The Scottish castle haunted by two halves of a butchered wife
As Scottish ghost stories in Scotland go, the haunting of Meggernie Castle in Perthshire is perhaps among the most chilling.
The castle stands deep in beautiful Glen Lyon, around 13 miles from Fortingall with the tower house built around 1585 by by ‘Mad’ Colin Campbell who held the Countess of Errol captive within its walls as he tried to to force her to marry him. The same tower was later to play a central role in a further dark chapter of the Meggernie story.
The castle later came into the possession of the Menzies of Culdares with the laird tormented by his beautiful wife, a woman much younger and utterly compelling.
Martin Coventry, of Cockenzie-based Goblinshead Publishing, wrote : “Although there were no tales of infidelity, Menzies was unable to trust his wife and his jealousy grew to such an extent that he was unable to believe anything she did or said. Actions were interpreted as suspicious until finally he snapped and attacked and murdered the poor woman.”
Menzies cut the corpse in two and hid his wife’s remain the tower with the laird then concocting a story that she had taken a long trip to the Continent to see her relatives. Later, after himself disappearing, he announced his wife had drowned.
Over several months, the woman’s butchered corpse lay decomposing with the laird returning to dispose of his wife’s remains, with her bottom half buried in the graveyard. The laird died , in unexplained circumstances, before being able to move his wife’s upper body.
Coventry wrote: "According to legend, it was from that point that strange manifestations began to be recorded, and that the apparition had two parts: the top half of a woman in the upper rooms in the tower and the lower half, wearing a blood-splattered dress, seen on the ground floor, outside in the castle grounds, or in the graveyard.”
Letters cited by Coventry highlight the terrors felt at the castle, which went on to become a classic destination for those indulging in the Victorian fashion for hunting, shooting and high-end socialising in Scotland. Ghost stories were also popular at the time.
One letter was written on January 7 1882 by the Reverend E.J Simmons following a visit to Meggernie with his friend, Beaumont Featherstone.
Simmons reported that he was woken in the early hours of the morning by a ‘hot and painful’ kiss with an apparition appearing to pass through the door to his friend’s adjoining room.
Coventry wrote: “He then checked his cheek, expecting to find it blistered from the hot kiss, but there was no mark, although it ached as if it was burnt.”
In the morning, Featherstone reported that he saw an apparition with a “look of despair” on a beautiful face, which he saw again looking through a castle window 10 days later. Over the decades, the story of the haunting of Meggernie has failed to fade with further accounts of sightings of a ghostly woman cut in two.