The case of an allegedly haunted 1980s computer that started communicating with a teacher in archaic English has baffled paranormal investigators for over 35 years. Known as the Dodleston messages, they were a series of communications a teacher received on a BBC microcomputer in 1985. This was before the internet was commonplace and the computer was not connected to a network.
The bizarre events sparked theories ranging from an elaborate hoax to an angry ghost. Some even suggest it was an attempt from both the past and the future to communicate with the present, but it all started with a set of mysterious footprints. The story resurfaced recently in a blog written by Allison Troutner for the website howstuffworks.com.
In 1985, Ken Webster and his girlfriend, Debbie, had recently moved into and were renovating the dilapidated 18th Century Meadow Cottage in the village of Dodleston in Cheshire, close to the North Wales border. During renovations the couple noticed strange, six-toed footprints in the dust, which seemed to walk up the walls between the bathroom and kitchen.
Feeling sure it was a prank, perhaps from some mischievous previous owner, Ken painted over the footprints and thought they were gone for good. The next day, the footprints returned.
Over the next few weeks the couple experienced a series of incidents that made them feel as though they were not quite alone. Tins of cat food had been neatly stacked in a pyramid and an eerie presence was felt in the cottage.
Ken was working as a teacher at a local school and had brought home a BBC micro computer he had borrowed. This was the point things really got weird.
Soon after the computer was set up, typed messages started to appear on its monitor. The first message appeared in the form of an ominous poem.
More messages soon followed. The writer appeared to be able to see both Ken and Debbie and asked about who they are before accusing them of stealing his house.
Days later, a second equally strange message came through, appearing to be written in some archaic version of English.
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It said: “I write on behalf of many – What strange words you speak – You are a worthy (good) man who has a fanciful woman, and you live in my house (who dwell in my home) – with lights which (the) devil makes – It was a great crime to have stolen (bribed) my house. – L.W.”
Over the next year and a half more messages continued to appear. Committed to discovering who was behind them, Ken asked a series of questions to try and find out the identity of the writer.
The presence appeared to be able to see the couple in the house. The writer after initially giving his name as Lukas, confessed his name was Thomas Harden or Hawarden – vicar with this name did appear to live around this time at a church in Gloucestershire.
It was then, Thomas said he had been in communication with ‘a friend from 2109’. Ken, intrigued, wrote a message to ‘2109’ on the computer and received a message.
The message read: “Try to understand that you three have a purpose that shall in your life time change the face of history, we, 2109, must not affect your thoughts directly but give you some sort of guidance that will allow room for your own destiny. All we can say is that we are all part of the same god, what ever, he is (?), is.”
More messages were left from 2109, who is reported to have expressed annoyance at finding out Lukas’ real name. Could the messages from Thomas (Lukas), 2109, and Ken and Debbie be from three different time lines using the BBC micro as a communication device?
Paranormal investigators were invited into the cottage by the couple. Despite attending on three occasions, they were unable to gain any answers after no activity occurred.
Eventually, Thomas said that he was being forced from his land and was never heard from again. But before he stopped his communications, he said that he would leave a book for his friends in the future.
Messages from 2109 later said the book would be found at some point. As of yet, no such book has been discovered.
The events at Meadow Cottage in 1985 and 1986 continue to be debated by those with an interest in researching the paranormal. Nick Pontyz, a researcher with a Master’s degree in early modern history, has been fascinated by the story and has written a blog on his investigations into the events.
Ken Webster also wrote a book about his alleged first hand experiences communicating with Thomas and 2109 called ‘The Vertical Plane’. What is known, is that the Dodleston messages continue to intrigue sceptics and believers alike 35-years later on.