Haunted Dornoch Castle on sale for £2.25m

Dornoch Castle Hotel is on the market. Picture: HeMedia
Dornoch Castle Hotel is on the market. Picture: HeMedia
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A HISTORIC “haunted” Highland castle built in the 15th century has gone on the market for £2.25 million.

Dornoch Castle, which has had only three owners since being converted into a hotel in 1947, is said to be haunted by the ghost of Sutherland sheep rustler.

Picture: HeMedia

Picture: HeMedia

Built for the Bishop of Sutherland, it has served as a private residence, a school, a jail and courthouse, and now a 25-bedroom hotel.

Located opposite the 12th-century Dornoch Cathedral, where Madonna and Guy Ritchie had their son christened in 2000, the hotel owners also promote its close proximity to famous golf courses, particularly in the year the Ryder Cup comes to Scotland, and whisky distilleries.

But it is best known for being haunted by a thief called Andrew McCornish, imprisoned in its dungeons and then killed for stealing ewes and rams from nearby estates.

Marion Mackenzie, the daughter of his jailer, the Sheriff Substitute of Sutherland, was the first person to see Andrew’s ghost at the close of the 19th century.

Picture: HeMedia

Picture: HeMedia

She claimed to see the grey-haired man with a “weird face”, thick grey stockings and knee breeches sitting in her father’s study when she came in from the garden to get some honey comb for tea one day. After running for help from her family, they returned to an empty room.

But Andrew’s ghost reappeared later that night next to the bed of Marion’s uncle, the minister of Avoch, while he was sleeping.

Marion’s uncle woke up and told the ghost that if he did not go away he would call his brother, the sheriff. The ghost swiftly departed the room and never visited again.

After listening to his brother and daughter’s description of the ghost, Sheriff Mackenzie recognised it as Andrew. Despite Andrew’s disappearance, the castle’s new owner in 1922 took no chances and had the building exorcised before moving in.

The property was renamed Dornoch Castle Hotel in 1947 and, regardless of its lack of ghostly sightings over the last century, it was featured on a programme about haunted hotels on the American Travel Channel in 2003.

Since then, the building has led a quiet existence and is now on the market for just the fourth time in more than 60 years.

Euan MacCrimmond, of selling agents Strutt and Parker, said the current owners, Colin and Ros Thompson, were selling the property as they were preparing to retire from business.

He added: “Dornoch Castle Hotel is a quite stunning building, full of atmosphere and history, yet it also has all the luxuries one could expect from modern life.”


Travel: Dornoch Castle Hotel, Dornoch