The Haunted Castles of Scotland

02 Nov 2023
Scotland is a country full of mystery and wonder, it has a reputation for myths and legends. Many tales of folklore have been passed down over the centuries and ghost stories are particularly popular. There have been sightings that have even convinced the most sceptical of unbelievers.

It is quite common in Scotland to come across “ a green lady or gentleman ghost”. It is said that the colour green is associated with the paranormal and supernatural, so it is unlikely to come across a “purple” ghost in Scotland, they quite often tend to be green. Let us take you on a tour of Scotland's most haunted castles...if you dare ;-)

This article is brought to you by Katarina (aka Travel Kat). Your personal tour guide for everything Scottish!
Eilean Donan Castle, Dornie, Scotland © George Hiles / Unsplash

Ballindalloch Castle, Moray

Ballindalloch Castle has quite the reputation for ghosts. The Castle has been inhabited since the mid 16th century and the Macpherson-Grant family continue to live in the castle to this day. The castle is also open to members of the public for a few months of the year, there have been reports of ghost sightings from members of the public and the family who reside there.

Claims have been made that a beautiful lady dressed in a crinoline outfit ( in other words a large poofy dress of the era) in one of the bedrooms of the castle known as The Pink Tower. People who have seen this ghostly lady say that she has a kind presence and gives the impression that she means no harm.

There have also been reports of a male ghost at the castle. It is thought to be the ghost of General James Grant of the American Wars of Independence, a member of the household, who died in 1806 and was buried near the estate. It is said that every night he returns to the castle riding a beautiful white horse, his ghost also walks freely around the castle frequently making the journey from the foot of one of the towers down to the wine cellar, which was once the castle dungeons.

Castle information:
Website: https://www.ballindallochcastle.co.uk/
The Castle is in the Speyside region and is approximately 100 km (65 miles) west from Aberdeen.
Entrance fees: Entrance to castle grounds is £6.00.
Open during the summer months only.

Castle of Mey, Sutherland

Castle of Mey 

Situated in the very north of Scotland (a great stop if you are driving the scenic NC500 route) is the Castle of Mey. It was previously owned by The Queen Mother and used as her holiday home and is now in the care of the Castle of Mey Trust.
It has been alleged that the castle is haunted by a green Lady ghost called Elizabeth Sinclair who appears in one of the rooms at the top of the tower. During the mid 1600’s Elizabeth, the daughter of the 5th Earl of Caithness fell in love with a local farmworker. Her father disagreed with the romance and regarded the boy as an undesirable suitor for his daughter. He sought to put an end to their relationship, despite his daughter's anguish. He had Elizabeth confined to the high tower until she saw sense, however when the girl leaned out of the tower window to try and catch a glimpse of her lover, she lost her balance and fell to her death. It has been rumoured however that perhaps Elizabeth deliberately threw herself from the tower, and it is her sad ghost that haunts the castle.

Castle Information:
Website: https://www.castleofmey.org.uk/
The Castle is 22 km (14 miles) from Thurso and 10 km (6 miles) from John O’ Groats.
Due to Covid-19 the castle is closed until 2021

Crathes Castle, Aberdeenshire

Crathes Castle is a 16th century castle near Banchory set in the rolling hills of Aberdeenshire. The castle was built by the Burnett family who lived there for over 350 years, the building is an intricate maze of turrets and towers.
In the oldest part of the castle, in a room known as the “Green Lady’s Room” there is said to be the spirit of a young lady, wearing a green dress, who can be seen standing next to the fireplace. In her arms she is cradling a small baby. During the 1800’s when the castle underwent renovation works, bones of a child were discovered underneath the hearthstone of the fireplace.
Theories have included that the bones were that of a servant who had been impregnated by a member of the Burnett family, possibly in the mid-1600s, with both mother and child both killed to save the family reputation.
The Castle is now open to the public and the castle tour guides have reported strange happenings such as having a chill down their back in an otherwise warm room, and hearing odd noises coming from an empty castle.

Castle information:
Website: https://www.nts.org.uk/visit/places/crathes-castle
Crathes Castle is 24 km (15 miles) west of Aberdeen and approximately 5km (3 miles) east from Banchory.
The Castle and Gardens are open throughout the year. The Castle also has a cafe and adventure play park.
Entrance fees: £14.50 (adult)

Edinburgh Castle, Midlothian

One of the most famous castles in the world - Edinburgh Castle is said to be home to some very peculiar happenings. The Castle has dominated Edinburgh’s skyline since the 1300’s and of the most well known haunted tales is about a headless drummer boy.
No one can determine who the boy was or why he became headless, but many visitors in the past have claimed to see his ghost or at least heard him drumming. During quiet times of the day, the unmistakable ‘rat-a-tat-tat’ sound of drums can be heard coming from the battlements.
Traditionally the drummer has been seen as a bad omen, he appears to foretell imminent disaster for the castle. Although in more recent times the boy drummer hasn’t been seen, surely the year 2020 would be a good time to show up.
Legend has it that whenever the drummer boy’s ghost is spotted, the castle is about to come under attack – he was first seen in 1650, shortly before Oliver Cromwell attacked Edinburgh Castle.

Castle information:
Website: https://www.edinburghcastle.scot/plan-your-visit/tickets
The Castle is situated in the Old Town area of Edinburgh and is open all year round. During the month of August The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo also put on a show on the castle esplanade.
Tickets must be pre-booked online.
Entrance fee: £15.50 (Adult).

Glamis Castle, Angus

Set in the Strathmore valley, Glamis Castle (pronounced ‘Glahms’) has been home to the Lyon’s family since the 14th century. In more recent times the castle was the childhood home of the Queen Mother and  Princess Margaret was born here. Glamis Castle is regarded as one of the most haunted castles in all of Scotland with many ghostly dark tales, up to 9 different ghosts have been reported.

One of the most harrowing is the Monster of Glamis. In 1821, Lord Glamis and his wife welcomed the birth of a son and heir, Thomas. Soon after his birth their son tragically died. However, rumours soon spread that the boy was in fact alive but hideously deformed and to spare the family from disgrace, was being raised in a secret chamber below Glamis Castle. An apparent lack of gravestone for the boy probably supported the suspicions surrounding his fate, especially in the nearby village.

Furthermore, a story dating back to about 1865 says that workmen at the castle unexpectedly came upon a door that opened into a long passage near the Chapel. One ventured in, and the man saw “something similar to a human toad” at the far end of the corridor, and—on reporting his sighting to Lord Glamis —was pressingly encouraged to emigrate to Australia, his passage paid by the anxious Earl.

Visually the heir Thomas was described as having no neck, and a barrel-shaped torso with tiny limbs covered completely in hair. The Monster of Glamis was kept in the castle all his life and his suite of rooms bricked up after his death. There have been tales of strange shadows seen on battlements at night, some believe it to be the ghost of The Monster of Glamis.  Another haunting story is that of the Tongueless Woman, a servicemaid who stumbled upon the terrible secret.

Horrified, she threatened to expose it. The Earl ordered the guards to cut out her tongue. She broke free from her assailants and tried to escape through the grounds, but they caught and killed her. This horrific apparition has apparently been seen wandering around the grounds pointing to her badly wounded face, blood spilling from her mouth on the lawns of Glamis Castle. If you are brave enough to visit, you can find details below.

Castle information:
Website: https://www.glamis-castle.co.uk/
Glamis Castle is 20 km (12 miles) from Dundee and 5km (3 miles) from Forfar.
The Castle will reopen in March, 2021 - all tickets must be pre-booked.
Entrance fees: £15.50 for Castle, ground and garden. (Adult)

This article is brought to you by Katarina (aka Travel Kat). Your personal tour guide for everything Scottish!


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