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With many British universities dating back hundreds of years, it’s unsurprising to find that some possess a fabled history of supernatural links. With their combination of history, literature, and historic architecture, these universities have become revered for their gothic aesthetics and purported connections to the spirit world.
But which UK universities are the most haunted? In a bid to find out more, The Knowledge Academy conducted a study on 64 universities in the UK. Looking at factors such as:
The number of cemeteries and gravestones
The number of listed buildings within two miles of each university campus
The count of paranormal reports within a two-mile radius
From this, we were able to calculate an average score out of ten to reveal the most haunted universities in the UK.
The subject of the paranormal has been a source of fascination for people throughout the centuries. From spooky, spoken-word tales passed down the generations to box office gothic and horror movies that pack cinemas around the world, the concepts of spirits, ghosts, and haunted houses continue to captivate people of all ages.
Whether it’s the frivolous fun of a Halloween gathering or the more intense pursuits of Ouija boards and ghost hunts, almost everyone has some experience of embracing horror culture.
Let’s see which universities you should add to your travel list if you enjoy a good spook…or which to avoid if you’re scared of the paranormal.
Founded in the nineteenth century, Liverpool’s primary university is deeply tied to historical figures from years gone by. With its world-renowned Abercrombie Square named after British General Sir Ralph Abercromby who died in the Battle of Alexandra in 1801, the University’s historic buildings serve as a reminder of the ghosts of yesteryear.
It’s no surprise then to find the North West establishment at the top of our list of the most haunted universities in the UK. With 275,108 memorials within a two-mile radius and 23 recorded instances of paranormal activity, Liverpool University achieved an exceptional average score of 8.28.
The University of Liverpool is not alone at the top though, with the University of Bath in joint first place.
Despite being founded over eighty years later than Liverpool University, the University of Bath can lay claim to some supernatural heritage of its own. With the city’s nearby Theatre Royal said to be a favoured haunt of lovesick eighteenth-century ghost The Grey Lady, Bath has more than enough haunted history to captivate the most ardent horror enthusiast.
With a monumental 2,317 listed buildings in close proximity and 27 counts of paranormal activity, the southwest city also received a final rating of 8.28.
Sitting atop ancient Roman ruins in the historic city of Lincoln, Bishop Grosseteste University ranks third on our list of most haunted campuses in the UK, with a bone-chilling score of 8.16. With over 90,000 memorials spread across 33 nearby cemeteries, this small university is shrouded in supernatural energy.
Students and staff have reported over two dozen ghostly encounters on campus grounds, from phantom screams echoing through the halls at night to visions of ghostly monks drifting through the library stacks.
As a county that’s home to Hever Castle, a historic site thought to be orbited by the ghost of Henry VIII’s beheaded wife Anne Boleyn, it’s no surprise to find Kent’s main university in our top 10.
There are a total of 34 nearby cemeteries with 32,193 memorials inside, and 33 reports of paranormal activity around the campus, which means the University of Kent obtained a lofty final score of eight out of 10.
With steeps of mediaeval heritage found throughout its historic city, it’s only natural to find the University of York near the top of our list. From its world-renowned cathedral to its notorious gothic dungeons, the North Yorkshire city has long been a favoured destination for those with a preference for the eerie side of history.
With nearly 1,200 nearby listed buildings and 60 cemeteries, The University of York claimed the fifth spot with a formidable final score of 7.98.
Nestled in the historic county of Devon, the University of Exeter finds itself surrounded by centuries of paranormal activity. With 59 reported supernatural encounters and over 13,000 memorials spread across 46 nearby cemeteries, it's no wonder this prestigious university ranked number six on our list with a haunting score of 7.85.
From ghostly apparitions roaming the gothic architecture of Reed Hall to disembodied voices echoing through the ageing corridors of Northcote House, Exeter has no shortage of spine-chilling stories. And with more than 600 listed buildings in close proximity to campus, students frequently report unexplained phenomena disrupting their studies.
Named after the renowned businessman and philanthropist, Liverpool John Moores University was the second establishment from the Merseyside city to reach our top 10. Located alongside many of the buildings and cemeteries that gave The University of Liverpool its high score, John Moores University has some supernatural history of its own, with the famous John Foster Building mythologised for harbouring the spirits of those who’ve passed on.
With 964 nearby listed buildings and 22 recorded cases of paranormal activity, the university finished joint-fourth with an impressive score of 7.69.
Northern Ireland's prestigious Queen's University Belfast ranks at number eight on our list of most haunted campuses, with a bone-chilling score of 7.64. Though the university only had five reported paranormal encounters, its proximity to a staggering 216,699 memorials spread across 30 nearby cemeteries creates an undeniably creepy atmosphere.
From the mournful cries of deceased students emanating from the university library late at night, to ghostly figures drifting aimlessly through the halls of the Medicine and Dentistry Building, Queen's University is a hotspot for unexplained occurrences. And with the notorious haunted Cairndhu House nearby, students report feeling watched by unseen eyes as they make their way to class each day.
Though the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland may seem like a modern campus, paranormal activity lurks around every corner. Ranking at number nine on our list with an eerie score of 7.56, the university saw 28 reported supernatural encounters despite its relative youth.
Surrounded by over 65,884 memorials scattered across 26 nearby cemeteries, an ominous energy permeates the grounds. Students report flickering lights, doors slamming shut, and voices whispering their names when no one else is around. Apparitions dressed in Victorian clothing are occasionally spotted roaming the campus quad at night.
As a city steeped in literature and historic architecture, it should come as no surprise to find an Oxford-based university in our top 10. With an average rating of 7.51, the less famous of Oxford’s two universities was found to be in close proximity to over 1,100 listed buildings and more than 50 cemeteries.
Despite only being founded in 1992, Oxford Brookes is surrounded by enough haunted history to rival many of the more historic universities on our list.
1. With Halloween fast approaching, TheKnowledgeAcademy.com were curious to know which UK universities are the most haunted by analysing the average age of each university, the number of cemeteries, gravestones, paranormal reports and listed buildings within a 2-mile radius, alongside how long they’ve been listed for.
2. Firstly, a seed list of universities was gathered by utilising Deparkes.co.uk. Each university’s centroid locations were established.
The centroids were based on the centre of each university's main campus.
3. Only campus universities were considered in this piece. In the instance that a university had more than one campus, only the main campus was used. Universities spread out or located in multiple locations were omitted from that data. This list of universities was gathered from theuniguide as well as personal research.
4. The foundation date (the year the institute gained university status) was obtained through Wikipedia. The older the university, the higher its score for this variable.
5. Data corresponding to historic listed buildings was taken from each counties’ respective government. For each university, a 2-mile radius was calculated around the centre coordinate. Then, each listed building that landed in this radius was counted.
6. An average number of years passed since the buildings were listed was calculated in each university’s radius.
Note the resulting value is not the age of the building. Instead, we can assume that a building listed in 1960 is older than a building listed in 2010 – it merely acts as an indicative figure.
The ‘Year built’ was not available in any of these data sets, therefore the date the building was listed as historic was used instead.
Note: The Irish dataset did not contain the time each building was listed. To replace this value, the University of Belfast was given the average years passed of other Universities in the dataset, in order to allow it to be ranked, but as to not hinder or help it in the rankings.
7. Haunted locations across the UK were obtained from paullee.com. Haunted locations were counted in a 2-mile radius around the university campus centre.
8. Subsequently, cemeteries within 2 miles were counted. The count of gravestones in each of these cemeteries were also collated to give an overall estimated sum. Gravestone data was gathered from findagrave.com. Note: This data is community driven, meaning the data could be inaccurate or incomplete in areas.
9. Finally, the experts applied a PERCENTRANK formula across all variables and calculated a final spooky score for each university. The university that scored the highest is identified as the most haunted.
10. All data was collected on 10.2023 and is correct as of then.