Established in 1839, Highgate Cemetery is a burial ground in North London holding over 50,000 graves and, according to stories dating back to the 1960s, the home of a vampire. The legend of this blood sucking corpse, commonly referred to as The Highgate Vampire, is fascinating and reported sightings of the monster continue to this day.
The earliest sightings occurred in 1963 when two girls reported observing a horrific sight while walking home after visiting a friend in Highgate Village. As the two passed the cemetery, along Swain’s Lane, they were horrified to see what they described as bodies rising from their tombs.
Two weeks later, a couple was also walking past the cemetery and reportedly spotted a deathly face hovering in the darkness over the northern gates’ iron railings. According to the pair, they were transfixed for what seemed like several minutes, staring at the horrific and hideous sight.
As news of these sightings spread, more witnesses came forward to report similar encounters with the dead. Common in many of the stories, were the descriptions of either a spectral figure or a shadowy figure moving between the gravestones. As reports of the sightings made their way to the local newspaper, curious investigators soon found animal carcasses drained of blood littering the cemetery.
However, eight years after the first sightings, things took a turn for the worse and the encounters turned physical. In 1971 a young girl was attacked by a figure on Swain Lane, just beside the graveyard. As she was returning home in the early hours of the morning a tall, black figure with a “deathly” white face appeared from the darkness and hit her with tremendous force. Fortunately for her, a motorist saw the attack and stopped to assist her. The brightness of the headlights drove the creature off the road and back into the night.
The girl, understandably shocked, was taken to the police station and only suffered abrasions to her arms and legs. The police conducted a thorough search of the area around the crime scene but found no sign of the attacker. However, they were confounded because the area of the road where the attack took place was lined by 12 foot walls which would have been near impossible for a man to have climbed without assistance.
During another encounter, a man claims he was hypnotised by something in the cemetery during an evening visit. Regardless as to the reasons why the man was in the cemetery at night, somehow he became disorientated and lost his way. Abruptly, he was aware of something behind him and upon turning, he became immediately “hypnotised” by a dark figure. Despite his terror, he was unable to run and held in place for several minutes. Later, when he recounted the story, he said he felt paralyzed with fear.
Was a vampire behind these encounters and attacks? Many firmly believe the answer is “yes”, claiming the circumstances behind these and similar encounters support the argument the creature of Highgate firmly belongs in the vampire category rather than that of a ghost or spirit.
Over the years, many explanations and theories have been proposed to explain the sightings. One of the more popular theories suggests the vampire calls the cemetery home because it was built upon a ley line; perhaps drawing energy and power from it. Researcher David Farrant suggests in his book on the Highgate Cemetery that the power of the lines creates psychic energy allowing the vampire to manifest. He also believes the hub of power in the graveyard is at a large circle of tombs called the Circle of Lebanon and crosses through two nearby pubs, The Flask and Ye Olde Gatehouse.
In fact, the entire area around the cemetery is home to a host of strange activity not thought directly connected to the vampire and Farrant’s theory of ley lines may be the explanation why. One notable example of suspected paranormal activity involves a man vanishing without a trace while walking his dog near the old Roman Settlement. The man reported observing a figure, perhaps the vampire, prior to his disappearance. In another instance, a man returned to his car parked on Swain’s Lane only to find a freshly dug up corpse waiting inside. Strangely, the car was still securely locked. Lastly, a woman reported witnessing a dark figure, with luminous eyes; vanish into the cemetery wall – also on Swain’s Lane.
You can learn more about the history of Highgate Cemetery here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uS5isAAAv0