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Statement of Joshua Gillespie regarding his time in the possession of an apparently empty wooden casket.


Joshua Gillespie and a group of friends travelled to Amsterdam to celebrate their graduation from Cardiff University, spending most of the trip on drugs. One afternoon, Joshua wandered off alone and got lost in the backstreets of the city. After finding his way back, he went to a café; when it was dark, he noticed a man was sitting with him. He was short and clean-shaven with short “brown-ish” hair and "an odd density" to him, though Joshua finds it hard to recall his appearance with certainty. The man introduced himself as “John” and claimed to be from Liverpool, calling himself an "Englishman inside a foreign land," although he did not have a noticeable accent. He told Joshua he was looking for a friend to look after a package for him until he had friends pick it up. He offered £10,000 in cash for this favour, which Joshua accepted. When John left, Joshua regretted the decision but was not able to leave to chase after John.

Joshua resolved to give John back the money but did not see him for the rest of the trip and did not receive any package. A year later he finally used the money for the deposit to rent a single-bedroom flat in Bournemouth, just off The Triangle. A week after he moved in, two large delivery men rang his doorbell and said they had a delivery addressed to Joshua Gillespie. They carried in a heavy cardboard box, approximately 2m x 1m x 1m, and left, answering no more questions.

There was no return address on the box, so Joshua opened it. Inside the box was a coffin made from unvarnished yellow wood. There was a thick iron chain around the coffin with a padlock and a key inside it, as well as a note from John: "Delivered with gratitude, J". On the coffin was scratched the phrase "Do Not Open" in 3 inch high letters. There was no smell from the box, so Joshua suspected it did not contain a corpse. The wood was warm to the touch, but the chain was cold. Joshua removed the key from the padlock and resolved to not open the coffin, moving it into the living room.

The coffin made Joshua nervous. One day he unwittingly put a glass of juice on top of the coffin, which resulted in a soft but insistent scratching which stopped when he removed the glass. He moved it to the other end of the lid with the same result, but the scratching did not stop for 5 minutes.

Whenever it rained, a soft, melodious moaning, almost like singing, muffled by deep soil, emanated from the coffin.

The coffin seemed to have an effect on Joshua's psyche. He had frequent but unremembered nightmares and kept waking up in a panic, unable to breathe. He also started sleepwalking, each time waking up before the coffin with the key in his hand, apparently about to open the lock. This led him to freeze the key in a bowl of water in the freezer so that the chill always woke him up before he could extricate the key.

About 18 months after the delivery, on a rainy day that dawned without the coffin's usual moaning, there was a knock at the door, which turned out to be John and the delivery men. They seemed surprised to see him and John said that he hoped the coffin had not been too much trouble. Joshua gave John the key but did not accompany them into the living room, so when screaming started he did not see who had screamed or why. The delivery men brought the coffin out, putting it into a van with the name 'Breekon and Hope Deliveries'. There was no sign of John, though.


Tim did some digging into this case and found that Breekon & Hope was the name of a delivery company based in Nottingham that went into liquidation in 2009, making it impossible to look into their records.

The housing association that owned the flat Joshua lived in kept extensive records and it appears that he was the only tenant in the 8-flat building for the two years these events took place. No one has lived there since and the building was eventually demolished.


This article contains information from later episodes of The Magnus Archives and may contain major spoilers for the setting and plot. Continue at your own risk.

  • Related entity: The Stranger and The Buried.
    • The coffin is an artefact of The Buried.
    • John, Breekon and Hope are agents of The Stranger.
  • This episode marks the first appearance of Breekon & Hope, who reappear throughout the series.
  • The coffin reappears in MAG 61, where it is finally opened, and in MAG 132, Jonathan Sims voluntarily enters the coffin in order to rescue Alice "Daisy" Tonner.
  • According to Breekon in MAG 128, John thought he could master the coffin’s power and bargain with it because it was in chains, but when Joshua passed the coffin’s test it turned on John and claimed him.


  • A deluxe transcript for this episode is available as bonus content on the Rusty Quill Patreon.
  • In the episode description Joshua's surname is spelled "Gellespie" while the official transcript spells it "Gillespie".