For episode 7 we were in the Ardennes – an area of forest and hills bordering Belgium, Luxembourg and France with towns and villages that date back centuries. It is well known for its beautiful landscape, and also for the savage fighting that took place here during World War 2.
The Memorial at the Schumann Nothum crossroad in Wiltz, Luxembourg. This memorial is at the head of the trail leading to the foxholes in the woods at Schumann Eck where numerous American and German soldiers fought and died during the Battle of the Bulge 1944-1945.
We began our paranormal investigations on the forest’s edge, the site of The Battle of the Bulge, where more than a hundred thousand perished. Many believe the forest is haunted by the spirits of these dead soldiers.
The haunted forest was a first for the team and even during our daylight recce of the area it was quite unnerving how calm and silent this beautiful woodland was. Even with the memorial and information boards that were dotted around it is hard to imagine the trauma that these soldiers went through fighting in freezing temperatures during those dark winter months. It is also more difficult to investigate from an ethical perspective when delving into more recent history with the possibility of living descendants of the many thousands who fell here.
What was unusual about our daylight walk was the high readings we were getting on the Electro magnetic field meter (EMF). A field of force, produced by electric charges and currents, which has both an electric and a magnetic component and contains electromagnetic energy. The properties of electromagnetic fields were first outlined by Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell in 1865.
The background levels were unusually high for a woodland with no source of power for miles. It could have been paranormal or perhaps we were just picking up on natural sources caused by unseen underground cables however in this woodland that did not seem feasible.
This wasn't the only investigating that we filmed in Wiltz as we were based away from the Woodland in the historic Wiltz Castle. Prior to our late night investigation of the forest we spent some time investigating the legends of the castle.
The original castle was built in the 13th century by the Lords of Wiltz, initiating the development of the upper town of Wiltz. In 1388, the French attacked the town and burnt the castle down but it was soon repaired. In 1453, Wiltz was again attacked, this time by the troops of Philip of Burgundy. The oldest part of today's castle is the round “Witches Tower” on the northwest side. It was built in 1573 and subsequently restored twice. Since the 19th Century Count Jan, the legendary armoured knight, whom the good people of Wiltz have chosen as their eternal guardian, has graced the roof of the multistory tower.
Under Count John VI of Wiltz, the construction of today's Renaissance style castle was begun in 1631. After delays caused by the Thirty Years War, the main building was not completed until about 1720. The old chapel was finished in 1722 and the monumental staircase leading down to the gardens was completed in 1727. The castle premises were acquired by the State of Luxembourg in 1951 for use as an old people's home. Today the castle is famous for its annual music festival.
The Witches Tower
Being the oldest part of the castle Paul and myself decided to leave recording equipment in the empty witches tower away from the main castle while we investigated the cellars there. As we filmed nothing of significance this section was not aired and the episode concentrates on our investigation of the site of the world war 2 battles. However we did appear to catch something unexplainable on our locked off recording gear. Here is the anomaly.
From the picture of the witches tower above, the base of the tower is accessed through the gateway to the left hand side. Paul and myself approached the tower from the right hand path after descending a set of steps overlooking the courtyard. This would have taken us at least 30 seconds from the top of the steps to the gateway. From here is approximately another 20 seconds through the woodland to the tower base where we had locked off our recording devices. As you can hear from the audio Paul and myself were discussing a crew member we had invited to come with us but was too scared we don't mention any commotion that was picked up from above in fact we were oblivious to it until we reviewed the files. From the audio it also appears that there is a female laughing at what sounds like a practical joke. We had no females in our crew and although there may have been females on site in the dormitories of the main castle, as far as myself and Paul were aware we were completely alone in this area as we walked through the courtyard. So for us this file remains as unexplained.
Prior to leaving the castle for the forest there was time for a quick picture with one of the female inhabitants of the castle. It seems that our European friends have a better eye for detail with their mannequins than we do in the UK!
When we reached the forest Kay was already on edge not least because we were in a dense dark woodland area on the search for fallen soldiers but more so because we had informed him that Luxembourg is host to a population of Brown Bears and Wildcats. This was nearly enough to tip Kay over the edge and had to be coerced into carrying on with the episode. I must admit that when you see myself and Ian running from whatever Paul was picking up on the thermal camera, my mind was running on overtime thinking I am more scared of the bears myself!
The rest of the investigation culminated this time with Paul being offered up as our test subject to lie in one of the foxholes for Ian to put to rest the spirit of the soldier he had picked up. This was an investigation I won't forget for a long time not because of anything that happened but because of the emotive nature of the area we were in. I have always had a massive interest in this period of time from a very young age and just being in this woodland knowing the trauma that these people had been through was quite an intense feeling to take away.
Activity wise at the following location was completely different as we headed to La Roche-en-Ardenne in Belgium.
View from the castle of La Roche-en -Ardenne
La Roche-en-Ardenne is a French speaking municipality of Belgium located in the province of Luxembourg. Lying beside a bend in the River Ourthe, the small town of La Roche-en-Ardenne is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Ardennes. La Roche is believed to have first been settled in the Neolithic era. There is a Celtic archaeological site dating between 850 and 520 BC.The Romans built a fort there following their conquest of Gaul and the Ardennes.
La Roche Castle
The town's medieval castle was in use between the 9th and 18th centuries. It provided protection to the many barges that plied their trade along the local river systems. In 1331, permission to build city walls was given by John the Blind, King of Bohemia and Poland and a Count of Luxembourg.
In World War II, the town suffered severe damage. Having been liberated by the Allies in September 1944, the town was recaptured by the Germans in December, during the Battle of the Bulge. The subsequent Allied bombing raids resulted in the town being liberated once more in January 1945, but left much of the town destroyed, and 116 residents dead. There is an American Sherman M4A1 tank and a British Achilles SP 17pdr displayed as monuments to the town's liberation. In town there is also a memorial to the 82nd Armored Reconnaissance Battalion.
It was the medieval castle that is said to be haunted by numerous ghosts including the spirit of a princess called Berthe, a woman killed on her wedding day, this was the setting for our second investigation.
We met in the town centre for a discussion of how we were to plan our day and after the preliminary walk round with Ian, and Kays interview segment with the local historian we had gathered enough information to start our night time vigil.