Scotland’s scariest places are set to take centre stage in a new campaign to position the country as “the home of Halloween”.
Phantom sailors, musicians, soldiers, animals and even a train are featuring in VisitScotland’s latest drive.
It also highlights reputedly haunted lighthouses, graveyards, castles, cathedrals and battlefields.
A “macabre map” of the nation has been created to showcase the ghostliest haunts ahead of this year’s Halloween festivities, although VisitScotland’s hopes the campaign will have year-round spin-offs.
Highlights include Crathes Castle, in Aberdeenshire, which is said to be haunted by the “green lady,” a servant who fell pregnant out of wedlock, the headless drummer who is said to haunt Edinburgh Castle, and a harpist of a murdered Duke of Argyll whose music has reportedly been heard at Inverary Castle.
VisitScotland hopes ghost-hunters will flock to Culzean Castle, in Ayrshire, in search of a piper who was sent into local caves to prove they were not haunted but was never seen again, and a tomb in Greyfriars Kirkyard, in Edinburgh, where Sir George Mackenzie, a 17th century Lord Advocate who led the persecution of the Covenanters is buried.
The woods around Rosslyn Castle, in Midlothian, are said be haunted by the spirit of a “war hound” slain at the Battle of Roslin in 1303, while the A75 road between Stranraer and Gretna in Dumfries and Galloway is being promoted as Scotland’s most haunted road, thanks to sightings of everything from screaming hags to ghostly horse and carriages.
Other haunted highlights include St Andrews Cathedral, which is said to be home to the ghost of a friendly monk, Moray, in Speyside, where the ghostly apparition of a train on the site of a long-gone line is said to date back to an incident in which a service filled with cattle caught fire - killing all on board.
Sandwood Bay, at Kinlochbervie, in Sutherland, is reputed to be haunted by the ghosts of doomed sailors, who were shipwrecked long before a lighthouse was built at Cape Wrath in 1828.
VisitScotland’s website highlights that Halloween’s origins are thought to date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhuinn, which is still marked in Edinburgh, which is being relocated from the Royal Mile to Calton Hill this year due to its growing popularity. It points out that Robert Burns’ 1785 poem Halloween details many of the customs and legends of the celebrations.
VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead said: “Scotland is the place to be at Halloween with our atmospheric landscape, creepy castles, haunted historic houses, superstitions and bloody history.
“This time of year brings a huge tourism potential. But ghosts are not just for Halloween – spirits are said to haunt these locations year-round so it is important for us to extend these festivities from one night only and capitalise on the public’s fascination with things that go bump in the night.”
National Trust for Scotland director Mark Bishop added: “Scotland’s history and heritage provides plenty of stories that make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and we know that visitors love hearing about the darker side.
“Our Halloween events are inspired by the stories of the places we protect and are all the more powerful for that.”