Jamaica’s Most Haunted : Port Royal Cemetery

November 24, 2016
The menacing remnants of what this now peaceful community once was.
Some of the graves in the Old Naval Cemetery.
The outside of the Old Naval Cemetery
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The residents, at least, were clearly convinced as to the spooky nature of our environs. Heartened by the additional information and the unquestionable belief of those we spoke to, we once more took up the hunt.

 

2:58 a.m. - Port Royal Cemetery

 

We arrived just in time for the witching hour, but Peter was not content to just watch and see what would happen. He greeted the duppies but again nothing.

"Christina, Kay, weh unno deh. A unnu wi a look fah," Peter bellowed at the top his voice.

The girls did not answer. This time Peter wanted to know the full names of the girls, not only so he could make a roll call, but to verify that they were buried there.

Maybe tired or absent, the girls did not answer to their full names either. And neither did their neighbours. THE STAR this time decided to comb the cemetery, maybe we could find a duppy somewhere hiding. We formed two groups, Daraine and Dwayne went one way and Peter, Troy and Jermaine the other.

It was Peter's team that came the closest as it had found an open grave. The concrete structure of the tomb had crumbled with age and fallen in, shattering the casket inside. Clearly visible at one end, poking out from the ruin of its resting place, was the leg bone of the deceased. There was no foot. THE STAR told the duppy that he might as well show himself as its skeleton was exposed. But nothing happened.

 

CHASED OUT

 

By 4:20 a.m., the search for duppies had become boring and THE STAR team was yearning for some excitement.

But what we got, we hadn't bargained for. A barrage of gunshots rang out in the air, not too far from the dead yard where we had taken up temporary residence. We looked at each other uneasily, and when a second barrage followed quickly on the heels of the first, we decided that those bullets sounded too real, and too close to make our ghost hunt worth it any longer.

We packed our equipment and left.

 

CONCLUSION

 

Are the cemeteries haunted? Is the town haunted? The observations of one team on one night are surely inadequate to answer such general questions definitively. But what we can and will say for certain is: on that night, the dead stayed in their graves.

And don't think it was the old white soldiers that had fired duppy shots. Those came from automatic weapons, not from muskets.

Of all the stories that have been told of Port Royal being haunted and that its cemeteries are places to shun after dark, it took THE STAR team three and a half hours of intense ghost hunting that revealed not a single phantom.

If there are ghosts, they went into hiding when THE STAR visited.

 

1 a.m., Friday, November 23:

 

THE STAR'S ghost hunting team of Daraine Luton, Peter Abrikian, Dwayne McLeod and Jermaine Evans arrived at the entrance to the Port Royal Naval Cemetery, the final resting place of many soldiers and sailors who died during the 17th century, many of yellow fever.

Stories have been told that on some nights the clouds above the cemetery take the shape of the haunted looking tombstones. Plenty has been said of how wicked the 'white duppies' are but it seems we were too much for them.

Armed with flashlights, knives and a few Guinness for refreshments, we walked though the cemetery hoping that a few 'pirates' would confront our intrusion, give chase, and declare us persona non-grata. But the duppies were 'too dead' for such excitement.

They were not even clever enough to recognise that one or two of us may have been timid and just a little game of hide and seek would have caused great excitement. All that bothered us were the sand flies that bit us the entire night.

Peter and Dwayne, for example, were apologetic whenever they stepped on a tomb.

Jermaine was putting on a brave face and a simple tug at his shirt would have floored him. He may want to deny that now, but throughout the night he ensured he was not by himself and was in the middle of the pack.

"Mi watch movies and the first man to disappear is the man at the back," he constantly remarked.

Daraine was not the bravest of the lot but he too welcomed some excitement. Afterall, he had walked with two green limes in his pocket to ward off the destruction.

As the night got older, nothing would quench Peter's desire to confront a duppy. "Show unno self," he shouted as he and Troy who had showed up sporting a caver's headlamp at about 1:30 a.m., braved the heavy vegetation through the cemetery.

But after more than one and a half hours in the Naval dead yard, and various attempts at communication, including an 'offering' or two to try and entice the dead to reveal themselves, we began to ask ourselves whether or not it was really haunted at all. Well, since the duppies were 'dead', our next best plan was to head to town and seek the assistance of the living.

 

2:40 a.m., Port Royal town

 

The 'witching hour' (3 a.m.) was fast approaching and we still had seen no ghosts. Surely, if Port Royal residents could point us to a ghost spot that would make our night.

Annie, a 44-year-old resident said that everywhere in Port Royal haunted but "di cemetery worse". "Which one of the cemeteries?" THE STAR enquired. "Di two a dem she said," while 'wining' her big backside, albeit not to the rhythm of the blaring sound system she was listening to.

"Some girl out deh who dem time a night yah tek vehicle come ova and soldiers a march up and down di place," Annie said.

'Bagga' and 'LG' told more scary duppy stories of Port Royal and the cemeteries. The men, who were sharing the company of J. Wray and his Nephew, swore that they were not drunk and what they were telling was the gospel truth.

"This whole town is haunted," Bagga admonished, "from Fort Charles right back to the old cemetery."

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