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Fort Horsted - Chatham, Kent

 

 

Ghost Connections were privileged to be the first known paranormal investigation team to be granted access to the largest of the outlying Napoleonic Medway Forts.

Fort Horsted is an extensive defensive structure built during the French invasion threat following the Battle Of Waterloo. It was never to be put to the test for the purpose it was constructed however saw defensive use by anti aircraft gunners and observers during both world wars and period graffiti remains on the walls in the outlying defenses.

Following decommissioning it was neglected and years of use by a tyre company and vehicle breakers left it in an eyesore that was little known and hidden from view. In 1976 a major fire has left the scars of smoke damage and burnt timbers in many areas.

Finally rescued in the 1990's by the current owners in conjunction with English Heritage it has been progressively explored, restored and developed since into a local business centre where the many casemates and magazines are available for rent.

It is fortunate that the current owners, Fort Horsted Business Centre, and Avondale Environmental Services Ltd, a vegetation management and clearance company, have taken an enthusiastic and contagious interest in the forts history and that of its neighbours in the Medway area and beyond.

The interior has been transformed into modern office and business units whilst retaining many of the original features.

Tales of unpleasant feelings and senses in the main entrance tunnel would feature within the teams initial plans for an investigation.

The Investigation
Apparatus:

Video camera-
Sony DCR HC-24E with night vision and Sony HVL-IRM IR light
Sony DCR-HC19 with night vision and Sony HVL- IRM IR light
Samsung VP-D351 with night vision and Sony HVL-IRM IR light

Digital Camera-
Fuji Fine Pix S5000
Fuji Fine Pix S5500
Pentax K-100D Digital SLR
Olympus C-370
Practica Digicam 3

Voice recorder -
Olympus VN-2100PC
Olympus DM20
HNSAT DVR958

Other-
Tripods
Video tapes (mini DV)
Portable LED lights.
Torches (LED and standard bulb Maglites)
CCTV footage in night vision from site.

Team:

Kim
Ian
Paddy
Dave


Method:

Using visual and scientific methods investigate the background to alleged paranormal phenomena at this venue in an attempt to record the occurrence of paranormal phenomena in a presentable form.


Investigation:

Due to the importance having a secure site devoid of persons not involved in the investigation there was a delay in starting whilst others present were allowed to leave the fort after concluding their business for the day.

As previously stated our initial intention was to explore the one area of alleged paranormal occurrence. The actual location of these reports was consistently given as in a minor corridor just off of the main entrance tunnel from the main gate onto the casemate area. The main tunnel is accessed immediately through the entrance gates and continues directly ahead for around 100 yards to the casemates. Initially upon entrance there are two further side tunnels leading up into the surface to further casemates. The reported area is a minor tunnel just past this junction which could be covered from the junction as could all main tunnels.

The team set up at the junction of the major tunnels. Kim positioned herself immediately adjacent to the reported area of activity within the main tunnel. Ian sat further back towards the main entrance with Paddy and Dave within the junction able to observe each side tunnel, the main tunnel and the entrance from one position.

 

The main tunnel looking towards the main entrance.

The temperature was noted at 14deg C.

Within a short period of time, during a spell of intuitive photography, Kim highlighted to the team an anomaly that occurred with a photograph taken by her on her digital SLR. There appeared to be a red object of some solidity immediately to her left and predominantly out of view. This anomaly cast 2 shadows, one more defined than the other, which were both apparent in the photograph. There then followed a period of attempted reconstruction that will be reviewed within the results.

Numerous noises were commented upon during this session not least of which were a number of load bangs from the left flank tunnel area. Most other noises heard were either identified as caused by the wind through the tunnels and overhead although these ones were not identifiable and a walk round of the left flank would follow in an attempt to identify them.

 

Kim's photograph

 

Further along the main entrance tunnel was an entrance to a lighting tunnel for the magazines off the tunnel. Ian, Paddy and Dave all commented on seeing a shadow or movement in this area. The shadows were quite distinctively picked out against the illuminated casemates beyond. Various attempts were made to photograph the area and commented forms concerned.

Kim moved back to Dave and Paddy at this time due to coldness in her area.

Ian then felt a desire to get up and move about. He quickly retreated back towards his chair and then further beyond back to the rest of the team sensing someone else there. During this time Paddy indicated to an area to Dave's left where he has seen movement. Small noises were heard in this area.

Ian then saw movement around the area where Kim was originally sat.

Following an intensive vigil in this area the cause of the other noises on the left flank or within the tunnel leading there would cause the team to break and look at this area in order to identify the cause. Camera's and voice recorders were left running during this break in the original position.

Following the investigation of the area of the left flank the teams attention would turn to other areas of the fort.

Based upon the initial pre-visit and thoughts that emotions would run high in areas where the resident regiments has passed their time leaving graffiti for future generations to see we made our way to the centre counterscarp. It cannot be certified that the graffiti is of the period although it would be of historical interest if it was.

The centre counterscarp is accessed through an underground tunnel which leads under the dry moat and then climbs on the outer edge to emerge into a galleried chamber. From each side of this gallery gun loops look out on two flanks of the moat where enfilading fire could be laid down on any enemy within the moat. On one side a number of walls had been painted with period symbolism to show the regiments feelings towards Nazi Germany during the Second World War.

 

The gallery area of the centre counterscarp.

In this area we set about settling for an investigation. Kim has an aversion to small spaces so it was particularly difficult for her to be comfortable in this area where the only exit was via a number of steep stairs back the way we had come. Debris and animal carcasses littered the floor in many places
and the air was putrid. Would this come to influence what happened in this session?

Kim was understandably quiet throughout and so most observations were made by Ian, Paddy and Dave.

Ian only commented that he didn't like the time spent there.

Paddy complained of feeling physically nauseous.

Dave complained of feeling quite ill and almost being physically sick. He then coughed and this continued as a symptom of his feeling of sickness until it was decided to conclude there.

After a break which became quite substantial until the team felt well enough to continue.

The team would then relocate to a casemate immediately next to the access tunnel down to the centre counterscarp. This area was chosen as it was relatively free of obstructions, immediately off of the rear access tunnel through all casemates and also as it was well sheltered although open to the wind at one end.

 

The blocked entrance to the centre counterscarp and the casemate to its left.

 

Some noises were heard in this area and a number identified as being caused by the occasional gusts of wind.

During this time Paddy would comment on the movement of an electricity cable next to him possibly being responsible for a perception of someone standing there. This was observed and did not move during the strongest gusts of wind.

It was a short time later that a sound of movement was heard next to Paddy on the other side. A call to produce the sound again was immediately followed by a further audible recreation of the same sound from the same place.

Despite a prolonged stay in this area nothing further was noted.

The investigation was then concluded.

 

The entrance shown at bottom centre, centre counterscarp at top centre (26) and casemate (28).

 

Results
The weather became increasingly windy with some strong gusts during our stay. Whilst this did not penetrate the building as such it did serve to distract the investigation by carrying various sounds from outside the fort across its roof tops. The volume of the wind across the landscape here also made listening for and identifying any auditory phenomena exceptionally difficult.

There is no way any persons could enter the building without our knowledge as we had control of the only access across a 30 feet deep dry moat which not even the sanest person would approach during the hours of darkness. The site can quite categorically be quoted as being 'secure'.

Attempts to reconstruct Kim's photograph including the positioning of a solid object in the same position and the establishment of both witnessed shadows were attempted. The end result was that we managed to position Ian in a place where his shoulder and arm were consistent with the object seen on the photograph taken by Kim. With Ian carefully positioned the study of lighting would take place to reproduce the shadows. This was done by examining the PIR (Passive Infra Red) triggered lights within the side tunnel. Further tests were done using torches and also by the use of Dave's camera as it had been observed that he had taken photographs of Kim and the further tunnel past her during the time around which she had taken the questioned photograph. We could not, under any of these conditions reconstruct the photograph as taken by Kim. The exact cause of this image is not known. We can clearly rule out camera strap, fingers or other obstruction over the lens of the camera. The photograph below shows the position of Ian in the reconstruction to give an accurate representation with his left arm and shoulder of where the anomaly was caught on camera and also shows the position in which Kim as seated when taking the photograph itself.

 

Ian assisting Kim in a reconstruction of the anomalous photograph.

 

Ian photographed in the same view as the anomaly.

The original photograph for comparison.

 

It can be seen that Ian's arm produces only one shadow immediately behind his arm. A similar shadow can be seen on the lower side of the red anomaly. The red anomaly, however, also produces a further faint shadow extending along the tunnel that Ian does not.

Comparison of the picture using available software firstly to show surface plot (the 3D make up of the photograph), and secondly to plot all solid edges produced the following for each of the above respectively.

 

Pixel density plot for reconstruction (left) and also for original anomaly (right)

 

   

Edge plot for reconstruction(left) and also for original anomaly (right)

 

The pixel density plots show that the anomaly (and arm) are bottom left in each plot and the software interprets these as three dimensional objects by pixel within the frame. It also shows that the relative positioning of the camera in both shots is nigh on identical. The pixels produce plots on the graph relative to the amount of light received by the CCD sensor which is extrapolated as the distance of the object from the photographer.

The edge plots show that the reconstruction done with Ian's arm has solid edges and also a solid edge to its associated shadow. Compare with that on the right for the anomalous photograph which does not recognise any solid edges either to the red shape or its associated shadow. This is in response to the focal length settings in operation on the lens of the SLR camera at the time of shutter release and as such may not accurately represent the true edges.

These results are produced purely by using the software available without manipulating the photograph or the resulting images. We cannot explain what they purport to show other than we find the results interesting.

The noises noted upon the left flank or within the tunnel were never identified although the wind may have been a contributory factor in anything heard during this time.

The reported sighting of shadows could not be explained. After sitting for some time in darkness itis possible that a persons eyes become weary and begin to transmit images to the brain which are either false or exaggerations of any natural phenomena. This may be the case in these reported instances. Their correlation with reported sensations and noises may, or may not, be purely coincidental.

The feelings of nauseousness within the centre counterscarp may have many causes. It is known that Kim has a profound concern when in enclosed spaces. This is not often seen on investigations as we seldom find ourselves in such locations. It may be possible that, although she did not complain with any regularity during this time of such feelings, that her feelings may have subconsciously had some detrimental effect on the rest of the team. The odour within the counterscarp may have contributed to the sensations felt by Paddy and Dave and the general feelings of Ian. This type of psychological effect cannot be ignored in this instance.

Paddy's initial thoughts of the electricity cable in the magazine being responsible for the sense of movement was found to be unfounded and cannot be explained. The sounds of movement, then heard, were initially identified by Dave as being from a pile of objects in the corner of the room which he interpreted by their outline to be plastic sacks of gravel or similar building materials. It was envisaged that the noise may have been from the wind rustling the wrappings or a rodent walking across them. This was found not to be the case when the objects were identified as solid rubber road speed ramp pieces. The sound itself remained unidentified.

During our stay a certain amount of other information was forthcoming to the team of a clairvoyant nature. As Ghost Connections conducts scientifically based investigations we do not publish such observations, however, this information is held on a separate database and may prove interesting when compared to other peoples experiences. Should you wish to discuss this information please email us.

Camcorder footage, still photographs and voice recorders were later examined and nothing further of note was found. Some of the audible noises were found to be recorded and as such we can be certain that they were not imagined by the team.

Fort Horsted Business centre have kindly provided Ghost Connections with their CCTV footage from the night and this currently awaits viewing. Any interesting results will be added.

Conclusions
A different investigation done under difficult prevailing weather conditions. This investigation has yielded very little although the team all agree that a further visit on a calmer night may reveal some other evidence of prevailing paranormal activity.
Thanks
Ghost Connections extend their thanks to Chris, Paul and Matt for their enthusiasm and vision in allowing us pursue an investigation here and specifically to Paul and Matt for a detailed tour on our pre-visit and Matt for granting us access on the investigation night.
   
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25th October 2008

2004/2008 Ghost Connections UK