I love learning about stories of ghost sightings from the past. I discovered an intriguing one from the 12th century on Medievalists.net: The Medieval Walking Dead. Following is an excerpt. If you like it, I encourage you to read the full story on Medievalists.net.
“One of the strangest stories to be written down in the Middle Ages comes from the pen of Orderic Vitalis, a twelfth-century monk. From the abbey of Saint Evroult in Normandy, Orderic wrote his Ecclesiastical History, offering one of the best accounts of the Anglo-Norman world up the year 1141. Orderic wrote about the reigns of the kings William I to Stephen, the political events that happened locally and abroad, and even about the news coming from his own monastery.
“At one point in Book Eight of his Ecclesiastical History, Orderic pauses from discussing the warfare between William Rufus and his rebellious count Robert of Belleme, and states, ‘I am sure that I should not pass over in silence or consign to oblivion something that happened to a priest in the diocese of Lisieux on January 1st.’ Orderic explains that the priest was named Walchelin, and ‘he was a young man, strong and brave, well-built and active.’ On the night of January 1, 1091, he was returning home after a visiting a sick man at the far end of his parish. He was travelling along the road, far from from any homes, when he heard the sounds of a great army coming towards him.” […]
“Walchelin stayed at the side of the road as he watched thousands of people walk by. First came the peasants, who were carrying across their necks and shoulders their clothes, animals, furniture and other worldly goods. To the priest they seemed to be a mob of people who were carrying off the plunder from an attack.
“Then came hundreds of women, riding side-saddle on horses, but the saddles were marked with red hot nails. As the women rode, they would jump off their saddles and into the air, and then land back on the nails, leaving them burned and stabbed. After them came a crowd of priests, monks, even bishops and abbots, all dressed in black cowls and groaning and lamenting as they passed by. ‘Next followed a great army of knights in, which no colour was visible save blackness and flickering fire. All rode upon huge horses, fully armed as if they were galloping to battle and carrying jet-black standards.’
“What scared Walchelin so much was that he recognized many of these people—they were his neighbours and fellow clergy, but they had all died in recent years. There were even people that Walchelin and others thought to be good Christians, even considered saints. But they were here too, walking with this army of the dead.”
Continue reading at The Medieval Walking Dead.