Scotland’s specters: Haunted castles, part 1

Balgonie Castle in Fife is said to be the home of 'Green Jeannie'. Picture: Robert Perry
Balgonie Castle in Fife is said to be the home of 'Green Jeannie'. Picture: Robert Perry
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Scotland is famous the world over for its castles - the fortified homes of the great (but not necessarily good) of times gone by - and each one of them has at least one ghostly story to tell.

Here we begin a new series on these old castles and the mysterious ghosts which reportedly frequent them.

Abergeldie Castle

The 16th century Abergeldie Castle, which stands barely two miles from the royal family’s country home at Balmoral, has had its fair share of visiting guests over the years. But it also has an extra, uninvited ‘guest’, known as French Kate or Kitty Rankie. She was apparently a French woman who was employed in the castle at one time and was suspected of witchcraft. After being confined in the castle she was taken to a nearby hill and burned at the stake. So it’s perhaps no surprise that her angry spirit returned to the castle after her death.

Balgonie Castle

Balgonie Castle in Fife is open to the public again after falling into disrepair in the 18th and 19th centuries. The ghost for which the castle is most famous, Green Jeannie, has been seen by the laird, members of his family, and visitors. She usually makes an appearance at night, in a particular part of the castle. As well as Jeannie, there have been reports of strange noises and shadowy figures at Balgonie.

Ballindalloch Castle

This Banffshire castle has not one but four well documented apparitions. In the Pink Room, a bedroom, several visitors have reported a beautiful lady dressed in crinoline; she is a benign presence who means no harm. The Green Lady, meanwhile, is a mystery figure but has been seen on more than one occasion in the dining room. There is also a male ghost who is thought to be General James Grant of the American Wars of Independence, who died in 1806 and is buried close to the estate. The fourth ghost is a sad young woman who fell passionately in love, only to be rejected. She used to be seen crossing the old Bridge of Avon on her way to post another letter to her beloved.

Barcaldine Castle

Situated near Loch Creran in Argyll, Barcaldine Castle is haunted by a pair of Campbell brothers. In the 18th century the laird of Barcaldine was Donald Campbell, who had been involved in a bitter feud with Stewart of Appin. Stewart killed Campbell with his sword and then sought refuge at the home of the victim’s brother Duncan, who had not heard about the murder. Duncan was haunted by visions of his brother, but by the time he realised what they meant, Stewart was gone.

Bedlay Castle

This castle dates from the 12th century and was first built as a palace for the Bishops of Glasgow. One day, around the year 1350, a certain Bishop Cameron was found dead, face down in the waters of a nearby loch. His ghost caused considerable torment to the castle’s inhabitants for centuries to come, and there was even reported to have been an unsuccessful attempt at an exorcism in the 18th century. There have been reports of the Bishop’s large figure appearing spontaneously, and the sound of him pacing relentlessly in neighbouring rooms.

Have you seen a ghost in a Scottish castle? Share your story in the comments section.