The disembodied spirit of an old soldier, or a blurry headstone? A photograph showing what could be the ghostly visage of a 17th century soldier was taken in St. James Cemetery in Liverpool, U.K., a hotbed of alleged ghost sightings. The photo appears to show a transparent figure standing in the background, with the shape of what could be seen as a helmet and breastplate of the type worn by soldiers during the English Civil War of 1642.
According to the Liverpool Echo, where you can see the picture for yourself, the photo was taken by Louisa Farrell on March 7, 2018 while she was on a “ghost walk” through St. James’ Cemetery. The cemetery, which sits in the center of Liverpool, is home to a staggering 57,000 gravestones and a constant source of ghost stories and supposed documentation. The entities seen include vampires, a witch, and even the ghost of a former MP.
Of this particular sighting, Farrell says she didn’t notice the ghostly figure at first. That makes sense. The supposed ghost is the same color scheme as the rest of the cemetery: the spooky blend of brown and grey that makes you wonder how impossibly boring the afterlife must be. Also, the figure could pass for a gravestone as easily as it could a soldier-of-yore.
While pareidolia (seeing patterns, especially faces, in noise) is a well-documented phenomenon, the figure does have some strangeness to it. It appears to be transparent, and it’s shape does indeed share similar features to 17th century English armor. If you wanted to, you could see the figure as wearing a helmet, breastplate, and cloth uniform similar to the soldiers pictured below.
Keith Braithwaite, who hosts the ghost tours through Liverpool, thinks he knows exactly where this ghost came from.
In 1644, Prince Rupert of the Rhine and 10,000 royalist soldiers laid siege to the port of Liverpool. After a week and 1,500 casualties, Rupert torched the town and took Liverpool castle. Many of the citizens of Liverpool were killed in the siege, and more soldiers and citizens were killed when the Roundheads (Oliver Cromwell’s opposition forces) returned to take the city back. Keith Braithwaite thinks that this ghost was part of Prince Rupert’s army that initially took the city.
That’s a pretty quick judgement call for a blurry shape in the background, but perhaps it’s accurate. Braithwaite has been leading ghost tours through Liverpool since 2002. The ghost tours are free of charge, so it’s unlikely that these sightings are part of a calculated con-job. Braithwaite says that he does a walk through St. James Cemetery at least once a month, and there are usually sightings or photographs taken of strange shapes and ghostly things in the cemetery:
It is a very active place and we always get a result, but at the same time, the people I take around have respect for the dead. It is one of the most haunted cemeteries on Merseyside plus there is lots of history to the people who are buried in there.
Guaranteed ghost sightings? Somehow that seems a little far-fetched. If “results” is synonymous with blurry, indistinguishable shapes then yes, there are many photographs of strange sightings at St. James Cemetery. Maybe one day someone will provide incontrovertible proof, but for now this remains another in a long list of open-to-interpretation oddities.