COULD this chilling picture finally be proof of ghostly goings-on among the ruins of Netley Abbey?

The spooky image appears to show a shadowy figure lurking beneath an archway at the thirteenth century building.

Ghost experts say they are baffled by the appearance of the hooded-character and are investigating.

It has often been said that a Cistercian monk and former abbot both haunt the Abbey while tales have also been told of eerie chants ringing out from the derelict site.

Photographer Andrew Nicholson was archiving pictures on his computer when he found the image.

The 35-year-old dad of two said: “When I saw the photo, I showed it to a few friends who said ‘ y o u should do something with that.’ “Whatever the picture shows, it just reenforces my belief that there is much more to this world than we will ever know or understand.”

Mr Nicholson, of Rookley in Netley, said he was with family when he took the picture in February 2005 and denied the image was a hoax.

David Scanlan, founder of the Hampshire Ghost Club, said: “Is this a ghost? Is this a living person? We don’t know but further testing is under way.”

The most complete Cistercian monastery in Southern England, the Abbey was founded when a colony of monks crossed Southampton Water from Beaulieu to establish a new religious house in 1239.

It was set up by the Bishop of Winchester Peter des Roche under the patronage of Henry III.

After the dissolution of the Abbey by Henry VIII in 1536 the building was stripped and partially demolished by a series of owners before English Heritage took over the ruins.

English Heritage curator Pam Braddock said: “I have heard the stories about the spirits at Netley Abbey and know lots of people have seen something.

I never have but I’m such a cynic I wouldn’t believe in ghosts if one came up and slapped me on the chops.”

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