“KNIGHTS, DRAGONS, AND DINO DNA” and More Freaky True Stories! #WeirdDarkness
Listen to ““KNIGHTS, DRAGONS, AND DINO DNA” and More Freaky True Stories! #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.
IN THIS EPISODE: The Phaistos Disc was discovered in 1903, by Italian archaeologists in southern Crete. Since then the disc has remained a mystery as no one has been able to decipher the writings upon it, nor who made the object, what was it used for, and even if it’s a genuine archaeological discovery or a clever fake. (The Phaistos Disc) *** Usually you learn that a place is haunted simply because people say it is. It’s common knowledge around the town or neighborhood… but when the government of your country says a place is haunted, you’d better danged well listen. Such is the case with India’s Bhangarh Fort. (Bhangarh Fort – The Most Haunted Place in India) *** At the end of 1894 French army captain Alfred Dreyfus, a graduate of the École Polytechnique, and a Jew of Alsatian origin, was accused of handing secret documents to the Imperial German military. After a closed trial, he was found guilty of treason and sentenced to life imprisonment on the dreaded Devil’s Island. But that’s just the beginning of the story that later became known as The Dreyfus Affair. (The Dreyfus Affair) *** We’ve all heard of the power of the mind – it’s been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of pain, some well-trained individuals can use their mind to slow their rate of respiration, to bring their heartbeat down to almost nothing with no long-term ill effects… but what about controlling things outside of your own body? Is the mind that powerful? Some believe so – and they also believe it’s one possible explanation for hauntings. (The Wild PK of the Poltergeist) *** Is it possible that our history books are wrong and that humans actually did walk with dinosaurs? It might not be as far-fetched as it sounds, especially when you look at tales of knights, dragons, and T-Rex DNA. (Knights, Dragons, and Dino DNA) *** We’ll have a short tale about Joseph Naples… who chose the macabre career of being a grave digger… but only because it made it easier for him to be a grave robber… and a body snatcher. (A London Body Snatcher)
SOURCES AND REFERENCES FROM THE EPISODE…
#ChurchOfTheUndead: “DRAGONS, SLAYERS, AND A DINO BOAT RIDE”: https://weirddarkness.com/dragons-slayers-and-a-dino-boat-ride/
“Knights, Dragons, and Dino DNA” posted at Earth Chronicles: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/9cvh5mwa
“A London Body Snatcher” by Suzie for DiggingUp1800.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/akvjtuxk
“The Phaistos Disc” by Brian Haughton: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/swkhu9ah
“Bhangarh Fort” from BuggedSpace.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/r3uyrjc4
“The Dreyfus Affair” by Syd Albright for CDA Press: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/n5upfkvb
“The Wild PK of the Poltergeist” by Dr. Michael Grosso for Consciousness Unbound: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/9x7d3v8e
Weird Darkness theme by Alibi Music Library.
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Originally aired: July 20, 2021
DISCLAIMER: Ads heard during the podcast that are not in my voice are placed by third party agencies outside of my control and should not imply an endorsement by Weird Darkness or myself. *** Stories and content in Weird Darkness can be disturbing for some listeners and intended for mature audiences only. Parental discretion is strongly advised.
Welcome, Weirdos – (I’m Darren Marlar and) this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, the strange and bizarre, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.
Coming up in this episode…
The Phaistos Disc was discovered in 1903, by Italian archaeologists in southern Crete. Since then the disc has remained a mystery as no one has been able to decipher the writings upon it, nor who made the object, what was it used for, and even if it’s a genuine archaeological discovery or a clever fake. (The Phaistos Disc)
Usually you learn that a place is haunted simply because people say it is. It’s common knowledge around the town or neighborhood… but when the government of your country says a place is haunted, you’d better danged well listen. Such is the case with India’s Bhangarh Fort. (Bhangarh Fort – The Most Haunted Place in India)
At the end of 1894 French army captain Alfred Dreyfus, a graduate of the École Polytechnique, and a Jew of Alsatian origin, was accused of handing secret documents to the Imperial German military. After a closed trial, he was found guilty of treason and sentenced to life imprisonment on the dreaded Devil’s Island. But that’s just the beginning of the story that later became known as The Dreyfus Affair. (The Dreyfus Affair)
We’ve all heard of the power of the mind – it’s been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of pain, some well-trained individuals can use their mind to slow their rate of respiration, to bring their heartbeat down to almost nothing with no long-term ill effects… but what about controlling things outside of your own body? Is the mind that powerful? Some believe so – and they also believe it’s one possible explanation for hauntings. (The Wild PK of the Poltergeist)
Is it possible that our history books are wrong and that humans actually did walk with dinosaurs? It might not be as far-fetched as it sounds, especially when you look at tales of knights, dragons, and T-Rex DNA. (Knights, Dragons, and Dino DNA)
But first… we’ll have a short tale about Joseph Naples… who chose the macabre career of being a grave digger… but only because it made it easier for him to be a grave robber… and a body snatcher. (A London Body Snatcher)
If you’re new here, welcome to the show! While you’re listening, be sure to check out WeirdDarkness.com for merchandise, to visit sponsors you hear about during the show, sign up for my newsletter, enter contests, connect with me on social media, listen to my other podcasts like “Retro Radio: Old Time Radio In The Dark”, “Church of the Undead” and a classic 1950’s sci-fi style podcast called “Auditory Anthology,” listen to FREE audiobooks I’ve narrated, plus, you can visit the Hope in the Darkness page if you’re struggling with depression, dark thoughts, or addiction. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
STORY: A LONDON BODY SNATCHER=====
In 1802, at the Sessions House in Clerkenwell, Joseph Naples, stood quietly at the bar and listened to the case that had been brought against him. The Caledonian Mercury left nothing to the imagination when the story was printed in its Monday edition on May 10:
“Joseph Naples, [you are indicted] for stealing dead bodies from Spa Fields Burial ground…and also for stealing caps, pillows, shrouds, nails, screws and coffin plates belonging thereto, and the coffins wherein they had been buried.”
Using his privileged position, Naples, a future member of London’s Borough Gang and writer of the infamous ‘Diary of a Resurrectionist’, provided a steady supply of cadavers to nearby teaching hospitals after they’d supplied him with baskets in which to carry them.
Having been employed as a gravedigger for the previous two years at the non-conformist burial ground at Spa Fields; one of four burial grounds attached to St James’s Church, Clerkenwell, Naples would have been more than aware that the burial ground was overcrowded and that his actions would most likely have gone unnoticed.
Working throughout the ‘dissecting season’, he’d certainly been busy; removing cadavers at a rate of two to three PER DAY, something that for one individual to do was quite unheard of.
So how did he do it?
According to the testimony of his sister in law, 14 yr old Harriet Collins, Naples would generally dig up the cadavers during the daytime, occasionally storing some of these in HIS HOUSE before taking them to the relevant hospitals.
Given his position as gravedigger, his time spent at the graveside wouldn’t have caused any concern so he could work at his task more methodically than most.
He would later, when night had fallen and usually around the hour of 6pm, go around collecting up the cavadvers, making great use of the baskets provided by the hospitals.
During her statement, Harriet provided a further insight to the events that often played out at the side of the grave.
This poor girl of 14 years of age would often hold the basket open for Naples as he squashed and rammed the cadavers inside, presumably without a care in the world.
If she wasn’t on ‘basket duty’, Harriet would be keeping watch over the graveyard, ready to raise the alarm if any of the Bow Street patrol were in the area. Quite shockingly, Harriet: “…once saw him cut off the head of a young woman, which he took to the hospital immediately, and many times after … saw him with the heads of persons he said had died of particular disorders…”
If you are familiar with Naples, you’ll know that he had a particular fondness for removing cadavers’ extremities; that is the arms and legs, fingers or toes, heads. Especially if a corpse had perhaps gone past its best.
If we dip into the diary that he kept between November 1811 and December 1812, we can see that a number of entries mention the removal of extremities:
- “Thursday 27 February 1812: Went to St. Thomas’s, sold the extremities. At night Tom, Bill got drunk at the Rockingham Arms, at Home all night.”
- “Wednesday 12 August 1812: Went to look out, at night went to Bartholm. crib [Bartholomew’s Hospital]. Cut off the extremities took to Bartholm.”
Teeth were also another favourite item to remove. With the increased consumption of sugar and the rapid blackening of teeth, members of the upper classes were keen to have their own teeth replaced with false ones.
Teeth were therefore a valuable commodity and after Naples had removed these with pincers, he could receive ‘a Guinea, sometimes more’ for each set.
For about the past two years, between 1800 and 1802, Naples had quite happily been exhuming cadavers and their extremities until he was seen by W. Bacon of the Bow Street Patrol.
While carrying out his rounds on the night of the 26th November 1801, Bacon spotted ‘ a man’ carrying a basket over his shoulder.
When he asked the man to step into the nearby public house so he could ‘have a word’ the man dropped his basket and fled.
The bodies found within the basket were that of the recently buried Mrs Windsor, wife of George and also the body of their son both of whom had recently been buried in Spa Fields.
After being conveyed to Bow Street, the bodies were then taken to the vault beneath the church of St James’s, Clerkenwell to await reinterment.
It later turned out that the man who had fled the scene was not Naples at all but rather the man who would be responsible for getting mild mannered Naples into body snatching in the first place, Joseph White.
As the resurrection trade grew and the public became more aware of their perilous situation, body snatchers became quite particular in following certain rules.
The most important of these, and one which was religiously followed, by most anyway, was the complete removal of the burial clothes and any personal effects.
Nobody owned a dead body so the theft of one was more of a moral concern rather than a crime. Getting caught resulted in a short prison sentence at most, much of the time easily endured by the body snatcher.
Steal any property along with the corpse, that is the burial shroud or any burial adornments, then you have committed a theft and you will be tried for a felony.
You’ll remember at the beginning of this post that Naples was indicted for stealing the burial shrouds as well as other items.
Turns out that Naples would do a number of different things with these items. His favourite and most trusted method was to throw them into the privy at his home within the grounds of Spa Fields.
Infact, when the lid was removed and a rod was stirred around the bottom of the cesspit which measured ‘five or six feet wide and many feet deep’ it was found to be clogged with the burial shrouds.
Naples also burnt some of the clothing, offered Harriet a ribbon or two that had been tied round the corpse for her hair and quite remarkably, also tried to do a deal with the local undertaker George Atkins to see if he wanted to buy some ‘nearly new’ burial clothes.
It seems like Mr Naples was aspiring to be a real life Fagin.
But unfortunately for Naples, as gravedigger to the burial ground where the cadavers had been snatched, he was the one to take the blame.
Despite there being some apprehension as to the truth of Harriet’s statement, with some believing that she was perhaps speaking through mallis due to her poor treatment from Naples, he was still found guilty and sentenced.
His two year sentence in Coldbath Fields Prison, however, would soon prove to be a bit of an adventure.
Less than two months later he was planning his escape with another inmate, George Jones.
The pair made their escape by picking the locks in their cell and making over the prison wall with a rope ladder. After being put to picking oakum in the prison, it was thought that the ladder had been slowly crafted while working diligently at this unforgiving task.
Inside were two prison uniforms and a letter from the escapees saying that they had no further use for them!
Freedom was short lived however, for rival body snatcher Ben Crouch, leader of the Borough Gang, told authorities of his whereabouts and he was recaptured and sent back to serve the rest of his sentence.
Upon his release, no-one wanted to employ Naples and so there was only one avenue left to turn. Join forces with Ben Crouch and the powerful Borough Gang and start thinking about writing a diary in ten years time.
You can still visit Spa Fields Burial ground today, although there’s no longer anything there. The gravestones were removed long ago and it’s now a park, visited by office workers and locals taking time out from their day, locals now know it as Spa Fields Park.
Coming up… usually you learn that a place is haunted simply because people say it is. It’s common knowledge around the town or neighborhood… but when the government of your country says a place is haunted, you’d better danged well listen. Such is the case with India’s Bhangarh Fort.
But first… the Phaistos Disc was discovered in 1903, by Italian archaeologists in southern Crete. Since then the disc has remained a mystery as no one has been able to decipher the writings upon it, nor who made the object, what was it used for, and even if it’s a genuine archaeological discovery or a clever fake. That story is up next on Weird Darkness!
STORY: THE PHAISTOS DISC=====
The undeciphered Phaistos Disc is one of the greatest puzzles of the ancient Greek world. Almost everything about this allegedly ancient artifact is controversial, from its purpose and meaning, to its original area of manufacture. The mysterious clay tablet was found on the Greek island of Crete at the ancient Minoan Palace site of Phaistos, but who made the object, what was it used for, and could it be a modern fake?
The sophisticated Bronze Age civilization of the Minoans reached its height in the period around c1700 BC and began to decline about three centuries later, when many of their palaces were destroyed. The Phaistos Disc was discovered in 1903, by Italian archaeologists excavating at the ruined Minoan palace of Phaistos in southern Crete.
The archaeologists came upon the strange object in a basement room in the north-east apartments of the ancient palace, together with a clay tablet inscribed in Linear A, an undeciphered script used on Crete until around 1450 BC, and pieces of Neo-palatial pottery (c1700-1600 BC).
The ancient Minoan palace had collapsed during an earthquake, which has been linked by some researchers to the massive volcanic eruption on the nearby Aegean island of Thera (modern day Santorini) c1628 BC. The precise age of the Phaistos Disc is disputed; the archaeological context of the find suggests a date not later than 1700 BC, though the modern opinion is that it could have been created as late as 1650 BC.
The enigmatic object is made of baked clay with an average diameter of 16 cm, and a thickness of 2.1 cm. Both sides of the artefact are covered with a hieroglyphic inscription arranged in a spiral. The inscription was made by impressing wood or ivory hieroglyphic seals or stamps onto the wet clay, then baking the clay at a high temperature to harden it. It has been noted that occasionally on the artifact a symbol slightly overlaps the one to its right, which demonstrates that the creator was stamping towards the left, which resulted in the text spiralling inwards to the centre. The Phaistos Disc may represent what is in effect the earliest form of printing anywhere in the world.
Printed into the clay are a total of 242 individual impressions divided into 61 groups by vertical lines; there are 45 different signs including depictions of running men, heads with feather crowns, women, children, animals, birds, insects, tools, weapons and plants. One or two of these symbols have been identified as vaguely similar to the ancient Cretan hieroglyphs in use during the early to mid 2nd millennium BC. What is so puzzling about the artifact is why the Minoan civilization would use a primitive pictographic language at the same time as Linear A, a much more advanced script, was already in use.
Perhaps the primitive nature of the script on the artifact points to a much earlier date for the object than is presently accepted. However, this is not necessarily the case, as archaic forms of writing often survive into much later periods, usually in the form of sacred or religious texts, as was the case in ancient Egypt.
Furthermore the text on the Phaistos Disc is unique; no other examples of the script stamped on it have ever been located. This uniqueness and the fact that the text is fairly brief, makes it extremely difficult to hope to translate even a small part of it. That the inscription was made using a set of stamps would imply that there was large-scale production of objects impressed with this script, which, for one reason or another, have not yet surfaced in archaeological investigations.
A difficulty with understanding the artifact is that no-one knows exactly how the symbols on it are meant to be interpreted. Does the disc contain a hieroglyphic inscription, or pictograms meant to be taken at face value? Although some images on the Phaistos Disc are pictures of familiar objects, trying to understand these literally does not help with obtaining any coherent meaning from the disc.
Many linguists believe the text is a series of written signs representing syllables (known as a ‘syllabary’), while others assume it is a syllabary combined with pictorial symbols used to express a concept or idea (known as ‘ideograms’). The combination of a syllabery and ideograms would make it comparable to all known syllabaries of ancient Greece and the Ancient Near East, including Minoan Linear B, hieroglyphic writing and cuneiform. The latter consists of pictograms drawn on clay tablets with a pen made from a sharpened reed, and originated from ancient Sumeria (modern southeastern Iraq) in the late 4th millennium BC.
The Palette of Narmer is an interesting example of such texts. It was discovered in Nekhen, (modern Hierakonpolis,) the ancient Pre-Dynastic capital of Egypt, by English archeologist James E. Quibell in 1894. It dates roughly to 3200 BC and includes some of the earliest hieroglyphic inscriptions ever discovered. The Palette of Narmer uses a combination of hieroglyphs and pictographic symbols which are to be taken literally to mean what they depict, indicating a possible parallel with the disc of Phaistos in the sense that it could be interpreted as containing a mixture of ancient Cretan hieroglyphs and pictographs.
The tremendous difficulty of translation without further examples of the supposedly ancient script has not dissuaded both scholars and amateurs from attempting the task, in fact the unique nature of the text has added to its mystique and enthralled rather than repelled investigators.
The distinctiveness of the Disc has, unfortunately, meant that there have been a number of highly imaginative and unsubstantiated ‘translations’ and interpretations of the pictographic text on the Disc. Perhaps the most extreme among them is that the object contains a message left thousands of years ago by extraterrestrial visitors to the Earth, or an ancient Atlantean civilisation, for future generations to discover. The question of what exactly the message contains or why it was written in such a primitive script by supposedly advanced aliens (or Atlanteans) has, of course, never been answered.
Over the last 100 years numerous attempts have been made to try and identify the ‘language’ on the Disc. In 1975, Jean Faucounau published a translation, maintaining that the language was a pre-Greek, syllabic writing of a culture he identifies as ‘Proto-Ionians’, a people with closer ties to ancient Troy than to Crete.
According to Faucounau’s decipherment the Phaistos Disc describes the career and funeral of a Proto-Ioanian king called Arion. His translation has, however, not been accepted as sound by most scholars on the subject. In 2000, Greek author Efi Polygiannakis published (in Greek only at the moment) a book entitled The Phaistos Disk Speaks in Greek claiming that the inscription on the disk was written in the syllabic writing system of an ancient Greek dialect. Dr. Steven Fischer’s Evidence of Hellenic Dialect in the Phaistos Disk (1988) also identifies the text as syllabic writing in a Greek dialect.
One clue to the meaning of the object is the context in which it was found. The fact that the Phaistos Disc was unearthed in an underground ‘temple depository’ has persuaded some researchers of its religious significance, suggesting that the text was possibly an ancient sacred hymn or ritual. Several image groups in the text are repeated, which would suggest a refrain, and perhaps each side of the disc represents a verse from a song, hymn or ritual incantation.
In fact Sir Arthur Evans, excavator of Knossos, the ceremonial and political centre of Minoan civilization, concluded that the disc contained part of the text of a sacred song. The original discoverer of the disc, Italian archaeologist Luigi Pernier, also believed it had ritual significance. Nevertheless, though the Phaistos Disc was found at a Minoan palace site, there is no absolute proof that it originated on Crete at all, it may have been imported from just about anywhere in the Mediterranean or even from the Near East.
While a religious / ritual explanation is certainly a possibility, it is only one of numerous so far suggested for the Phaistos Disc. Theories include: an ancient adventure story, an ancient calendar, a call to arms, a spell written in Hittite (a language used in north-central Turkey, c1600-1100 BC), a legal document, a farmer’s almanac, a schedule for palace activities, and a game board. In his 1980 book The Phaistos Disc: Hieroglyphic Greek with Euclidean Dimensions, German author Andis Kaulins claimed to have deciphered the mysterious script and maintained that the language of the Disc was Greek and that it contains the proof of a geometric theorem.
However, Kaulins’ translation has found little support among archaeologists and linguists. In his 1999 book The Bronze Age Computer Disc author Alan Butler postulated that the Phaistos disc functioned as an incredibly accurate astronomical calendar / calculating device. However, there is no explicit evidence that the Minoans had any detailed knowledge of astronomy, and even the ancient Egyptians’ comprehension of astronomy at the time was not detailed enough to support Butler’s hypothesis.
Not a single example of the stamped or ‘printed’ method of writing of the Phaistos Disc has been found in the numerous excavations carried out on Crete over the past 100 years or so. This complete lack of comparative material has suggested to some that this Disc is a forgery. Something that adds to the feeling of unease about the Disc’s genuineness is that specialists in Mediterranean and Near Eastern archaeology seem unwilling to get involved in the debate about the artifact.
Dr Jerome M. Eisenberg of Minerva magazine has suggested the disc was created by an expert forger soon before its discovery. Eisenberg states that he believes the object was manufactured to enhance the reputation of Dr Pernier who wished to compete with the incredible discoveries of fellow archaeologists on Crete Federico Halbherr at Gortyna and Sir Arthur Evans at Knossos. Sponsorship to fund Pernier’s continuing excavations at the Minoan palace site may also have been an issue.
A thermoluminescence dating test would certainly prove whether the objects was made during the last hundred years or did in fact date to the Minoan period, but so far the Greek authorities have been unwilling to submit the Disc to such a test. Consequently, the possibility that the object is a forgery made in the early 1900s, using the limited knowledge of the Minoan culture available at the time, is perhaps a far-fetched but by no means out of the question scenario.
In connection with the hoax theory, an intriguing find was made in 1992 in the basement of a house in Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia, Russia. This was a fragment of a clay disc smaller in size than the Phaistos disc but apparently a copy of it, thought the symbols on this disc were incised rather than stamped. There were rumours of a hoax, before the disc disappeared mysteriously a few years later and nothing has been heard since.
Despite the apparent thanklessness of the task many researchers throughout the world still work away diligently attempting to decipher the Disc. But the extreme variations in the many purported translations have made scholars doubtful of any future success at decipherment, and indicate to many that while it remains an isolated example of its kind; the Disc can never be properly understood. We can only hope that future archaeological excavations in Crete, or perhaps elsewhere in the Mediterranean, will turn up further examples of this mysterious script. Until then the Phaistos Disc, now on display in the archaeological museum of Heraklion in Crete, will remain a unique enigma.
STORY: BHANGARH FORT – THE MOST HAUNTED PLACE IN INDIA=====
As claimed by many and even the government, Bhangarh Fort remains the most haunted place across India. Constructed back in the time of Kings and Queens, this beautiful fort resides near the Aravali Range of hills, with amazing architecture and eye-catching view of the history, Bhangarh Fort holds many haunting stories and is home to spirits of people who probably used to live here before this historic fort met its tragic fate.
The Bhangarh Fort was built in 1631 AD by the Kachwaha ruler of Amber, King Bhagwant Das, for his younger son Madho Singh. Madho Singh’s brother was Sawai Man Singh, who was Akbar’s general at that time.
The first thing to notice before you enter the premises of this fort is a warning signboard, placed by the government which says that “The entrance to the fort is prohibited before and after sunrise. Any violation of this will be a subject of criminal offense and necessary actions will be taken against any violator”. Now, this warning is placed just before the huge gate of the Bhangarh Fort, by the Government of India itself.
With lack of enough security and very wide boundaries, it’s easy to trespass Bhangarh Fort, but still, locals say that it will be stupid to do so, since as soon as the sun goes out, the ruins of market, shops and the streets inside Bhangarh gathers all its glory back again, the only difference is that it’s not the people that walk on those streets, but the ghosts and the spirits of people who died here. It is believed that the noise of crowds, music, and everything from a 16th century’s busy street can be heard before the sun rises again.
The Bhangarh story has two tales of how the fort became haunted and was left abandoned back in the time, while some of the locals who live in the village near the fort believe in both these stories, but no one is clear which one is truer over the other.
Bhangarh Fort and the town were built back in the days by the Kachwaah ruler of Amber, King Bhagwant Singh for his beloved younger son Madho Singh in 1573 A.D. His older son Sawai Man Singh I was Emperor Akbar’s general at that time. After the death of Madho Singh, his son Chatr Singh became the ruler of Bhangarh.
Surrounded by greenery and Aravali range of hills, it’s hard to believe that this beautiful fort was left abandoned and turned into ruins.
The folklore legends suggest that before the Bhangarh Fort was built, A Sadhu (Hindu ascetic) named Guru Balak Nath lived on the top of the hill where the fort was built later. His only condition for the fort to be built there was that fort should never cast its shadow on his own dwelling. That could only happen if the fort was not built tall enough.
This condition was honored by Bhagwant Singh, by his son Madho Singh, and the next descendent Chhatr Singh. But unfortunately Chhatr’s Singh son Ajab Singh decided not to follow his ancestors and ordered to build the fort further, adding columns to the fort that eventually raised its height enough that its shadow would fall onto ascetic’s house.
Nothing could have stopped the angry Sadhu and he cursed the whole town of Bhangarh along with the fort and the surrounding villages. This led to the unfortunate fate of Bhangarh, it converted into ruins when people abandoned the town as the folklore legend suggests.
It is believed that the Bhangarh Fort was 4 storeys tall, and after Ajab Singh’s order, it was built up to 7 storeys. But after the curse, the Fort crumbled and later only 4 storeys remained over the grounds, everything above it turned into ruins.
Interestingly the only establishment which remains intact and with a roof over it is the ascetic’s house which is also his tomb now (called Tantrik ki Chhatri which translates to “Ascetic’s Roof”).
This another story is even more interesting, although similar to the first one, Bhangarh was cursed but differently, which led the town to crumble into ruins and never to be rebuilt.
According to this story, it all started with the princess of Bhangarh, Ratnavati, daughter of Chatr Singh. She was so beautiful that the tales of her beauty spread far and wide and she received a number of marriage proposals.
A priest named Singhia also fallen in love with Ratnavati, but the priest was not someone who worshiped god, he was the one involved in satanic rituals and practitioner of black magic. Knowing he didn’t stand a chance to win the princess’s heart, he decided to use black magic for his intentions.
He followed Ratnavati into the market and tried to give her a bottle of perfume which he cast a spell on since he knew Ratnavati was fond of scents. But she found about Singhia’s spell on it, and angrily threw it onto a stone, which transformed into a boulder due to the effect of the spell, and rolled onto Singhia crushing him to death, but before he died, he cursed Ratnavati, her people, and whole Bhangarh.
The fort was doomed within no time, the curse made Bhangarh fall onto the grounds, no more establishments could hold a roof over it, people died, and whoever survived left the town.
Nobody knows what happened to Ratnavati after the curse, or she survived it or not and for how long. But it is believed that the ghost of Ratnavati, Singhia, and the people who died here now roam inside the ruins of Bhangarh. The ghosts of Bhangarh are believed to be roaming inside the Bhangarh fort where the most haunted is Ratnavati’s room in which she still roams around hiding from Singhia’s ghost.
Many people try to experience the haunted Bhangarh by trespassing its boundaries during the night, some believing it to be haunted and some denying it completely. Since Bhangarh from Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan state in India is just around 85km, a lot of people reach there to find the true story of Bhangarh fort. Moreover, a board put up by the Archaeological Survey of India clearly states that it’s prohibited for visitors to enter the Bhangarh premises before the sunrise and after the sunset, legal action will be taken against anybody who does not follow these instructions.
Many people who still successfully spent some time at bhangarh fort at night have a variety of experiences, one of the Facebook user mentioned that he had spent around 6 nights in Bhangarh at different occasions, sometimes experiencing nothing at all, and sometimes there were horrible things happened.
While the locals stay away from the boundaries of Bhangarh, people from around the world are always curious to find the real truth of this hauntingly beautiful place.
When Weird Darkness returns… at the end of 1894 French army captain Alfred Dreyfus, a graduate of the École Polytechnique, and a Jew of Alsatian origin, was accused of handing secret documents to the Imperial German military. After a closed trial, he was found guilty of treason and sentenced to life imprisonment on the dreaded Devil’s Island. But that’s just the beginning of the story that later became known as The Dreyfus Affair.
Plus… we’ve all heard of the power of the mind – it’s been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of pain, some well-trained individuals can use their mind to slow their rate of respiration, to bring their heartbeat down to almost nothing with no long-term ill effects… but what about controlling things outside of your own body? Is the mind that powerful? Some believe so – and they also believe it’s one possible explanation for hauntings. Coming up!
STORY: THE DREYFUS AFFAIR=====
Captain Alfred Dreyfus was an artillery captain in the French Army who was convicted of treason in 1894 and sentenced to life confinement in a stone hut on the notorious Devil’s Island prison.
He was Jewish and a victim of anti-Semitism, political intrigue, a corrupt military and false charges — and almost died from unhealthy conditions under a hot equatorial sun.
In France, the story of his plight became a national scandal.
It was called The Dreyfus Affair.
France at that time was still recovering from the 1870 Franco-Prussian War — France’s Napoleon III battling Germany’s Otto Bismarck over power in Europe and expanding colonies overseas.
Though they lost the war, France revived during a period of national stability and peace that continued until World War I called La Belle Époque, when the French enjoyed advances in technology, arts and science, and growth of overseas empire.
Hanging over that sunny time however, was the dark cloud of the Dreyfus Affair.
Alfred Dreyfus was born in 1859 in Mulhouse, part of Alsace in eastern France near the German and Swiss borders. He was of Jewish ancestry and youngest of nine children, their father a prosperous textile manufacturer. The family moved to Paris when the Franco-Prussian War broke.
After graduating from military school in 1880, he was assigned to an artillery regiment.
In 1890, he married Lucie Eugénie Hadamard and they had two children.
Two years later, while serving as the only Jewish officer in General Staff headquarters, it was discovered that an unknown spy was passing information about new artillery parts to the German Embassy in Paris.
Dreyfus became the prime suspect and was arrested in October 1894 and charged with treason. It was a false charge based on a ripped-up letter found in a waste basket by a French spy working in the German Embassy.
Dreyfus was court-martialed because questionable “experts” said the letter was in Dreyfus’ handwriting. The Army knew the evidence was false but ordered a closed court-martial anyway.
In a shoddy trial, Dreyfus asserted his innocence but was convicted of treason and sentenced to life imprisonment 4,000 miles from France at the Salvation Islands (Îles du Salut) penal colony — three islands 7 miles off the coast of French Guiana in South America.
Convicts nicknamed one of those islands “Devil’s Island” because of its isolation and brutal guards.
There were more penal compounds on the mainland.
Before he was sent there, Dreyfus faced public humiliation at a ceremony in front of his regiment standing silent in the courtyard of the École Militaire in Paris along with a crowd of noisy abusive onlookers to witness him having his rank insignia, buttons and braid cut from his uniform and sword broken.
“I swear that I am innocent,” Dreyfus cried out. “I remain worthy of serving in the Army — Vive la France! Vive l’Armée!”
After a 15-day sea voyage locked in his cabin, he arrived at the Salvation Islands, located 340 miles north of the Equator.
French President Napoleon III ordered the islands converted into a prison compound in 1852 that also included prison facilities on the mainland. It lasted 101 years until 1953 and now is a tourist destination.
In establishing the prison Napoleon III said, “Six thousand condemned men in our prisons weigh heavily on our budget, becoming increasingly depraved and constantly menacing our society.
“I think it is possible to make the sentence of forced labor more effective, more moralizing, less expensive and more humane by using it to further the progress of French colonization.”
Originally called “Bagne de Cayenne” (Cayenne penal colony), it was named after the capital city of French Guiana.
Most of the prisoners never saw France again — but Dreyfus would.
It’s estimated that 80,000 prisoners suffered and died there.
Most of the prisoners lived on Île Royale or at mainland work camps, as well as the Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni prison 125 miles northwest of Cayenne.
Dreyfus spent his first month at a reception and processing center on Île Royale before being transferred to Devil’s Island as its only prisoner and was confined to a 13-by-13-foot stone hut.
Devil’s Island was once a leper colony, later converted to an island prison for political prisoners.
Living conditions were primitive and the guards treated him harshly — but it was better than the horrendous punishment facility on Saint-Joseph Island, where inmates were isolated in tiny totally dark cells and not allowed to speak to one another for long periods of time.
Confinement there was a virtual death sentence from violence, malnutrition or disease.
“Dreyfus was allowed to write on paper numbered and signed,” one report said. “He underwent censorship by the commandant even when he received mail from his wife Lucie, whereby they encouraged each other.
“On 6 September 1896, the conditions of life for Dreyfus worsened again; he was chained double looped, forcing him to stay in bed motionless with his ankles shackled.
“This measure was the result of false information of his escape revealed by a British newspaper. For two long months, Dreyfus was plunged into deep despair, convinced that his life would end on this remote island.”
Escape from the islands was almost impossible because of sharks.
Meanwhile, back in France, his brother Mathieu began a crusade to have him freed.
The Dreyfus Affair had its supporters and detractors.
Dreyfus allies — the Dreyfusards — called the whole affair a travesty of justice and demanded he be released and exonerated. They believed in individual rights, equality and citizenship — including citizenship for Jews.
Among those supporters were many French intellectuals and artists — including best-selling author and journalist Anatole France, actress Sarah Bernhardt, future French prime minster Georges Clemenceau, artists Pissarro and Monet, and novelists Marcel Proust and Émile Zola.
Tirelessly, supporters continued to dig for exculpatory evidence and rally public support, while facing an unsympathetic press and corrupt judges pressured by the military.
But it would be a scathing letter entitled “J’Accuse…!” written by Zola and published in Clemenceau’s newspaper L’Aurore that would stir the French conscience and ultimately help free Alfred Dreyfus.
In the letter, which was addressed to the “President of the Republic,” Zola exposed the Army’s cover-up and corruption.
Anti-Dreyfusards, including the Army and much of the anti-Semitic French public wanted Dreyfus locked up for life — the death sentence for political offenses was no longer an option, having been abolished in 1848.
Two years after Dreyfus arrived at Devil’s Island, Army intelligence officer Lieutenant Colonel Georges Picquart found evidence pointing to Army Major Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy as the real traitor.
The Army rejected the evidence and immediately began a coverup. That meant standing by the original trial’s guilty verdict.
By 1898, word of Esterhazy’s guilt leaked out — forcing the Army to bring him to trial. He was found not guilty in a secret trial and promptly fled the country.
That enraged Zola who then wrote his famous “J’Accuse…!”
Zola was brought to trial in a Parisian court on a libel charge — which he welcomed because it opened the door for him to tell the public the whole Dreyfus Affair story. He was convicted but escaped to England — returning later.
Zola’s J’Accuse letter fueled growing public support for Dreyfus and put pressure on the Army to reopen the case.
In 1899, Dreyfus got his wish but the second court-martial trial again found him guilty of treason, but “with extenuating circumstances,” and sentenced him to 10 years imprisonment and a further degradation — after more evidence shenanigans by the Army.
The next day, he filed for another retrial, but it never took place. He was offered a conditional pardon by President Émile Loubet. Exhausted by his long ordeal, he accepted it — but retained the right to apply for complete acquittal.
At age 49, he was once again a free man.
Had Dreyfus refused the pardon, he would have been returned to Devil’s Island, a fate he could no longer bear.
It wasn’t until 1906 that he was fully exonerated and reinstated in the Army with the rank of major. He served as an artillery officer on the Western Front in World War I and earned the Legion of Honor and Croix de Guerre — retiring after the war.
Alfred Dreyfus died in Paris in 1935 at age 75 — having suffered the horrors of Devil’s Island, public humiliation that he didn’t deserve, anti-Semitism, and a world war.
He survived it all.
STORY: THE WILD PK OF THE POLTERGEIST=====
Just how powerful, weird, and magical can our minds get? I’ve been hunting around this theme for a while, and I’m still not sure about what the limits are. We know the mind can do all sorts of curious things (especially to our health). But how far can it go? We can direct and consciously try to control our own bodies. But can the mind directly produce effects on physical things outside our own bodies?
That would take us into the realm of paranormal psychokinesis—unexplained physical phenomena. Evidence for such is various, ranging from positive results in dice-throwing experiments to reports of spectacular healings. I want to single out the poltergeist (“noisy spirit”) as a particularly interesting item on the menu of paranormality.
Interesting is the dual personality of the poltergeist, traditionally seen as mischievous haunting spirits; today the phenomenon is often thought to be the unconscious actings out of emotionally disturbed youngsters—paranormal, but not coming from outside this world. It turns out there are poltergeists where no disturbed children are involved, and where it looks like the poltergeist effects are caused by external, independently intelligent agents.
Poltergeists come in all shapes and forms, and in some cases wreak havoc on one’s sense of reality. It is hard to conceive of a power and intelligence that can dance around and manipulate physical reality the way the poltergeist apparently. I draw on A. Campbell Holms’ The Facts of Psychic Science for one of the strangest cases that occurred in Stratford, Conn., in 1850, and lasted for over a year and a half in the house of the Rev E. Phelps. Phelps lived with his wife, two teen age girls, two younger boys, and a maid.
It began on a day that the family came home from church. All the doors had been locked but when they came home the front door was wide open; everything in the nursery was in disorder, with chairs on the bed and things moved around and missing. Later in the day, a nightgown was found on the bed with the arms crossed as if to represent a corpse. Dr. Phelps put the nightgown and other objects that had been tampered with in a trunk, locked the trunk, and locked the door to the closet where he placed the trunk, placing the key in his pocket. Fifteen minutes later all the material locked away appeared outside the bedroom door. The door and the trunk were still locked. The objects somehow made their way through solid matter (such are called apports, matter through matter, and are repeatedly reported to occur in poltergeist cases). That was the first day. The following days for a year and a half, new, weirder, and more destructive phenomena took place.
Clergymen, reporters, neighbors and others came on the scene and witnessed the phenomena. At breakfast objects were thrown around the table. On the fourth day, Phelps, his wife and a friend, locked themselves in the sitting room, during which time forty-six objects dropped onto the floor from nowhere, nails, keys, blocks of wood, pieces of tin, etc. The next day the terrible poundings began that would climax with blood-curdling screams that came from nowhere. A chair rose in the air and then hit the floor again and again with marked violence. Stuffed effigies appeared that were made out of pillows and other objects from the house. Soon after hats and clothing were found hidden in the house. On one occasion a hat was seen ascend a stairway by itself. The young boy Harry was terrified when levitated into the air, and was once found suspended helplessly in a tree. Seventy-one panes of glass were broken. Mrs. Phelps suffered pin pricks all over her body as she tried to sleep. Dr. Phelps and Harry while driving in a closed carriage when they were pelted by rocks (that somehow entered the closed space of their carriage).
I’ve touched on just some of the details of this case. The literature of poltergeists is full of such strange phenomena, including incendiary, bell-ringing, and water-spewing poltergeists. There are two points I want stress about poltergeists, easily one of the most fascinating of phenomena. The first is to stress the incredible degree in which the poltergeist can subvert our idea of what is physically possible. The second is that the intelligence behind what we call poltergeists can get quite nasty and destructive.
These two points are worth stressing in light of the growing realization that we’re being visited by what we might call poltergeists of the sky or unknown aerial phenomena (UFOs and UAPs). Again, these entities shatter our assumptions as to what is physically possible and have proven themselves in many cases to be nasty and destructive. In comparing the two sets of phenomena, it’s hard to avoid feeling that they’re connected and possibly emanate from the same order of unknown reality. The question about the linkage between parapsychology and ufology needs to be probed more closely. The U.S. government is opening up to the reality of UFOs; it needs to open up to the realities of the paranormal. There is a gigantic picture of what may be going on that needs to be confronted.
Coming up… is it possible that our history books are wrong and that humans actually did walk with dinosaurs? It might not be as far-fetched as it sounds, especially when you look at tales of knights, dragons, and T-Rex DNA. That story is up next on Weird Darkness.
STORY: KNIGHTS, DRAGONS, AND DINO DNA=====
Recently, paleontologists examining Tyrannosaurus bones found remnants of red blood cells – erythrocytes – in the microvessels that permeate them. It is unlikely that red blood cells can survive for tens of millions of years. Such discoveries cast doubt on the multimillion-year age of fossil lizards and even suggest that humans and dinosaurs were still recent neighbors on the planet – maybe even existing at the same time.
You might have seen the film “Beowulf and Grendel” made by Western European filmmakers a few years ago. In the film, Grendel the troll is shown as a wild man of huge height and frightening appearance. But not all scholars of the Anglo-Saxon epic of Beowulf imagine the troll that way. They pay attention to the fact that, according to the description, Grendel moved silently on two powerful hind limbs, while the front ones were small, frail and hung helplessly in the air. The creature’s skin could not be pierced with a sword or spear. Grendel’s lifespan could exceed 300 years, and by the end of its life, the beast was several times the height of the man it had no trouble swallowing. And the very name of the troll “Grendel” translates as “thresher. He could literally grind up the bones of his victims. Isn’t that a Tyrannosaurus?
Beowulf cut off Grendel’s weak and clumsy front paw in close combat, after which the beast died bleeding to death. No wonder – the tyrannosaur’s blood pressure was very high for a normal supply of oxygen to such a massive head so high above the ground. In general, the seasonal dragon hunt was almost the main occupation of the brave Beowulf. The hero and his team paid a lot of attention to studying the structure, habits and lifestyle of such monsters. The descriptions given in the epic allow us to identify almost all the species of dragons mentioned there with fossil lizards.
Knights vs. Dinosaurs… balderdash? Not necessarily. Western European knights and their predecessors always considered it valiant to fight the dragon. So, for example, the saga “Volsung” glorifies the exploit of a warrior named Sigurd, who defeated the monster Fafnir. The dragon moved on four legs, dragging his heavy body along the ground. Knowing that the hide on Fafnir’s back was invulnerable to a sword or spear, Sigurd dug a hole in the path where the monster walked to the watering hole and, sitting in it, struck the beast above him in the belly.
However, heroes and knights were not always victorious in battle. According to the ancient Celtic chronicles, King Moridd was killed and swallowed by the monster Belua in 336 BC. It “swallowed Moridd’s body as a large fish swallows a small one.” The Early Breton King Peredar was more fortunate to have prevailed in a battle with a similar monster at Llyne Llyon, Wales. British chronicles also tell of many places in present-day Wales once inhabited by monsters – afancs and carrogs – and given their names by these creatures. One of the last afancs was killed in 1693 by Edward Lloyd at Llynar Afanc on the River Conway. And the Canterbury Temple Chronicle notes that on Friday, September 16, 1449, near the village of Little Conrad, which was on the Suffolk and Essex border, many residents witnessed a battle between two giant reptiles.
Another Medieval British chronicle relates that in 1405 “near the town of Bures near Sudbury, to the dismay of all the people, a dragon appeared, huge in body, with a comb on its head, its teeth like the teeth of a saw, and a tail of unimaginable length. It killed the shepherd and devoured many sheep.
Heroes’ battles with dragons also took place in the Middle East. St. George the Victorious once defeated such a predatory reptile. During one of his campaigns he found himself in Beirut. Not far from the city, in the Lebanese mountains, there was a lake in which lived a predatory dragon, which horrified the whole neighborhood. The pagan priests ordered the locals to bring a boy or a girl to the lake every day to be eaten by the beast. Having learned about it, Sacred George has entered into single combat with a dragon and has pierced it’s throat with a spear, having pinned to the ground. Then he transported the wounded monster and dragged it to a city where he decapitated it in front of a large crowd of people. Today, St. George, defeating the dragon, decorates coats of arms, palaces and temples across Europe and beyond. Researcher-enthusiast Alexander Bogdanov notes that the canonical dragon, as a rule, resembles a carnivorous dinosaur baryonyx.
The Bible mentions the ancient Babylonian fire-red dragon Sirush. This creature, which in Mesopotamia was also called Mushussu and Mushushushush, was considered there the offspring of the mother of all dragons, the divine Tiamat. The images of Sirush were discovered by the British archaeologist Robert Caldeway at the end of the 19th century on the Babylonian gate of Queen Ishtar which he found at the time. These gates were of very ancient origin. King Nebuchadnezzar renewed them and left a text for posterity with the words, “I have decorated the walls with Sirushas so that all men may look upon them and marvel.”
The same Caldeway in 1913 first suggested that the Babylonian dragon resembled fossil lizards. In 1918, he went further and argued in his next book that the animal, if it existed, should be classified as an avian dinosaur. Caldeway wrote: “Iguanodon, found in Cretaceous deposits in Belgium, is the closest relative of the Babylonian dragon.
Images of dinosaurs, and more modern ones as well, have been found in other places. One Cambodian temple, dating from about 1200, has a bas-relief depicting a Stegosaurus, an ancient lizard with pointed plates along its spine. In Britain, on the tombstone of Bishop Richard Bell, who died in 1496 in Carlisle Cathedral, there is an engraving depicting animals that are otherwise difficult to characterize as diplodocs. There they are alongside the usual dog, pig, fish and bird. Needless to say, there are innumerable representations of dragons on Chinese crockery and embroidery, as well as their prevalence in medieval European heraldry.
Generally speaking, the mythical dragon, unlike real dinosaurs, was a fire-breathing creature. It would seem to be a purely fantastic feature. But it’s not that simple. Some paleontologists believe that there was some chemically active liquid – an unsaturated hydrocarbon – in the head reservoir bags of dinosaurs, connected to the nasopharynx by special channels. A sharp contraction of the reservoir bag led to the release of the hydrocarbon. Igniting in the air, the jet served the “dragon” as a weapon of defense and attack.
Not so long ago people documented cases of encounters with fire-breathing gigantic creatures. The great ancient historian Nicostratos of Samothrace wrote in his diary: “The high serpent burnt the ships of the Phoenicians with fire. Today there are still similar fire-breathing creatures, only miniature ones. For example, the bombardier beetle. The insect, not exceeding two centimeters in length, is endowed with an amazing defense mechanism. In special muscle pouches, the bombardier keeps a mixture of hydroquinone and 25% hydrogen peroxide solution, which do not react with each other under normal conditions. In case of danger, the mixture enters the “reactor chamber” located in the back of the bug’s body and containing a special enzyme that acts as a catalyst. An instant explosive oxidation reaction takes place, and a jet of red-hot gas is fired at the offender. So it seems that even the phenomenon of fire-breathing dragons and dinosaurs can be explained rationally.
If you want to go further into this topic and hear about it from a Christian/biblical perspective, I have also posted a new episode of the Church of the Undead today in the Weird Darkness podcast, it’s titled “Dragons, Slayers and a Dino Boat Ride”. Most people won’t agree with it, and that’s fine – but for those Weirdos in Christ who want to hear more, or for those who are just curious, everyone is welcome in the Church of the Undead!
Thanks for listening (and be sure to stick around for the bloopers at the end)! If you like the show, please share it with someone you know who loves the paranormal or strange stories, true crime, monsters, or unsolved mysteries like you do! You can email me anytime with your questions or comments at email@example.com. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find information on any of the sponsors you heard about during the show, find all of my social media, listen to FREE audiobooks I’ve narrated, sign up for the email newsletter, find other podcasts that I host including “Retro Radio: Old Time Radio In The Dark”, “Church of the Undead” and a classic 1950’s sci-fi style podcast called “Auditory Anthology”. Also on the site you can visit the store for Weird Darkness tee-shirts, mugs, and other merchandise… plus, it’s where you can find the Hope in the Darkness page if you or someone you know is struggling with depression, addiction, or thoughts of harming yourself or others. And if you have a true paranormal or creepy tale to tell of your own, you can click on TELL YOUR STORY. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
All stories on Weird Darkness are purported to be true unless stated otherwise, and you can find links to the stories or the authors in the show notes.
“A London Body Snatcher” by Suzie for DiggingUp1800.com
“The Phaistos Disc” by Brian Haughton
“Bhangarh Fort – The Most Haunted Place in India” from BuggedSpace.com
“The Dreyfus Affair” by Syd Albright for CDA Press
“The Wild PK of the Poltergeist” by Dr. Michael Grosso for Consciousness Unbound
“Knights, Dragons, and Dino DNA” posted at Earth Chronicles – and again, I’ve also placed a link in the show notes to my “Church of the Undead” episode entitled, “Dragons, Slayers, and a Dino Boat Ride”.
WeirdDarkness® is a registered trademark. Copyright, Weird Darkness.
Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” – Proverbs 12:25
And a final thought… “You can’t be real with others if you’re not real with yourself.” – Unknown
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.