Haunted Locations in Scotland
Scotland – A Living (or dead?) History
Scotland is raw in its ability to remember the past. From centuries-old ruins of cathedrals and keeps; the magnificent castle seats of ancient clans with blood splattered histories; the remnants of bothies hidden in the untamed wilderness of the crofters life; to the untouched eeriness of the desolate moors with its wildling winds blowing as it always has across the centuries, making Scotland a country of bridges through history. There are parts of Scotland so untouched that the experience of being present rings hauntingly true of how it was. How can a country that has survived so much not offer up the past in every step the present takes? Tread carefully, because the past haunts the present when the past has been troubled, and Scotland has seen a lifetime of that.
St Andrews Cathedral
Situated on the edge of Fife overlooking the tumultuous North Sea, the ruins of St Andrews cathedral can only hint at the vast splendour of what was once the largest church in Scotland. One can only imagine the awe that the thousands of medieval pilgrims felt setting sight on the 11th-century house of worship. Started in 1160 the cathedral survived fires, wild and destructive weather, and the stripping of the roof in 1296 for ammunition. The cathedral fell to a protestant mob who ransacked and destroyed the interiors in an attack orchestrated by John Know during the reformation in 1559. The cathedral never recovered, falling in to decline and provided the quarry to build the town of St Andrews as we see it today. Usually bustling with tourist in the summer months, when the crowds leave and the Autumnal weather batters the coast, the wildling wind mourns eerily through the deserted ruins, mingling with the doleful cries of seabirds as they have done through the ages, we get a peek of how it was, here in the grounds of the once majestic cathedral. Present in the passing of time is St Andrews most notable apparition, found in the crumbling ruins of the desolate cathedral, amongst the scattered gravestones. Most often seen on stormy nights in October and November, The White Lady is said to wander the two-story wall-tower which stands due east of the cathedral’s east gable, gliding silently and then quietly vanishing. A benevolent presence, the sightings have never resulted in any interaction, yet the ghostly spectre caused unease. Over the last 200 years, there have been many sightings of the White Lady, and at one time local people were so fearful few dared to pass the haunted tower after nightfall to avoid an encounter with the White Lady. Whilst her precise identity is unknown, the mystery was partly resolved in 1868 when two stonemasons broke into a sealed chamber as they repaired the walls of the haunted tower and found a number of coffins. One lay open, and inside was a well-preserved body of a woman in a white dress.
Cawdor Castle dates from the late 14th century, originally built around a holly tree by the Thane of Cawdor as their private fortress. The castle has a fairy tale quality, with its majestic turrets and imposing towerhouse overlooking beautiful surrounding gardens. It has evolved over 600 years, lived in and adorned with portraits, furniture and tapestries. History is alive within the walls of this castle, and numerous visitors have reported sightings of a woman in a blue velvet dress, floating in the drawing room. Locally assumed to be Muriel Calder, she was an heiress who was kidnapped age 12 and married to Sir John Campbell, the Earl of Argyle’s son. People have also claimed to see an apparition of a handless girl, thought to be a daughter of the Earl of Calder, who confronted her after learning of her courtship with the son of the chief of an enemy clan. Filled with rage he chased her to the highest tower of the castle, where she attempted to escape through the window. As she lowered herself over the edge the Earl, in the midst of rage, severed her hands with his sword sending her plummeting to her death. Her ghost remains in the tower, an imprint of injustice where she met her untimely death at the hands of her father. View their website HERE
Once called the Windsor of the North, Loudoun Castle burnt down in 1941, leaving the ghost of the once magnificent seat of The Campbells of Loudoun. Steeped in local history and lore, the Campbells of Loudoun lay claim to Robert Bruce and William Wallace with the latter’s sword last noted as in possession at the castle. Loudoun Castle has…As like many aristocratic families, the Campbell of Loudoun castle had their own chapel and there was a monastery, with locals telling of a particularly malevolent character called the Black Monk. Along with sightings of a cloaked figure, the Black Monk’s disturbing presence was accompanied by the smell of rotting flesh and this ghostly apparition was vengeful and violent. Once when the family had gathered in the drawing-room after dinner, the foul smell of rancid flesh crept into the room and the little terriers, dosing cosily by the fire, went berserk, hackles raised and teeth bared barking at the invisible presence. Suddenly the shirt was violently ripped from the back of one of the male guests, causing the terriers to leap in his defence, locking their jaws on an invisible cossack and wrestling with an unforeseen foe, being dragged from the ground as the monk tried to shake them from his person. Abruptly, the rotting smell disappeared and the dogs fell to the floor, silent and still. When the family left the castle after the fire, the Black Monk seemed to as well, with his presence not been witnessed for 70 years.
In the heart of Angus, in the fertile lowland valley of Strathmore, lies Glamis Castle, widely renowned as one of the most haunted locations across Scotland, due to the number of paranormal sightings reported there and the folklore and intrigue around it. The most infamous ghosts of Glamis is that of Alexander Lindsay, 4th Earl of Crawford and known as Earl Beardie, A cruel and twisted man, he drank heavily and his dark and vengeful presence has been seen, heard and felt around the castle with children waking up in the night to a dark figure looming over their beds. Legend has it that he is locked in a secret room in the castle gambling with the devil for all eternity. Upon returning to his room one Sunday night, he drunkenly shouted for someone to come and play cards with him. When nobody accepted the offer, he raged he’d play the Devil himself. Shortly after a knock at the door revealed a tall gentleman in a long dark coat, asking Earl Beardie if he still wanted someone to play. Retiring to a room in the castle, he slammed the door shut, and they proceeded to play cards into the night. Swearing and shouting coming from the room could be heard reverberating throughout the castle. Allegedly, one of the servants peeked through the keyhole out of curiosity, only to be blinded in one eye by a searing beam of light shining through. The Earl, hearing the servant outside the door, accused him of spying. When he headed back to the room, the man who was believed to be the Devil had gone, taking the Earl’s soul with him. He is said to still be playing cards in a secret room in the castle, for all eternity. His shouts of rage have been reported throughout the castle to this day.
And last but not least on our haunted locations in Scotland list…On 16th April 1746, Culloden Moor, near Inverness, bore witness to one of history’s most bloody battles between government forces and Bonnie Prince Charlie’s rebel Jacobite army. The boggy ground was not suited to the highland charge and they were vastly outnumbered. Within 40 minutes of fighting the entire army of Bonnie Prince Charlie was dead, cut down by heavy artillery fire. This brief yet gruesome battle demolished the soul-sunken Jacobite army and the many Scottish clans who fought for them. Wounded survivors were hunted down and executed. The eerie and desolate moors remain today, with grave mounds scattered ominously as a reminder of the slaughter. On the anniversary of the bloody battle ghosts of fallen soldiers are said to rise again with painful cries and the clashes of swords heard echoing over the moor. Similar sightings have been made of a tall man with drawn features in tartan roaming the area, mumbling the word “defeated”. In 1936 there was a report of a woman lifting a tartan cloth covering one of the grave mounds to discover the apparition of a severely wounded Highlander underneath it. To this day it is said that birds never sing in the area surrounding these graves.
These ghostly phenomena remind us that the past cannot be forgotten if pain and injustice drag someone from the living to the untimely death. From a battle so gruesome that the fallen cant rest, to the eternal purgatory of playing cards with Satan himself, the continuation of unexplained sightings, apparitions and things that can’t be explained reminds us of the ever-present past. Tragedy and intrigue, crimes of passion and small missives, none are forgotten if the souls involved are lost in desperation. They leave traces throughout our history, imprinted on Scotland for those willing enough to look.
With Halloween coming up this is the perfect time to visit some of these if you like getting spooked. Why not read our other blog on haunted castles?
Let us know in the comments below if you have been to any of these places, or know of any other haunted locations in Scotland.