The haunting of Arnish Moor and the links to an old murder

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There are a number of spooky stories which have originated from the Western Isles.

One of them hails from an area believed to have been haunted many years ago – Arnish Moor on the Isle of Lewis.

However, there have been no reported ghostly apparitions on the roadside since a body was discovered on the moor in 1964...

Before then local folklore claimed a ghost had been seen by a distinctive white rock at the bottom of a hill (thought to be Creag a’Bhodaich).

It was said to be the spirit of a local young man who had been murdered there in the 1700s.

Here the story of how he died can be recounted. Apparently two young men, who should have been at school, had been on Arnish Moor looking for grouse eggs.

They ended up arguing over the collection and one of them reached for a rock before hitting the other on the head, killing him.

He dug a hole and buried him by the rock before heading out to sea to escape what he had done.

He stayed away for years before returning one day as an adult. He wasn’t recognised by anyone and decided to stay at a local inn for the night.

He was given his supper and this arrived along with some unusual cutlery ....

He enquired about the strange handles on the utensils and the landlady who had served him explained they had been made from sheep bones discovered on Arnish Moor.

He then noticed how the cutlery handles began to bleed when he touched them and it transpired that the sheep bones were actually the bones of his former friend – with an old legend recounting that the corpse of a murder victim will proceed to bleed if touched by the victim’s killer.

The man was shaken to the core by this and proceeded to confess to the killing. He was then hanged for his crime at the gallows in Stornoway.

For many years it has been said that the the white rock was reputed to be haunted by the victim, with the murderer reportedly seen where he was hanged.

In the mid 1960s a skeleton which was thought to be that of a young man was found by two men on the moor.

The remains were analysed by staff at the Forensics’ Department at Edinburgh University, who discovered the body was that of a young man who had died after receiving a fatal blow to the head.

The clothing found on the skeleton is believed to have dated back to around 1700, at around the time when the murder is understood to have occurred on Arnish Moor ...

This story is featured in the latest issue of our sister title ‘Back in the Day’ which is out now.

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