SCOTLAND has something of a long history with ghosts and ghouls, with its many castles and closes playing host to a variety of white ladies, headless pipers and many other macabre spirits. Here, your fearless Scotsman.com team report on some of Scotland’s spookiest locations.
Being based in Edinburgh, we don’t have to travel very far to find some of the capital’s - and indeed Scotland’s - most haunted locations. Mary King’s Close on the Royal Mile for example, along with the Vaults on Niddry Street. But Scotland’s history has produced far more ghostly tales and happenings than those confined to the major cities.
It’s not just castles or stately homes, either: Culloden Moor in Inverness-shire and Roslyn Chapel to the south-east of Edinburgh are frequently included in ghostly locations around the country.
Fyvie might seem like a picturesque castle, but it has played host to some particularly ghostly happenings. A story tells us that in 1920, during restoration work, the skeleton of a woman was discovered behind a secret bedroom wall. The castle residents buried the remains in the nearby Fyvie cemetery, only to be plagued with strange noises and odd things occurring in the castle. As a result, the Laird at the time had the skeleton exhumed, and replaced where it had been found - thus putting an end to the paranormal activity. Whether or not this is the same secret room in the south-west corner that must remain sealed, ‘lest anyone enter meet with disaster’ is unclear.
One of Fyvie’s resident ghosts is Lilias Drummond, also known as the Green Lady, who died in 1601 at the tender age of 21. She was allegedly starved to death for being unfaithful to her husband Alexander Seton, or for failing to provide him with a male heir, with tradition suggesting that she was imprisoned in the Douglas Room. Legend has it that on the wedding night of Seton and his second wife, sighing and scratching noises were heard from outside their bedroom window. In the morning, the words ‘D Lilias Drummond’ were found carved upside down on the sill, from the outside, which can still be seen today.
In the 1700s, a trumpeter called Andrew Lammie, fell in love with the miller’s daughter Agnes, but her parents did not approve. The Laird at the time wanted Agnes for a mistress, and sent Lammie to the West Indies as a slave. Although he managed to escape and return home, Agnes was dead by the time he returned. In revenge he vowed that the sound of a trumpet would foretell the death of every Laird of Fyvie.
Since Lammie’s death, a trumpet has indeed been heard in the dead of night before the death of the Laird and on some occasions, a tall, shadowy figure of a man dressed in tartan has been seen by the castle walls.
The castle also plays host to a lesser-known Grey Lady. Very little is known about her, but it’s possible that this ghost is a lady who was buried behind the fire place in the 1480s.
Mary King’s Close is infamous for its supernatural tales, and for the quite gruesome accounts of children struck down with the plague being bricked up in walls to try and contain the disease. Visitors to the Close have also reportedly heard scratching coming from a chimney in which a young sweep died.
Some visitors have also reported hearing sounds of a party or crowded tavern whilst a ghostly figure has been seen pacing up and down in an agitated manner.
By far the strangest tale, however, is that of the little girl known as Annie, who has been known to hold people’s hands and whisper in the ears about looking for her mum or dog. According to the Close’s website, a Japanese psychic visited the close a few years back and ever since, visitors have brought toys and money for Annie in a bizarre shrine.
The Close was also home to a butcher’s, a baker’s and a candlestick maker, although no references to a tub have ever been found...
Perhaps not unusual for a property with a history as rich and as varied as Dunstaffnage Castle, a number of historic figures have connections with the 1,300-year-old castle. Robert the Bruce captured it in 1309, and Flora MacDonald, who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape to Skye, was imprisoned there for a time in 1746.
The castle itself has been under siege and rebuilt numerous times throughout history, and is home to a ghostly lady dressed in green, who wanders the ramparts when important events are about to unfold for the castle’s owners - Clan Campbell.
The nature of the upcoming events can be predicted by the lady’s expression, with a smile foretelling good fortune but weeping spelling misery for the family.
4. Roslyn Chapel, Edinburgh
To the south-east of Edinburgh lies Roslyn Chapel, immortalised in print by Dan Brown in ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and the film of the book starring Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou. Built for the Sinclair family as a burial vault in the 1400s, ghostly flames are said to appear in the now world-famous vault when one of the Sinclairs is about to die.
There have also been reported sightings of an apprentice mason, murdered by his teacher, making an appearance in the chapel. There certainly is a chilling feeling in the air at the chapel, but whether that’s an indication of a paranormal presence or just the Scottish weather is unclear...
5. Culloden Moor, Inverness
The site of the vicious Battle of Culloden in 1746, when Bonnie Prince Charlie’s rebel army were crushed by government troops, Culloden Moor receives thousands of visitors every year.
With huge numbers slaughtered in the ferocious fighting, it is almost inevitable that some spirits will have lingered a while longer on the battlefield. Some visitors have reportedly seen ghostly apparitions at the site’s memorial cairns. When scotsman.com visited the battlefield, it was a cold, misty day which added to the overall haunting feeling in the air. Whilst we can’t claim to have seen any concrete evidence of supernatural beings, we did hear one or two unexplained noises whilst out on the battlefield...