Harry Martindale at only 18 years of age was witness to one of the most famous hauntings in York, which has been noted and recorded worldwide.
“I was an 18 year old apprentice working for a local firm here in York called Souksmith’s and because I was 18 I was able to do work on my own because I was an apprentice. I had to go to Treasurers House to do some alterations to the central heating and I was completely on my own and did several bits of work in the house and then I had to go into the cellar.
Now the cellar, the way I could describe it then , was a cellar about 18 feet square with an arched ceiling and then like a ramp on one side. Now the old Curator that was in Treasurers House he didn’t like us working in the building because we were disturbing his peace and quiet. Well I mention this because in the central cellar floor there’d been excavated the original roman road, I didn’t know it had been, I was told later. And someone had been in there and had laid the road out and gone down about 18′ to the bottom of it and they’d laid it out in sections of different types of stone and it would’ve been about 6′ in diameter. The Curator, I asked him if I could borrow a ladder off him because I had to knock a hole through the ceiling and very reluctantly he lent me one that was broken, had some rungs missing.
I started to knock a hole through the ceiling at the edge of the wall, I’ve no idea but now we know that the ceiling was at least 6 feet thick, arched and of course the thickest (part) was on the edge. So I was all alone one day banging away at this ceiling with this hammer and chisel and I kept having to go and get extensions. I came down here the following day to continue to knock the hole through the ceiling.
Just before lunchtime. I can’t safely say I can put a minute on it, but I started to hear the sound of musical notes, no tune, just a blaring of a musical note and I thought “That’s unusual’ because I was out of the way and the nearest place was the boiler house. Then I realised it was getting louder and louder and at the same time I realised that it was coming from the wall that I was leaning on with the ladder. So I would have been about 3 rungs up the ladder and when I realised it was coming from the wall I just glanced down because something moved and in line with my waist on the right-hand side here I saw a helmet, the top of a helmet come out of the wall. Obviously with a figure underneath it.
Now we’re sat here now but I can assure you that if anything happens that will frighten you the first thing you’ll do is to step back away from whatever frightened you. And I did, I stepped back, landed and I was down three steps of the ladder and I landed on me behind and then scrambled into the corner of the cellar, I couldn’t get any nearer and I couldn’t get out. The exit was there and whatever it was, this roman soldier that came out of the wall.
Now it was almost a complete figure of a roman soldier except that when he came across to where the road had been excavated I could see him from his sandals up but when he first came out of the wall I couldn?t see any of him from the knees down because the surface of the roman road is about 18? below the surface. He came across the cellar at a slight angle to me and going towards the wall opposite but as soon as he cleared the wall then as far as I’m sat here a horse started coming straight out of the wall with a roman soldier sat astride him.
Now I could see them exactly as I can see you now, they weren’t no wisp of smoke, they weren’t whirly, you know, the atmosphere didn’t change, they were human beings as came out of the wall except they were dressed as roman soldiers. Because I could see that I thought all they had to do was just look to where I was and I’d had it. This is fear, I mean, fear, it’s dreadful. I never went through that fear in the police force in 50 years as what I did in that cellar.
Now to explain how they were dressed they first thing I saw when I looked down was the coloured plumes on the top of the metal helmet and then when I saw them I only saw them from the front and slightly to their right-hand side. The first thing that struck me was how small they were. Now I would have imagined them to be great big men but they weren’t, they were only small men. The helmet came underneath the chin and for every one of them I could see a growth of hair, but no features, I couldn’t tell if they were Japanese or Americans but they certainly weren’t English.
The top of the outfit that they wore was like leather and then it had a skirt, a green material skirt, but strips of leather going round as far as I could see. Now their armaments were on the right-hand side, they were carrying a short sword like an oversized dagger and I was told later it should have been on the other side, they (interviewers) were trying to catch me but it was on the right hand side.
One of them was carrying a large shield with a round bulb in the middle of it which was found out to be an English shield, the horse … a great big cart horse. Now why I say that was because when it was going across the road it had really bushy fetlocks like a Shire horse or a cart horse.
As they were going across the cellar from one side t?other I could hear movement, there was mumbling but no speech I definitely heard the horse as they were going through. But the relief to me was a slight relief as I say, not one of them looked in my direction, I don’t know what I would have done if they had’ve done.
So when the last one had gone through and I couldn?t hear or see anything else I made my escape out of cellar. I don’t know how long I had been sat on the top of these stairs but the old Curator, he came out to me and he saw me and he said “By the look of you, you’ve seen the roman soldiers?.”