Monday, June 4

The Ghosts Of Roman Soldiers Walking On Their Knees

The Treasurer's House York
The Treasurer's House, York
I like ghost stories - true ones, that is, like the one that follows about Harry Martindale.

The sighting was made by Harry way back in February 1953. At the time many doubted it was true but later events have shown how everything fits together nicely. Original objections to his story have now been overturned. This is what happened:

In the early 50s Harry was an apprentice plumber and was carrying out some work at The Treasurer's House in York. The property is called that because the treasurers of York Minster lived there until about 1547. So there's lots of history to the house and in York itself.

Harry was working in the Treasurer's House cellars and was up a ladder doing something or other to the heating system. It was then that he heard the sound of a distant horn or trumpet. He imagined that this must be coming from outside, and that was why the horn sounded so muted.

The horn, however, gradually got louder and then louder, each time seeming to be nearer to where Harry was working. This is where it will be hard to believe for many readers.

Suddenly a big cart horse emerged through the wall of the cellar. Needless to say Harry was shocked, so much so that he fell off his ladder and crouched, hiding as best he could.

The horse and cart was followed by a Roman soldier who in turn was followed by about twenty dishevelled men dressed in green tunics, with shiny tops and plumed helmets. Round their waists they had short, red 'skirts' with strips of leather hanging down. They were carrying spears, short swords and round shields. An even stranger thing was that they seemed to be walking on their knees. The ghosts, or whatever, went straight through the cellar.

Being understandably scared Harry scuttled to his feet and ran up the cellar stairs as fast as he could. He met the house's curator who looked at the apprentices white face and said, "You've seen the Roman soldiers, haven't you?"

It appears that several other reliable people had also experienced the same scene.

Though the curator believed Harry's story others didn't. It was too much to believe: soldiers walking on their knees and besides, Roman soldiers had large square shields not round ones as Harry had claimed to have seen.

But bit by bit answers came about.

The cellars of the Treasurer's House were excavated and it was found that there was an old Roman road about 15 inches below the floor's surface. So this was why the men appeared to be on their knees - they were really walking on the ancient road.

As for the round shields, in 1953 it was believed that Roman shields were large and rectangular. Later excavations of Hadrian's Wall discovered that auxiliary Roman soldiers did in fact have smaller, round shields.

Experts now agree that Harry's description of Roman Troops was accurate.

Harry Martindale never spoke publicly about what he had seen until the 1970s in a television interview. He gave up his plumbing career after the sighting and became a policeman, a reliable witness you would therefore think.

It's interesting that in an interview Harry told of how the soldiers he saw 'looked weary, miserable and dirty, shuffling along like an undisciplined rabble. Some looked ill, even wounded.'

Some ghostly sightings do seem to do the same things over and over again. They are like a dodgy video on loop, and when the circumstances or vibrations are right people can see the pictures. Emotions captured in their surroundings perhaps. Who knows, maybe Harry's soldiers had been part of some dreadful battle which imprinted itself on the Roman road.

Other Ghostly Posts:
The Ghost Of A Nun Was Herself In A Previous Life
Ghostly Rye: The Most Haunted Town In England
The Tickling Ghosts

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  1. pretty neat. thanks for posting.

    1. Thanks, always try to be 'neat'!

  2. Fascinating! This does sound like a ghost loop, a scene that plays out over and over again. I always wonder if this is some version of hell.

    1. 'A version of hell' - now there's a thought!

  3. Hi, Mike,
    You have a great site here. Can you believe that I heard the exact same story from the plumber's son almost 10 years ago. Amazing.

    1. Thanks Shari, nice to see you here.

  4. Anonymous22:55

    It is quite possible that what he saw was some sort of glitch in time that allowed him to view this scene as if it were occuring today. So rather than ghosts he was actually viewing a scene from the distant past.

    1. Could be, but I see it as more of seeing a 'recording' than a glitch in time. But who really knows!

    2. Anonymous21:15

      I remember the 1970's interview and it was all very believable and I agree with the recording theory as I think the essence of everything that ever happens is imprinted somehow somewhere and is out there to be tapped into...if only we could find out how!

  5. A wonderfull tale. Truly amazing.

  6. Excellent story.

  7. Did anyone ever hear of a ghost convoy, I seen a line of old time black cars in a large compound (which was locked), it was a sunny day. No one could have entered or leave, they looked completely solid and real. I also saw a real ghost, it was standing with its back to me, when suddenly it turned round and looked at me, to my horror it had no face at all, just blackness, I was trembling with fear after seeing it.