Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you enjoyed the holiday season. Time to kick of 2022 with a new Mystery Monday post. This month, we’re going across the pond to the country of Scotland.
Overtoun House is a nineteenth-century country mansion built between 1860 and 1863 near West Dunbartonshire, Scotland. Originally owned by James White, a retired lawyer and co-owner of a chemical company, the house sits on a hill overlooking the River Clyde.
After White’s death in 1884, his son John inherited the house and surrounding property. John wanted to expand the almost two-thousand-acre estate and acquired additional land. A waterfall on the Overtoun burn divided the eastern and western sides of the property. To solve this problem he hired landscape artist Henry Milner to design a bridge. The beautiful stone structure, comprised of three arches, was completed in 1885.
During the 1950s, local residents began referring to the bridge as the “Bridge of Death” or “Dog Suicide Bridge,” when it was reported that dogs began leaping from the bridge to the ravine below. The story gained more prominence between 2000 and 2010. Approximately fifty dogs have died from the fall with over six hundred surviving the leap.
In 2004, a man and his family were walking their Golden Retriever when it suddenly bolted and leaped from the bridge. The dog survived but, as you might expect, was traumatized by the incident. In 2005 at least five other dogs jumped over the course of six months.
In 2014, Alice Trevorrow walked with her Springer Spaniel when she reported a strange incident. “I had parked up and as she is so obedient, I didn’t put her leash on… Me and my son walked toward Cassie, who was staring at something above the bridge… she definitely saw something that made her jump. There is something sinister going on. It was so out of character for her.”
A number of theories have been proposed as to the cause of this strange behavior. Canine psychologist David Sands believed a combination of the surrounding foliage, the extremely deep drop-off that appears to be rather even, and the scent of male mink urine lures the dogs to jump. Some have disputed this theory, stating there are no mink in the area.
In 2019, Bob and Melissa Hill, the current owners of Overtoun House, stated that in seventeen years of living there they had witnessed a number of dogs become agitated and fall from the bridge. He believes dogs catch the scent of mink, pine martens, or other animals. Hill, a former pastor, also said he thinks the grounds of the house holds some sort of spiritual quality.
Local teacher Paul Owens argues for the possibility of supernatural activity. He states dogs and other animals are more sensitive to such activity and believes darks spirits could be luring the dogs to their deaths.
Whatever the case, something is luring dogs off the Overtoun Bridge. It often happens in the same spot and is always on dry, sunny days. No matter the reason, dog owners crossing the bridge would be wise to exercise caution and keep their dogs on leashes.