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Dare you uncover Scotland’s haunted places, where ghouls still lurk and legends abound?
There are centuries-old ruins of cathedrals and keeps, magnificent castle seats of ancient clans with blood-splattered histories and remnants of bothies hidden in the untamed wilderness of Scotland.
Parts of this ancient country are so untouched that simply by stepping foot on the grounds, you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported back in time. How can a country that has survived so much not be home to a few restless spirits?
Tread carefully, the past haunts many corners of this beautiful country and you never know what you might come across while investigating the haunted places of Scotland. Join our tour ... if you dare.
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.
First built in 1160, the cathedral survived fires, wild and destructive weather, as well as the stripping of the roof in 1296 for ammunition. When 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, it never recovered, fell into decline and provided the quarry to build the town of St Andrews as we see it today.
It’s usually bustling with tourists in the summer months, but when the crowds leave and the autumnal weather batters the coast, the wild wind mourns eerily through the deserted ruins and mingles with the doleful cries of seabirds.
Most often seen on stormy nights in October and November, The White Lady is said to wander the two-storey 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 that few dared to pass the haunted tower after nightfall in case of an encounter.
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.
Discover the secrets of St Andrews Cathedral when you stay nearby at one of our holiday cottages in Fife.
2. The girl who fell from the tower at Cawdor Castle
Cawdor Castle dates from the late 14th century and was 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 tower house overlooking beautiful surrounding gardens. It has evolved over 600 years, having been 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. She is locally assumed to be Muriel Calder, an heiress who was kidnapped aged 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.
Investigate Cawdor Castle during a holiday nearby; begin by browsing our lodges and cottages in Nairn.
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.
As with 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.
This ghostly apparition was vengeful and violent; along with sightings of a cloaked figure, the Black Monk’s disturbing presence is accompanied by the smell of rotting flesh.
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 who had been 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 to his defence; they were 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. When the family left the castle after the fire, the Black Monk seemed to as well, with his presence having not been witnessed for 70 years.
Peruse our collection of holiday cottages, castles and lodges in Ayrshire and find your perfect retreat.
4. The never-ending card game at Glamis Castle
In the heart of Angus, in the 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 that surrounds it.
The most infamous ghost of Glamis is that of Alexander Lindsay, 4th Earl of Crawford, also 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.
Upon returning to his room one night, the Earl 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 from the room could be heard reverberating throughout the castle.
One of the servants allegedly peeked through the keyhole out of curiosity, only to be blinded in one eye by a searing beam of light. The man, who was believed to be the Devil, left later that night and took the Earl’s soul with him.
It is said that the Earl is still playing cards in a secret room in the castle and will be trapped there for all eternity. His shouts of rage have been reported throughout the castle to this day.
Explore our collection of escapes near Glamis Castle and find a holiday home, castle or cottage in Angus.
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 of Scottish clansmen.
Prince Charles’ army was vastly outnumbered and the boggy ground was not suited to their highland charge; they were defeated within 40 minutes of fighting, cut down by heavy artillery fire. This brief yet gruesome battle demolished the Jacobite army and the many Scottish clans who fought for them with the wounded survivors being 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 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.
Stay in a holiday cottage in Inverness and take a trip to visit Culloden Moor during your autumn break.
The most haunted places in Scotland
From a battle so gruesome that the fallen cannot rest, to the eternal purgatory of playing cards with Satan himself, the darkest corners of Scotland hide all kinds of ghouls and spirits from ages past.
Discover tragedy and intrigue, crimes of passion and mysterious circumstances which leave lost souls wandering Scotland’s landscape for eternity. The past leaves traces imprinted on Scotland for those ready and willing to look.
What would you do if you came face-to-face to an apparition? Halloween is the perfect time to visit some of these haunted locations - take a look through our full collection of holiday cottages, lodges and castles in Scotland and find your ideal getaway for Halloween.
Who knows, you might find yourself staying in your own haunted castle…