it meant avoiding the ghost of Abraham Crichton.

News of the haunting spread, and Sanquhar became a topic of heated debate amongst those who had any interest in matters of the paranormal.

At length it was decided that something had to be done, the ghost was causing too many difficulties. A minister by the name of Hunter was appointed to deal with Crichton's troublesome spirit.

The bold minister took himself to the kirkyard one night with a bible and a sword to await an encounter with Crichton. He insisted on carrying out his vigil alone, and no one saw what came to pass in the course of the night. When morning came, however, the minister left the churchyard, tired but in a confident mood. He never related precisely to what happened during those long hours of darkness. He was, however, able to give his assurance that Abraham Crichton's ghost would wander no more.

The ghost was never seen after that, but, just in case, the people of Sanquhar secured his tombstone in its place over the grave with very sturdy chains.

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