Scotland’s spectres: Haunted castles, part 2

Braemar Castle, said to be haunted by the ghost of a tragic bride
Braemar Castle, said to be haunted by the ghost of a tragic bride
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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.

In the second part of our series on haunted castles, we look at five castles in Scotland with their fair share of ghostly goings-on.

Braemar Castle

The castle at Braemar has been leased to the local community since 2006, but is owned by the chief of the Farquharson Clan. During its long history it has served as a hunting lodge, military garrison and family home.

The ghost that haunts Braemar Castle is said to be a young woman who lost her life through a tragic misunderstanding, over two hundred years ago, with her new husband. Women were, at the time, virgins until marriage, and the wedding night was, perhaps understandably, treated with a certain level of apprehension and in some cases, fear. It is said that this particular young woman woke early on the morning after her wedding night to find that her husband was nowhere to be seen. Becoming distressed and then ashamed as she came to the conclusion that her husband had found her to be an unsatisfactory lover, she jumped to her death from the window of the bridal room. The bridegroom had in fact been on an early-morning hunting trip, and returned to the castle to be met with news of his wife’s death. These days, the young woman’s ghost returns to the castle whenever newlyweds are staying there.

Brodie Castle

The seat of the Brodie family for hundreds of years, Brodie Castle experienced paranormal activity on a September night in 1889. The castle had been rented out, with the then Earl of Brodie abroad in Switzerland, with the servants remaining in the castle. The butler heard strange noises coming from the Earl’s study; moaning, and what sounded like papers being rustled or pages being turned. The other servants reported hearing the same, despite the study having been locked when the Earl had left for Switzerland and instructions left that no-one be allowed to enter the room in his absence. The servants searched for a key, thinking there might be an intruder in the castle, but couldn’t find one.

News that the Earl had died the previous night in Switzerland reached the castle the following day, with the assumption that the strange noises heard in the study had been the ghost of the Earl, who had returned to his study after his death, perhaps to deal with some outstanding business.

The Castle of Mey

Situated a few miles from John O’Groats in the far north of Scotland, the Castle of Mey was for many years the Highland home of the Queen Mother. The castle is home to a Green Lady who haunts a room at the top of the old tower, said to be the ghost of Elizabeth Sinclair, daughter of George, the fifth Earl of Caithness. After falling in love with a local farmhand, deemed a most unsuitable partner for a young lady of Elizabeth’s status, she was confined to the tower as her father sought to put an end to the relationship. Elizabeth is said to have died when she leaned out of the tower window to catch a glimpse of her love working in the fields in the distance, lost her balance and fell to her death.

There are still Sinclairs who live in the surrounding area, possible descendants of George and Elizabeth.

Claypotts Castle

The White Lady of Claypotts Castle is a more unusual tale of the paranormal. The castle was built at the end of the 16th century by John Strachan and his son Gilbert, and has passed through various ownerships throughout history. A White Lady appears at an upstairs window on 29th May each year, appearing to be very distressed and waving a handkerchief. She is said to be the ghost of Marion Ogilvy, daughter of the first Lord of Airlie, who was in love with Cardinal Beaton of St Andrews. She used to wait at the window for him to arrive and wave a handkerchief as a signal. On May 29th 1546, she waited in vain, as the Cardinal lay murdered in St Andrews Castle. On the anniversary of his death, she resumes her vigil - but here’s the strange part. Claypotts Castle in its present form, and the window from which the White Lady waves, wasn’t built until well after 1546. Marion Ogilvy, who is believed to be the White Lady, never lived at the Castle - she lived at Melgund Castle - and Cardinal Beaton is not known to have had anything to do with Claypotts Castle either. If he ever visited, there is no record of this taling place. So who is the White Lady and what’s the real story?

Comlongon Castle

Another Green Lady haunts the Dumfriesshire castle of Comlongon, said to be the ghost of Marion Caruthers. In the late 16th century, she was coerced into marrying a man she didn’t love, and fled to Comlongon Castle to take refuge in the home of her uncle. Not much is known about Marion Caruthers, but it looks like she eventually despaired of the whole sorry situation and threw herself to her death from the castle’s tower.

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