Ghost Chasers Episode 8
The Rhine Valley is a beautiful part of Germany and this is where we found ourselves for this episode, an area with a rich history and more medieval castles than anywhere else in the world. Our first location was Rheinfels Castle.
Rheinfels Castle (Burg Rheinfels) is a castle ruin located above the left bank of the Rhine in Sankt Goar, Germany. It was started in 1245 by Count Diether V of Katzenelnbogen. After expansions, it was the largest fortress in the Middle Rhein Valley between Koblenz and Mainz. It was slighted by French Revolutionary Army troops in 1797. It is the largest castle overlooking the Rhine, and historically covered five times its current area.
While much of the castle is a ruin, some of the outer buildings are now a luxury hotel, "wellness" centre and restaurant. There is also a museum within some of the better preserved structures.
Sankt Goar view from the castle
The main entrance to the castle complex is a tall square clock or gate tower built around 1300A A connecting path joins the clock tower to the remains of the living quarters of the landgraves of Hesse-Darmstadt (the so-called Darmstadt Building). The Darmstadt building was designed in Tudor style with pointed gables. The connecting path was the site of the former moat of the main castle buildings; part of which is now the large cellar or basement. This large cellar was arched over in 1587-89 in two visible phases. It is the largest self-supporting vaulted cellar in Europe and has a length of 24 metres (79 ft), a width and height of approximately 16 metres (52 ft) and can accommodate up to 400 people. The walls are up to 4 metres (13 ft) thick. Previously a 200,000 litres (53,000 US gal) wine barrel was constructed for storage. The cellar was renovated in 1997 and restored to its original condition and now serves as a meeting place for concerts, theatre performances, and other shows.
I couldn't resist testing the acoustics of this cavernous space and apologise for the bad singing!
Next to the Darmstadt building once stood a 54 metres (177 ft) tall tower. It had a diameter of 10.5 metres (34 ft) with walls 3.5 metres (11 ft) thick at the bottom. In the 14th century, a narrow round tower was added to the top, making it the highest butter-churn tower in Germany.
The castle museum is located in the former castle chapel which is the only finished room of the original castle. It is accessed through an internal gate and up the path. The museum contains a model reconstruction of the castle before its destruction giving one a sense of how big the castle used to be. The medieval castle courtyard is found beyond the castle museum building (slightly uphill). This was the centre of the medieval castle which contained a bakery, pharmacy, garden, brewery, well, and livestock — which would have allowed it to withstand an extended siege. During peacetime, 300-600 people lived in the castle complex. During a siege, that number could swell to 4,500. Remnants of the original 13th-century plaster which was painted white can still be found on some walls.
The notorious underground prison and tunnel system has been the site of strange encounters over the years. It was here shortly after arriving that myself and Paul decided to go exploring while Kay was doing his history segment. Here is a clip of our walk around the tunnels area where we had our first encounter.
During our exploration we heard what we thought was a voice at the junction of a path with a new set of tunnels. While exploring this phenomena I saw a bright flash of light and my first thought was that Paul had stopped to take a photograph. This was not the case tho as at the time Paul had his head inside one of the many mid high crawl spaces scattered along the area we were in.
The investigation was an interesting one and as always there were so many places to explore and there was not enough air time to show everything. The most memorable moment for me that you didn't see was during our night time investigation in the tunnels. We had discovered another labyrinth under the tunnels we were exploring and Paul volunteered to go down and see where they led. Armed with a walkie talkie Paul disappeared under our feet and vanished into the darkness. We stayed in radio contact for a couple of minutes before the radio went dead. We started shouting through the entrance but there was no response.
Without thinking I dived into the tunnel and went in search of Paul. This area was very cramped and it was crawling room only and after descending an incline for about 30 feet I came to a cross roads and had the decision of straight on, left or right. I decided to sit and listen and started to call out (for Paul not spirits!) Eventually I heard Paul to my right and found him on his way back up from an area which again had various forks going off in all directions. Paul agreed it would be too dangerous to explore fully as it was an area that you could lose yourself in very easily. I told Paul that we had lost radio contact and the crew were worried so we decided to return and on the way back Paul pointed out the hundreds of cave spiders that I had missed on my way down.
We reappeared to a very relieved crew and carried on with the rest of the investigation.
The rest of the night produced some great results after exploring the phenomena that we had witnessed earlier in the tunnels we heard what sounded like a womans voice in the huge cellar room, although no distinguishable words were caught. We carried on the investigating with Kay hearing what he thought was his name being called out. What isn't clear in the show is that the biggest mystery for me is the figure that Kay mentions. The segment where you see us running is where we are both chasing after what appeared to be a person moving around the corner of the castle wall. I investigated this area thoroughly and there was nobody there at all.
After regrouping it was Kay that had the name Siegrid come to him and so Ian suggested that this was the girl who had been leading us around the castle and had been attracted to Kay in a phantom game of kiss chase. It was decided that Kay should try to help the spirit pass over into the light in a final vigil which was the culmination of this investigation.
Throughout our trip we had a mascot named Jenni Doll (above) who we found on the road outside of Hastings Lower Lighthouse. We called her Jenni after our location researcher Jenni Crane. We added the tattoos and she toured with us all the way to Rheinfels Castle where Kay had put her into a display cabinet for a joke. Unfortunately this is where Jenni remained as she was forgotten at the end of the shoot. When we return to Germany this October we intend to try and find her again.
The following evening we investigated an 11th Century castle known as Burg Reichenstein. Home to a long line of ruthless and bloodthirsty tyrants, the castle is known as a hotbed of ghostly activity with numerous ghost sightings over the years. We were fortunate to have 3 nights stay in this fantastic location as this castle also has its own hotel.
The first mention of the castle occurs in 1213, when Philipp III von Bolanden was appointed “castellanus” and bailiff by the Kornelimünster Abbey at Aachen. Its purported capture in 1253 remains a subject of debate among experts, though there is no doubt that King Rudolph I of Habsburg besieged, captured, and destroyed the castle in 1282. At the time, Reichenstein was in the hands of unruly robber knights led by Dietrich von Hohenfels. Following its destruction, King Rudolph forbid the castle from being rebuilt, and according to legend, had Dietrich and his followers beheaded near Saint Clement’s Chapel (Clemenskapelle).There is another story that says, while his followers were hung from trees, Dietrich himself escaped.
In the period that followed, the ruins of Reichenstein remained in the possession of the Count palatine of the Rhine and were rebuilt. Ludwig IV, the Holy Roman Emperor, granted the castle to the Elector and Archbishop of Mainz in 1344. At that time, a new double wall was built surrounding an inner court containing a rectangular keep, and a forecourt was added to the north. It eventually began to fall into disrepair after 1572, when it became unprofitable for Anton von Wiltberg, chamberlain in Mainz, to maintain its upkeep.
The Dragon Lights in the entrance hall
Franz Wilhelm von Barfuss bought the ruins in 1834 and began the restoration. The family Kirsch-Puricelli purchased the castle in 1899 and completed the restorations in a neo-Gothic style. The family lived in the castle from 1902-1936. The current owner is a direct descendant of the Puricelli.
The first thing that strikes you about this Castle is the way that it is still fully furnished. It feel like you are stepping back in time and intruding on the history of the place. It certainly adds to the atmosphere and puts you on edge even before the investigating started.
Being guests at the hotel we were lucky in that hotel manageress Katrin Kleeman gave up some time to give us a personal tour of the castle and also unrestricted access whenever we wanted it for our own photography. By the time we came to investigate we were used to the layout of the building which was handy when we were chasing after sounds in the corridors.
The episode focused mainly on the two spirits that Ian was picking up the Robber Baron and Olga a previous resident of the castle one an evil entity and the other a protector keeping us safe. We did have some light relief during the investigation when it turned out that a shadow we were chasing turned out to be a bat!
For myself and Paul from an evidential point of view, the interesting phenomena encountered here was the rapid temperature drop where we could see our own breath and the iron gate that slammed shut with nobody in the area. These phenomena were both witnessed in the region of the chapel on the 1st floor.
Rheichenstein Castles Private Chapel
The other interesting phenomena occurred upstairs with the grandfathers clock. Katrin had already told Paul and myself that the cleaner on countless mornings had entered the castle to find the door of the clock wide open. As you saw in the episode Paul used his 'Spirit' level to test for unevenness in the clock to see if gravity could be playing a part in causing the door to swing open naturally. On returning upstairs we found that the door had opened and we had no explanation for this as we had all been downstairs at the time and it was closed when we had previously left the area.
The Haunted Clock
As we were staying at the castle after filming, Paul and myself set up a CCTV system around the clock to record overnight to see if the door would open again in the hope we could find a cause for the phenomena. Unfortunately for us it did not move again that night.
Unseen footage from this show was a seance that we conducted with Katrin and other staff from the Castle Hotel around a 400 year old table. This is footage that we would love to see as this seance produced some remarkable movement in the table we were all sat around while Ian attempted to make contact with spirit.
As you can see from the gallery above Paul and myself had ample time for photography and during a night off we ventured down to the train track for some night photography. We were hoping to grab a shot of a night train speeding through the town when shortly after taking this photo......
....... we heard a disembodied voice shout out of the darkness in German a language neither of us speak we both called back to be greeted with 'please leave the side of the track you are not allowed to be here' So not a ghost just a disgruntled German signal man keeping an eye on his crossing.
Finally our stay at this beautiful location came to an end but not before we were asked to take this last picture for Katrin as it seems our filming here had caused quite an interest with the local press.
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