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Top 5 Haunted Castles to Visit in Scotland

Edinburgh Castle by Ad Meskens, Wikimedia Commons

Scotland is world famous for its scenic beauty and magnificent castles. However, it is also a bonanza for individuals interested in the occult. In fact, when it comes to locations inhabited by ghosts/vampires, you’ll find yourself presented with a plethora of spooky choices. We take a look at some of the best haunts to visit.

Ethie Castle

The history of Ethie Castle goes as far back as 1300. In the year 1665, the castle was purchased by the Carnegie clan who subsequently assumed the title of the Earls of Northesk. They relinquished the ownership only in 1928. Recently, the castle has undergone meticulous restoration.  It is a magnificent piece of architecture indeed and is a site to behold.

How did the castle come to be haunted? Cardinal David Beaton, an abbot at the castle’s nearby abbey, was a politician who was a member of the Scottish parliament. He died in 1548. Blamed for a war with England, fallen from reputability, conspired against, imprisoned, murdered, and hung from a castle window, Cardinal Beaton did not leave the world quietly by all popular accounts.  His ghost has been sighted at the castle repeatedly. Over the years, visitors have encountered his tortured spectre at a narrow staircase that proceeds to a secret path in his bedroom. Very often a dragging sound and the inexplicable noise of footsteps have been reported.

For the brave heart, Ethie castle itself offers bed and breakfast accommodation.  Couples with predilections for the paranormal can also host weddings here (make sure you reserve a seat for one extra guest).  Excellent and scalable catering amenities are available.  For reservations and wedding arrangements, one can contact the castle directly at office@ethiecastle.com or by phone, 01241-830434.  Ethie Castle, Inverkeilor, By Arbroath, Angus, DD11 5SP

 

Glamis Castle by Baryonic Being, Wikimedia Commons
Glamis Castle by Baryonic Being, Wikimedia Commons

Glamis Castle

In the year 1372, the thaneage of Glamis was bestowed to Sir John Lyon by King Robert II of Scotland. It is said that Glamis was originally a royal hunting lodge. The castle itself began to take shape in the first part of the 15th century.  Extensive restoration in the 17th as well as 18th centuries, caused the castle to resemble a French Chateau, more than a medieval fort.

Legend has it that King Malcolm II was assassinated in the castle in the 11th century. Rumours abound of a secret room where a nobleman, Earl Beardie, indulged in card games with none other than the devil, and upon losing his soul to the devil, he is doomed to play cards forever. Additionally, Lord Glamis’s widow, Lady Janet Douglas, was branded as a witch and burned at the stake in 1540.  Her ghost still utilizes her reserved seat in the front of the family chapel, so no one dares to sit there.

Its VIP tours are the speciality of this haunted castle. You can get a private guided tour to the private apartments of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, from whom Glamis Castle is her childhood home, as well as tours of the castle’s State rooms. A knowledgeable guide will enthral you with the castle’s very own ghost stories, legends, myths and history.

While private tours are available all through the year, you should book your tour early as tickets go fast.  Unfortunately for winter travellers, Glamis Castle is closed, but it will reopen in April.  While the admission fee for a single adult for a guided castle and grounds tour is currently £11.00 (roughly $14), there are discounted prices for seniors, children, and families. For further details, visit the castle’s website at http://www.glamis-castle.co.uk/index.cfm.  For specific questions, you can call 01307-840393 or send an email to enquiries@glamis-castle.co.uk.  Glamis Castle, Angus, DD8 1RJ

 

Fyvie Castle in Early Winter by Martyn Gorman, Wikimedia Commons
Fyvie Castle in Early Winter by Martyn Gorman, Wikimedia Commons

Fyvie Castle

The castle was constructed in 1211 and was a royal stronghold, until the Battle of Otterburn in 1390. Since then, different non-royal families have owned it at various times.  Ultimately, the descendants of the last Baron of Fyvie, Alexander Leith sold the castle to the National Trust, which has owned it for the last three decades. There is a plethora of famous portraits in the castle, such as Edward I and Charles I, as well as exhibits of real armour and weapons.

Like any castle that worth its preternatural salt, Fyvie Castle is also known for its supernatural sightings. The Grey Lady, the Green Lady, and the Phantom Trumpeter, as well as two curses haunt this castle. The Grey Lady is the ghost of Lady Meldrum, who asked that her final resting place be within the walls of an undisclosed bedroom in a tower of the castle.  Her remains were discovered in the early 20th century and laid to rest in the grounds’ cemetery.  Shortly afterward, her ghost began haunting the castle.  The then current baron of the castle understood that he had offended Lady Meldrum by ignoring her wishes, so he exhumed her remains and placed her back in the walls of that bedroom, but it was too late.  The Grey Lady continues to plague the visitors and residents of Fyvie Castle.

The Green Lady is thought to be the ghost of Dame Lillias Drummond. Unable to bear a male child, her husband, Sir Alexander Seton betrayed her with her cousin, Grizel Leslie.  Dame Drummond died after a bout with illness and began haunting her husband as well as his new wife, Grizel.  To this day, her ghostly inscription in stone at the window of his bedroom still stands, and the scent of roses fills the air as her ghost passes you.

The Phantom Trumpeter is believed to be the ghost of Andrew Lammie, a trumpeter at the castle during the 18th century.  Andrew and the miller’s daughter, Agnes Smith, were in love, but the castle owner (the laird) at the time wanted her for himself, so he shipped Andrew off to the West Indies.  Unbeknownst to Andrew, Agnes died soon after.  Many years after his voyage to the West Indies, he escaped and made his way back to Scotland.  Upon learning of Agnes’ death, Andrew’s heart broke, he cursed the castle, and swore that just before any laird died, the sound of a trumpet would ring throughout the castle.  He died soon afterward and true to his word, just before subsequent lairds died, the sound of a trumpet was heard by all.  Though there aren’t any individual lairds anymore as the National Trust owns the castle, the tall form of the Phantom Trumpeter, dressed in fine tartan, still haunts the castle.

You can visit the Grey Lady, the Green Lady, and the Phantom Trumpeter all throughout the year, as Fyvie Castle is open on a daily basis. If you wish to stay overnight at the castle, you need to contact the Holidays Department by phone at +44 (0) 131 458 0305 (open Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm) or by emailing holidays@nts.org.uk.  Rooms go quickly as the Preston Tower can only accommodate 14 guests at any given time.  For further details, go to www.nts.org.uk/Property/Fyvie-Castle.  Fyvie Castle, Fyvie near Turriff, Aberdeen & Grampian, AB53 8JS, main telephone #: 01651-891266

Edinburgh Castle by David Monniaux, Wikimedia Commons
Edinburgh Castle by David Monniaux, Wikimedia Commons

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle served as a defensive fort during the Iron Age, 1200 BC to 600 BC, and until the 18th century, it was the most attacked castle in the world with 26 sieges in its 1100-year history.  Its initial name was Din Eidyn which was changed to Edinburgh. In 1296, it was captured by Edward I of the Scots. After the 18th Century, it ceased to be attacked and has remained an historical landmark for the people of Scotland, housing some of the most important Scottish regalia.

Many folks have reported apparitions and shadowy figures at Edinburgh castle.  Since most of the specters have been seen in the dungeons, it is believed that most of the ghosts are of tortured prisoners. Some visitors have experienced being pulled and touched by nothing visible, defying explanation. There have also been claims of sudden temperature drops, mists, green radiance, and glowing orbs.  Others have heard bagpipe music emanating from the Royal Mile, which is a web of pipes under the castle and its streets. Rumor has it that, centuries ago, these tunnels were discovered and a piper was sent to map out the tunnels.  Unfortunately, for reasons unknown, the piper disappeared and neither he nor his body were ever found.  Only his pipe music can be heard throughout the castle, accompanied, of course, by the drumming of a headless apparition of a boy.

Guided tours of Edinburgh Castle occur all throughout the day. The castle opens every day at 9.30 AM, and closing time is 6:00 PM in the summer season from April 1st to September 30th, and during the winter season from October 1st to March 31st, closing time is 5:00 PM. The castle is closed on December 25th and 26th. For further information, one can visit Edinburgh Castle’s website at http://www.edinburghcastle.gov.uk/. Edinburgh Castle, Castlehill, Edinburgh, EH1 2NG, main telephone #: +44 (0)131 225 9846

Eilean Donan at Dusk by Syxaxis Photography, Wikimedia Commons
Eilean Donan at Dusk by Syxaxis Photography, Wikimedia Commons

Eilean Donan Castle

The Eilean Donan Castle, which dates to the 7th century, was named after the 6th century Irish saint, Bishop Eilean Donan, who organized a settlement in the area. It has been featured in several films, notably the “Highlander” starring Sean Connery and “The World Is Not Enough”, one of the 007, James Bond films. While the castle was in ruins for over two centuries because it was a stronghold during the Jacobite revolution and subject to several sieges, in 1911, Lt. Colonel John Macrae-Gilstrap purchased it and sought to restore the castle to its prior form. He rebuilt the castle over the next two decades, with the intention of restoring the castle to the same appearance that it had in the 17th and early 18th centuries. The renovations were finally finished in 1932.

Why does Eilean Donan Castle have the reputation of being the most haunted castle in Scotland? Read on.  Vlad the Impaler wasn’t the only one to display “piked” heads.  Randolph, the Earl of Moray did exactly the same thing at Eilean Donan Castle in 1331 with 50 men.  The ghost of a “Lady Mary” has been sighted frequently in one of the bedrooms of the castle.  Additionally, during the Jacobite rebellion, forty-six Spanish soldiers in the castle were attacked and killed. It is believed that the castle hosts a ghost of one of the soldiers who was killed that day.

While one should probably avoid the busiest months (July, August, and September), Eilean Donan Castle is open for visiting every day from February 1st to March 24th from 10 AM to 5 PM.  From March 25th to October 29th, it is open from 10 AM to 6 PM.  Finally, from October 31st to December 30th, the castle is open from 10 AM to 4 PM. The castle is closed on Christmas day and Boxing day.  Specifically, in 2017, the castle is closed on the 11th, 14th, 17th, 18th & 25th of February. For further information, one can contact the castle directly at info@eileandonancastle.com. Eilean Donan Castle, Dornie by Kyle of Lochalsh, IV40 8DX, Scotland, main telephone #: 01599-555202.

Michele W.
Michele W.

Michele is a professional writer, editor, and visual artist. She is an avid traveler, who loves sharing tips and tricks to maximize one’s travel experience. She’s a quirky, imaginative individual with a heart of really good chicken soup.

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