Boleskine Cemetery (and a side of witchcraft)

It was a gorgeous Scottish morning, the start of a day that held the promise of adventure and discovery. Mr. C and I were out early, cruising along the B852 (General Wade’s Military Road), on the south side of Loch Ness, when true to the promise, we happened upon a scenic, old cemetery, nestled in between the road and the loch. You know us. We just had to pull over and take a closer look.

We spent some time wandering around, reading gravestones, and snapping photos, awed by the beautiful setting.

Beautiful Loch Ness.
Bluebells in the woods adjacent to the grave yard.

I later did some research to try to glean some information about the history of the cemetery, but unfortunately, there just wasn’t a whole lot to be found. What I do know is that the roofless building in the corner of the yard is what remains of a medieval church – Old Boleskine Parish Church…

Medieval church ruin.

…and that the roofed building is an old mort house. A mort house was used to keep a coffined body under guard until it was no longer valuable to body snatchers. Think that wasn’t a real thing? Oh, it definitely was. In fact, stay tuned for an upcoming post about that very subject!

The mort house.

Although Boleskine Cemetery has reportedly been the subject of strange happenings, it turns out that the real point of interest is the house across the street from the cemetery. Just up an embankment, directly across from the graveyard, lies Boleskine House, a now burned-out home with a very dark history. Honestly, it must have been hidden by overgrown foliage because we didn’t even notice it was there!

Legend says that the house is built upon the site of an ancient church that burned with its entire congregation trapped inside. The home has been the subject of all manner of horrific tales…murder, suicide, disappearances, hauntings, and even one tale involving a butcher, his cleaver, and his hand! Without a doubt, though, the home’s real claim to fame is because of two of its previous owners.

In 1899, Aleister Crowley, a prolific English writer, painter, mountaineer, and occultist, purchased Boleskine House. Labeled as ‘The Beast’, ‘The Wickedest Man in the World’, ‘The Other Loch Ness Monster’, and a Satanist, Crowley was widely known for his ritualistic spiritual ceremonies, drug and sexual experimentation, and his use of black magic. His purchase of the remote Boleskine House was for the main purpose of carrying out his acts of witchcraft. Crowley, who died in 1947, was the subject of much intrigue and speculation and was a prominent figure in British counterculture. Even today he remains influential over certain sects.

Photo of Boleskine House (presumably taken before it was gutted by fire). Boleskine Cemetery sits just on the other side and down the small hill.
Photo credit: Google Maps

Jimmy Page, founder of the rock band Led Zeppelin, was apparently one of those individuals whom Crowley influenced. Also interested in the occult, Page purchased Boleskine House in the early 70’s. Though he reportedly spent little time there, he did film a disturbing fantasy sequence for the band’s movie, “The Song Remains the Same” on the grounds near the house.

Page no longer owns the home. Today the house (what little remains of it) is in the possession of the Boleskine House Foundation. Restoration efforts are under way and I understand that the group hopes to open the house to the public in the future. You can count me out.

You know, I have to say, I’m actually kind of glad I didn’t know about any of these things the day Mr. C and I stopped. Sometimes ignorance is bliss!

Well, that’s it for today. Take care, friends. See you next time.


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