‘Enlightened by the dark’: Dark tourism expert explains our fascination with death

Battersea: Crime scene of where teenager was stabbed to death

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info

Halloween is the perfect time to give yourself a good scare, but there’s more to the gruesome and horror than ghosts and vampires. Dark tourism is about travelling to places of “pain and shame across the world” specifically for their connection to a certain “difficult heritage”.

Dr Philip R. Stone is the Executive Director: Institute for Dark Tourism Research at the University of Central Lancashire.

As an expert on dark tourism, he explained this was first and foremost about “shining a light on the difficult heritage we all have a fascination with”.

Dr Stone described dark tourism as “the idea of visiting these places, of travelling to places with death, disaster, the macabre”.

By writing his guide book of 111 dark places in England, Dr Stone wants to highlights some of the stories that may have been forgotten.

READ MORE: ‘Saw us through a force 7 gale’: Campers share storm strap hacks

“Dark tourism provides a mirror of our mortality, for many people.”

The world’s fascination with the dark and difficult is something Dr Stone takes in his stride.

He said: “I think we’re really looking at ourselves, we’re gazing upon our own sense of mortality, when the dead become significant in our lives.

“We visit places like Auschwitz or Ground Zero, where that could have been you and me, where the ordinary becomes extraordinary and significant.”

The “traumascapes” Britons can go and visit are numerous, but one place was very evocative for the author.

He said: “I’ve the chance to visit loads of places, and I think the one that stood out is a story that’s long been forgotten.

“In St Annes on Sea, which is in Lancashire, there was a lady who was murdered in the late 1900s, Kitty Breaks.

“And her memorial is long gone, but it was through a folk song that I started researching this murder site.

“I put it in the book because the victim is long forgotten, and tourism is a way of bringing her back into public imagination. So I kind of pay homage to this murder victim, Kitty Breaks, and her story is now remembered, which brings her demise back to life.”

And while some stories may have been forgotten, some have been remembered for their villains.

“I think a story that’s important is Jack the Ripper.

“We celebrate the villain, but we forget the victims. I think it’s important not just to celebrate the villain but also the victim.

“The same with Dick Turpin, who’s been romanticised as this villain. But he was a violent gangster, terrorising the place.

“It just makes people think about these moments in history, that have a different side to them, not just romanticised or airbrushed out.”

He also included the 25 Cromwell students in the book.

“I lived in Gloucester in 1995 when the murders were being uncovered. And that house, the house of horrors as the media called it, has been obliterated from the landscape and there’s no memorial at all.”

Dark places may be “full of shock and awe”, but traumascapes are important remembrance locations.

Dr Stone said: “I think it’s really about shining a light on what we call traumascapes, where our significant dead remind us of our living as it were.

“It’s not about being scared, it’s really about being enlightened by the dark.”

111 Dark Places in England That You Shouldn’t Miss by Philip R. Stone is out now by Emons Publishing.

Source: Read Full Article