Why Have So Many Dogs Leaped off a Scottish Bridge?

leap scottish bridge

It sounds like something from a Stephen King novel, but it’s a well-documented phenomenon. Dogs walking with their owners along a road in Dumbarton, Scotland are suddenly struck by the desire to jump from Overtoun Bridge into the gorge below. This bizarre canine trend has been happening since the 1950s, old-timers say. More than 300 dogs have jumped off the gothic stone structure, and at least 50 have died on the craggy rocks in the 50-foot (15.2-m) gorge. Some have hypothesized that the scent of other animals in the gorge causes dogs to whip themselves into a frenzy. Others believe that there are supernatural forces at work, and that the dogs are somehow being coerced into committing suicide.

brown dog in a field

A walk on the wild side:

  • According to Dumbarton’s superstitious residents, the location of the bridge fits the description of what the pagan Celts called “a thin place,” a term used to describe a spot where heaven and earth overlap.
  • The Victorian-era bridge was built in 1895. It was originally part of a driveway used to access a 19th-century manor built by James White, a wealthy Dumbarton industrialist.
  • Talk with locals and you’ll hear about the “White Lady of Overtoun,” the grieving widow of James White’s son, John. Her ghostly image has been seen in windows, and spotted walking around the grounds of Overtoun House, they say.

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