I think for me, my favorite ghost stories are ones that seem real or feel real.
When I was eighteen my family and I visited the British Isles as a graduation present. While in Edinburgh we did two “ghost” tours: one was campy and fun and took us around the city, the other was darker and took us underground. We began in a room display torture devices used to punish the criminals of Edinburgh and then our tour guide took us down to the buried road that for years was occupied by an underground world of outlaws and outcasts. In one room, women were asked to stand apart from men due to ghost activity that had resulted in more than one angry spouse.
But it was the last room we visited that really creeped me out. At the beginning of the tour, we visited a locked room (we could only look inside through bars) that was utilized by a local witch coven for their gatherings. Previously, they were located in the room at the opposite end of the hall. All that is left of their time there is a stone circle, which they created to contain the malevolent spirit that tortured a few of their members before they finally left the vault for their new one.
The tour guide warned us that due to liability requirements we were not allowed to set foot inside the circle if he was in the room with us. Previously, studies had been conducted into the history of the room and a scientific study of its heat signatures and energy signatures was done. The scientific study had shown unusual activity, and the historical research indicated that this was a room used for illegal abortions for prostitutes, many of whom died alongside their children at the ends of incompetent and greedy “doctors.”
I do believe in spirits, both restful and benevolent. I am a practicing witch and I generally use my intuition to tell if an area may have bad energy associated with it. This room made my blood run cold. I was relieved to leave it, as I could barely hear anything anyone said inside, so distracted by the circle and whatever was contained inside it. This was one of the very few times I felt real energy while in a purportedly haunted place, and I have gone on many “haunted history” type tours.
There’s also a ghost story that I learned when I was in undergraduate school. My friend wanted to photograph haunted places in the middle of nowhere for a project, and so we went on an eighteen-hour drive that took us to a few supposed haunted locations. In one, we passed over a bridge which used to be a gallows. Supposedly, a woman and her husband were hung there. He for theft, she for hiding him. Their ghosts are said to linger and can be appeased with a coin thrown into the water. I don’t know why, but that story has always stuck with me. The woman was hung before her husband, partly as a ploy to lure him out of hiding. He rode up on a horse to try and save her but the rope killed her before he could. Resigned, he was captured and hung mere moments later.