Lady Seton’s Cairo Curse – Edinburgh

Whilst stealing is never a good idea, stealing from an ancient burial site is especially foolish. As tempting as it may be to pocket a relic as a souvenir, it should always be remembered that tomb desecration is said to evoke dark and dangerous forces. For one aristocratic Edinburgh family this lesson was learned all too late. When, in 1937, Lady Seton returned home from a touring trip of Egypt and proudly exhibited bone fragments that she had removed from an ancient tomb in Cairo, little did she know that her sacrilegious memento came accompanied by a terrible curse

Things began to get strange some weeks after Lady Seton and her Baronet husband, Sir Alexander, returned to their Scottish home following their excursion to Egypt. The couple, who were part of Edinburgh‘s elite social set, were hosting a dinner party for a select few of their closest friends. As the night drew to a close, the Seton’s produced a small wooden and glass case containing the relic bones and invited their guests to inspect it. One by one, the couple’s companions took turns to hold and view the box. Once everyone’s curiosity was satisfied, Sir Alexander decided to bring the dinner party to a conclusion, but as the guests were about to leave, a huge lump of the Seton’s hallway ceiling came crashing to the floor, narrowly missing the group. So began a series of strange events that would eventually lead the couple to believe that they had brought an ancient curse upon themselves.

Several weeks past before the next bizarre incident took place at the Seton’s Edinburgh home. The couple had retired to their bedroom one evening when their peace was suddenly disturbed by the household’s nanny, who loudly knocked at their door. The nursemaid claimed to have heard the sound of heavy footsteps coming from downstairs. She was extremely distressed and was certain that an intruder was in the building. Sir Alexander was not the type of man to allow a marauder to prowl through his home unchallenged. He raced downstairs to confront the scoundrel only to find the house empty. He returned to his bedroom, where he attempted to settle down for the night. However, moments later, he too heard a strange noise coming from downstairs. Having already searched the premises once, the noble baronet felt comfortable ignoring the sound. The next morning he discovered that the table upon which he had placed the case containing the bone relic had been overturned during the night.

Poltergeist activity like that described above continued for weeks, intensifying day-by-day. Entire rooms were ransacked overnight. Books, paintings and ornaments would be scattered by some unknown force and were often destroyed in the process. The bone relic always seemed to be at the center of the chaos. The mysterious goings-on were witnessed by countless visitors to the couple’s house. On one occasion, Sir Alexander’s nephew was staying at the property. He was about to retire for the night when he spotted a man in strange clothing climbing the stairs ahead of him. Perturbed, he quickly found his uncle and explained what he had just seen. A hunt was on and once again the entire building was searched room-for-room, but no intruder was found.

Eventually, the Baronet grew very weary of all the turmoil and turbulence that had invaded his home. The nightly disturbances were grinding him down. What’s worse, the print press in both the United Kingdom and the United States heard the rumors of the extraordinary haunting and had turned it into a headline story. Sir Alexander and Lady Seton now found themselves at the eye of a sensational media storm and this caused them much embarrassment. Enough was enough. Against the wishes of Lady Seton, Sir Alexander instructed a Catholic priest to visit his home and perform an exorcism. After this, he took the bone fragments from the case and incinerated them. Sure enough, this put an end to the paranormal activity and Seton’s home returned to relative calm.

Interestingly, during the Seton family’s supernatural ordeal, Sir Alexander received a letter from Howard Carter, the celebrated discoverer of King Tut’s infamous tomb. In this letter, Carter keenly expressed his belief in the Baronet’s account of events. He also advised that it was quite possible for paranormal activity to be caused by the presence of ancient relics, adding that he was aware of other examples of such activity. So it seems Sir Alexander was not alone. Wealthy Brits across the country had been acquiring relics from Egypt and other distant lands for decades. Who knows what dark forces came with them?

Featured image by Keith Yahl and used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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