Overtoun Bridge

In Scotland, near Milton in West Dunbartonshire, you will find Overtoun House. The house was built between 1859 and 1863 and has served many purposes. But the house is not really what I wanted to talk to you about. It’s the bridge leading towards the house that has been keeping people very busy these past few years…

Overtoun House

Overtoun House -Rosser1954 via commons.wikimedia CC BY-SA-4.0

First, let’s take a closer look at Overtoun House. The house was built for the Rutherglen chemical manufacturer James White. His son, John Campbell White became the first Lord Overtoun. Lord Overtoun was a very charitable man, but a scandal which came to light in 1899, cast a shadow on his good nature. A man named Keir Hardie exposed the appalling working conditions for the people working for him in the chemical factory. Lord Overtoun himself never set foot in the Shawfield Chemical Works company, so it’s likely he wasn’t even aware of this.

Many purposes

Overtoun House has had many purposes in the past. Today, it’s a Christian Center, but it has also been a luxury tearoom, an emergency hospital during WWII, a maternity hospital and of course a home. The walls of the house must have absorbed a lot of energy. Of course there was this scandal that knocked the lord of his pedestal and the sorrow and probably death of soldiers during the war. And everyone who’s ever been in labour knows what kind of emotions childbirth can bring along. But, it’s not the house that’s haunted. It’s the bridge towards it.

Overtoun Bridge

Overtoun Bridge - Lairich Rig via geograph.org.uk CC BY-SA 2.0
Overtoun Bridge – Lairich Rig via geograph.org.uk CC BY-SA 2.0

Overtoun Bridge was built in 1859, mainly for transporting materials from and to the house. And later of course to access the house. It’s a normal stone bridge at first sight, with a deep drop. In October 1994, a mentally disturbed man by the name of Kevin Moy, dropped his two-week-old baby off the 15 meter high bridge. He believed his baby boy was the reïncarnation of the Devil. Moy then tried killing himself by jumping off the bridge himself, but he failed. He tried cutting his wrists later, but this failed as well. He has been admitted into a mental asylum ever since.

Suicide bridge

You’d say the bridge is now haunted by the little baby, but it’s not. In fact, people are not even entirely sure if it is haunted at all! The thing is, in the past 50 years, more than 50 dogs leaped to their deaths off the bridge. That’s right, Overtoun Bridge is nicknamed “Dog Suicide Bridge”. In 2005, 5 dogs leaped to their deaths in less than a 6 month period. And to make it even more strange: all dogs jump from the same spot, on the same side of the bridge, especially when it’s a clear day. And without exception, all dog breeds that jump have long noses, like labradors, collies and Golden Retrievers. Dogs who have survived the jump are bound to try again later. There’s obviously some kind of urge for them to do this.

Several theories

Overtoun Bridge - Jim Thornton via commons.wikimedia CC BY-SA 2.0
Jim Thornton via commons.wikimedia CC BY-SA 2.0

There are many theories involved in these events. According to the Celtic Mythology, Overtoun Bridge is the spot on earth where the heaven and earth are closest together. Because dogs are more sensitive in picking up certain vibrations, this gives them the extreme urge to jump off the bridge. Dog experts have been looking at this phenomenon as well.

Dr. David Sands, for instance, has done research on this place and the reaction of dogs towards it. He researched three elements that might cause these things to happen. These elements are: sight, sound and scent. Perhaps the dogs want to see what’s beyond the stone wall and jump a little too enthusiastic. But, that doesn’t explain the fact that the dogs all leap from the same side at the same spot, though.

Special scent

Dr. David Sands was able to exclude the elements “sight” and “sound” fairly quickly, and he concentrated on “scent”. Dogs have a much better smell than humans, we all know that. Under the bridge, 15 meters below, mice, squirrels and mink live. And he thinks the mink is the culprit here. Sands has experimented with dogs on open fields. He used mink urine in his experiment. All long-nosed dogs immediately went crazy. But, according to local hunter John Joyce, there hasn’t been one single mink in the whole area for years.

Overtoun Bridge today

Lairich Rig via geograph.org.uk
Lairich Rig via geograph.org.uk

In spite of the fact dogs tend to leap to their death it’s a much-loved area to walk. With dogs or without. Recently, a photo of the house was released showing a ghostly figure in the window. Perhaps this ghost encourages dogs to jump? Would you go for a walk here? Be sure to keep your dog on a leash!

Do you want to read more stories about haunted places in Europe? Click here!

Cover photo: Allan Ogg via commons.wikimedia CC BY-SA 3.0
Sources: wikipedia, geograph.org.uk, visitscotland.com, dailycal.org and haunted-scotland.co.uk
Address: Dumbarton G82 2SH, Scotland

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