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 crofts hidden in the untamed wilderness of Scotland.
Parts of this ancient country are so remote and unspoiled that by simply stepping foot there, 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 a corner of this beautiful country and you never know what you might come across while investigating the haunted places of Scotland; read on if you dare. We can't guarantee that you'll see any ghosts or witness any paranormal activity, but we can help out with somewhere to stay on your hair-raising trip to Scotland. Browse our collection of holiday accommodation to find a suitable refuge from all the ghosts, vampires and poltergeists by clicking on the button below.
Scotland's most haunted places
The spectral soldiers of Culloden Moor, Inverness
On 16 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. Bonny Prince Charlie’s 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.
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 the graves.
Good to know
- Where is Culloden Moor?: Culloden Moor, near Inverness, IV2 5EU
- Can I visit Culloden Moor?: Yes, Culloden Moor is open to the public. Opening times vary throughout the seasons, visit the website for details.
- How much does it cost to visit Culloden Moor?: Adults £14, Family ticket £30 | For more information, visit the website.
- What facilities does Culloden Moor have?: Parking, WCs, cafe, audio tour, some wheelchair access, dogs on leads welcome in outdoor areas (please be aware of grazing cattle), there is a designated off-the-lead area behind the cafe.
- Stay nearby: Tangle Tower | sleeps 4
The Witches of Culross, Fife
With its tales of tortured witches and money-hoarding phantoms, the 17th-century village of Culross is high on atmosphere. These days, Culross is a living open-air museum, and you can visit the Town House which had a jail where the Culross Witches were imprisoned and tortured for all their days. The witch trials in West Fife were particularly brutal; these days there is a Witches Trail that runs through villages like Culross, Valleyfield, and Torryburn.
Like something from the Saw films, petty criminals were corrected by getting pinned to the town stocks at the Mercat Cross by the ears, and they were the lucky ones. Others got branded with the S-shaped courtroom key! If you are looking for ghosts, then you may encounter the apparition of Sir George Bruce of Carnock (1550-1625) at Culross Palace. Legend has it that he can be seen in the palace vault counting his money, where he warns anybody who gets too close to him to stay away from his fortune.
Another ghost is that of Mary Erskine (1800s), who wanders about the garden taking in the fragrances of flowers as she carries a bunch of cut lavender. If you are planning a holiday to Fife, why not read our interesting blog?
Good to know
- Where is Culross?: Culross, Fife, KY12 8HN
- Can I visit Culross: Yes, it is open to the public daily between 10am and 4pm (palace and gardens).
- How much does it cost to visit Culross?: Palace and Garden – Adult £10.50, Family ticket £24.50 | Town tour – £5.50 | For more information, visit the website.
- What facilities does Culross have?: Parking, WCs, some wheelchair access, baby changing, hot drinks, guided and self-guided tours
- Stay nearby: The Garden House | sleeps 2 + 1 dog
The White Lady of St Andrews Cathedral, St Andrews
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. St Andrews Cathedral is 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.
The phantom of the White Lady is said to wander about the two-storey wall tower which stands due east of the cathedral’s east gable, gliding silently before quietly vanishing. Though a benevolent presence, the sightings of the ghostly spectre have caused a sense of 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 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.
Found at the centre of St Andrews, you aren't very far from an escape route if the moody atmosphere gets the better of your imagination.
Good to know
- Where is St Andrews Cathedral?: St Andrews Cathedral, The Pends, St Andrews, Fife KY16 9QL
- Can I visit St Andrews Cathedral?: Yes, St Andrews Cathedral is open to the public. 1 April – 30 September: 9.30am – 5.30pm | 1 October – 31 March: 10am – 4pm
- How much does it cost to visit St Andrews Cathedral?: Adults £7.50, Children £4.50 | For more information, visit the website.
- What facilities does St Andrews Cathedral have?: Visitor centre, WC, some wheelchair access, dogs on leads welcome
- Stay nearby: St Andrews Seaview Cottage | sleeps 4 + 2 dogs
The haunted bedrooms of Cathedral House Hotel, Glasgow
Sometimes, it’s best to stay at a self-catering holiday cottage; their ghost stories are less documented! The Cathedral House Hotel, built in 1877, stood next to the former site of Glasgow’s notorious Duke Street Prison. That was demolished in 1958 and was the site of many executions. The building has been a hotel since the early 1990s.
The hotel’s most lively spirit is that of a woman, Susan Newell, who was executed for strangling a paperboy to death in 1923. She was the last woman to be hanged in Scotland too and she has been seen in the bedrooms fleetingly. On the top floor of the hotel, furniture has been said to move about on its own accord. Guests and staff have heard children giggling and splashing about in a bathtub, or pushing past them in the corridors. How’s that for creepy? Rooms even offer views across Glasgow Necropolis!
There are no ghost tours at the Cathedral House Hotel to our knowledge. If you wish to soak up the atmosphere, you can visit the bar and enjoy a different kind of spirit. The city is packed with interesting architecture and tales of old sailors and merchants. You could write ten books on Glasgow's ghosts alone.
Good to know
- Where is the Cathedral House Hotel?: Cathedral House Hotel, 28–32 Cathedral Square, Glasgow, G4 0XA
- Can I visit Cathedral House Hotel?: Yes. There is a public bar.
- How much does it cost to visit Cathedral House Hotel?:It's free to enter.
- Stay nearby: Stirling Cottage | sleeps 4 + 1 dog
The mysterious child-snatching vampire of Gorbals, Glasgow
The legend of the Vampire of Gorbals is one of Glasgow's best ghost stories. The story of the bloodsucker's existence was emboldened by a manhunt led by school children in 1954. Their search was for two missing boys and the prime suspect was a vampire said to live within one of the UK's largest and most interesting cemeteries. One evening after school, hundreds of kids headed out to Glasgow's Southern Necropolis; they'd armed themselves to the teeth with all the paraphernalia associated with vampire-slaying lore. Silver crucifixes, garlic, wooden stakes and much more were in the arsenal – the children even took along their family dogs as backup.
The Vampire of Gorbals was said to be a handsome fellow, about seven feet in height with iron teeth. Local adults and police couldn't quell the panic, and the hunt went on regardless of the advice against it. Fires were lit and the hunt began – wherever the posse looked, the vampire wasn't there. He seemed to be toying with them, prowling around in a soupy mist that descended on the cemetery that evening – summoning shadows and a grim atmosphere. The crime of the missing boys was merely rumour and a vampire was never brought to justice. Nothing much more is known beyond this wonderful tale.
In the north of the city, you'll find Glasgow Necropolis (pictured above) which is one of the most interesting cemeteries in the UK, alongside Highgate Cemetery in London. With its iconic mausoleums and tombs, it occupies a hill that looms over the city below; it's the Scottish Pere Lachaise.
Good to know
- Where is Southern Necropolis?: Southern Necropolis, Caledonia Road, Gorbals, Glasgow, G5 0TB
- Can I visit Southern Necropolis?: Yes, Southern Necropolis is open to the public. There is no online information about when the gates are open.
- How much does it cost to visit Southern Necropolis?: It is free to enter the Southern Necropolis.
- What facilities does Southern Necropolis have?: There are no facilities at the cemetery, although you can book a tour.
- Stay nearby: Park Lane – Glasgow Harbour | sleeps 4 + 2 dogs
The missing lighthouse keepers of the Flannan Isles, Outer Hebrides
On Boxing Day 1900, a supply ship visited the Flannan Isles’ lighthouse at Eilean Mor. The island of Eilean Mor was completely uninhabited except for its three lighthouse keepers. On arrival, they found the place deserted – two of the three oil skin coats used by the keepers were missing. On further inspection, half-eaten meals were found on the kitchen table, and stranger still, the clock on the wall had stopped.
The logbook contained enigmatic statements about a raging storm on December 15th, although no bad weather was reported and calm seas were documented in the wider vicinity of Eilean Mor. It was also against regulations for all three keepers to leave the lighthouse at once. It’s likely the men were swept away by the sea, as at the landing stage, ropes that were usually stowed away in a crate were found strewn around.
Nobody has answers as to why the clock stopped, or whether there was a ghost storm, or why the keepers behaved so uncharacteristically. The legend endures and will probably do so forever.
Good to know
- Where is Eilean Mor lighthouse?: Eilean Mor Lighthouse, Eilean Mor, Flannan Islands, Outer Hebrides
- Can I visit Eilean Mor lighthouse?: No. It is very difficult to get to the Flannan Islands as a tourist. There are no ferries although you can visit by private boat.
- Stay nearby: Sleatabhal | sleeps 6 + 2 dogs
The Ghost Road (A75), near Dumfries
The A75 between Gretna Green and Dumfries is the most haunted stretch of road in Scotland, possibly the entire UK. Reports of phantom furniture vans, hens, wild cats, skeletons, hooded men, and body snatchers are just the tip of the iceberg. It’s so freaky, the Internet is full of tales of drivers’ and passengers’ encounters with the menagerie of monsters and phantoms that stalk the A75 at Kinmount (the Annan Road).
Many stories are vague and short but it’s still a lot of fun to read about the sheer lunacy and variety of sightings along Annan Road. Stories throughout the 20th century concern the disappearance of William Hare (1804-1910) who was last seen along the route making his way home to Ireland. He was part of the notorious duo, Burke and Hare, who murdered people to sell their bodies to physicians in Edinburgh. Body snatching was rife back then. After Hare set off from Dumfries one night in 1829, he was never seen again. The A75 runs along the same route it has since it was a carriageway.
Keep an eye out for strange occurrences along the road but take caution, it's a fast road. And the views are amazing if you travel by day.
Good to know
- Where is the Kinmount Straight?: Kinmount Straight, Annan Road, Dumfries and Galloway, DG1 4JS
- Can I visit the A75?: Yes, it’s a public road. But do you want to travel along it at night?
- Stay nearby: Galloway Townhouse | sleeps 5 + 1 dog
Tay Bridge disaster ghost train, near Dundee
On 28 December 1879, the Tay Bridge near Dundee collapsed during a violent storm taking a train with it into the river below. All 75 passengers and staff perished in the accident.
The ghost story that surrounds it tells that on the anniversary of the disaster, the train is seen in mid-air where the old bridge once stood before vanishing into thin air on the spot where the locomotive and its carriages plunged into the Tay. The disembodied screams of the passengers holler in the night. If you’d like to know more about the interesting history of Scotland’s most famous railway bridge, read about the Firth of Forth in our blog. Will you be out and about to see if the ghost train appears this year?
Less haunted but just as interesting is Dundee, the UK's only UNESCO City of Design, known for its cutting-edge futuristic technology and arts. It is home to the V&A Dundee; Scotland's premier design museum. Maybe one day, someone will design a ghost catcher, or prove the existence of an afterlife.
Good to know
- Where is the Tay Bridge?: Tay Bridge, Dundee
- Can I visit the Tay Bridge?: There is a newer bridge near the site of the old bridge. You can catch a train from Dundee to cross the river or view the new bridge from the Tay Road Bridge.
- Stay nearby: Laird’s View | sleeps 2
Scotland's most haunted castles
The girl who fell from the tower at Cawdor Castle, Nairn
Forever associated with William Shakespeare's Hamlet, Cawdor Castle dates back to 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-like quality, with its majestic turrets and imposing tower house overlooking beautiful surrounding gardens.
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 the 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.
Good to know
- Where is Cawdor Castle?: Cawdor Castle, BB9090, Cawdor, Nairn, IV12 5RD
- Can I visit Cawdor Castle?: Yes, Cawdor Castle is open to the public in the spring and summer. 29 April – 1 October: 10am – 5pm
- How much does it cost to visit Cawdor Castle?: Adults £14.50, Children £8.00 | For more information, visit the website.
- What facilities does Cawdor Castle have?: WCs, parking, gift shop, cafe, audio tours, some wheelchair access on the grounds, fishing lake
- Stay nearby: The Spires | sleeps 4
The Black Monk of Loudoun Castle, Ayrshire
There is a ghost known as the Black Monk that stalks Loudoun Castle in Ayrshire. Once known as the Windsor of the North, Loudoun Castle burnt down in 1941, leaving behind a shell. Steeped in local history and lore, the Campbells of Loudoun lay claim to Robert Bruce and William Wallace (the castle was the last known location of the latter's sword).
Sightings of the Black Monk are accompanied by the smell of rotting flesh. On one occasion that is well-documented, the Campbells had gathered together in the drawing room after dinner, the foul smell of rancid flesh crept into the room and the little terriers, who had been dosing by the fire, went berserk, hackles raised and teeth bared, barking at an invisible presence. Suddenly, a shirt was violently ripped from the back of one of the male guests (by the ghost), causing the terriers to leap to his defence; they were dragged from the ground as the Black 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, all traces of the Black Monk disappeared too.
Nowadays, there is an abandoned theme park at Loudoun Castle that was opened between 1995 and 2010. He's not been seen near Loudon Castle for over 70 years but a strange air still lingers to this day.
Good to know
- Where is Loudoun Castle?: Loudoun Castle, Howletburn, Galston, Ayrshire, KA4 8PE
- Can I visit Loudoun Caslte?: No. There is no public access to the castle ruins because it is within the grounds of an old theme park.
- Stay nearby: Castle Wing | sleeps 16 + 2 dogs
The never-ending card game of Glamis Castle, Angus
In the heart of Angus, in the lowland valley of Strathmore, lies Glamis Castle. The castle is widely known 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 of Glamis Castle's ghosts is that of Alexander Lindsay, 4th Earl of Crawford, also known as Earl Beardie. Said to have been a cruel and twisted man, he was known to drink heavily and his vengeful presence has been seen, heard and felt around the castle with children waking up in the night to see a dark figure looming over their beds.
The Earl's story so goes that upon returning to his room one night, he was heard drunkenly shouting for someone to come and play cards with him. When nobody accepted the offer, he raged that he’d play the Devil himself. Shortly afterwards, Lucifer himself turned up to play card games all night with the evil Earl. Come the dawn, the Devil was seen leaving the castle with Earl Beadie's soul, it having been lost in a wager. Losing to the Devil also condemned the Earl to play cards by himself for all eternity at the castle. The location of his room is unknown, but his tormented shouts for a partner are still heard in the dead of night.
Good to know
- Where is Glamis Castle?: Glamis Castle, Forfar, Angus DD8 1RJ
- Can I visit Glamis Castle?: Yes, it is open to the public between mid-March and mid-December daily 10am – 5pm. Precise dates differ from year to year.
- How much does it cost to visit Glamis Castle?: Castle tour: Adults £16.50, Children £10 | Gardens and grounds: Adults £7.50, Children £4.50 | For more information, visit the website.
- What facilities does Glamis Castle have?: WCs, parking, restaurant, gift shop, dogs welcome on the grounds, some wheelchair access
- Stay nearby: Shank of Omachie Cottage | sleeps 2
The spurned bride of Baldoon Castle, Dumfries and Galloway
Baldoon Castle is now a ruin but was formerly owned by the Dunbars of Westfield from 1530 to 1800. The atmosphere is thick here and you can almost sense that something sad has happened.
The tale of Baldoon Castle's phantom is an unhappy one. In 1669, a rich young woman called Janet Dalrymple was forced to leave the man she loved, Archibald Rutherford (a pauper) to marry Sir David Dunbar. There are a few versions of the story but legend has it that she stabbed Dunbar, or she herself was murdered on her wedding night. Either way, Dunbar survived the attack.
Ever since the turn of the 18th century, the ghost of Janet Dalrymple of Carscreugh has roamed the castle dressed in white, looking blood-spattered and sinister. The anniversary of her death, 12 September, is when you’ll have the best chance of spotting this spurned spectre. The ghost is the subject of Sir Walter Scott's novel and an opera by Donizetti called Bride of Lammermuir.
Good to know
- Where is Baldoon Castle?: Baldoon Castle, Newton Stewart, Dumfries and Galloway, DG8 9AG
- Can I visit Baldoon Castle?: Yes.
- How much does it cost to visit Baldoon Castle?: It is free to visit.
- What facilities does Baldoon Castle have?: There are no facilities. Baldoon Castle is a ruin.
- Stay nearby: Hilltop Rest | sleeps 2 + 1 dog
The Grey Lady of Brodick Castle, Isle of Arran
Brodick Castle, situated near the base of Goatfell Mountain on the Isle of Arran, was reconstructed in the 19th century but incorporates the original structure which dates back to the 13th century. Before then, there was a Viking fort on the site, so you can only imagine the history and memories held here. For most of its life, it has been owned by members of the Hamilton family.
Brodick Castle has a whole host of ghost stories to keep you and your family scared for weeks. The oldest part of the castle is haunted by the ghost of the Grey Lady, who is said to have starved to death in the dungeons of the castle after succumbing to the plague. Another version of the story tells that she drowned nearby. She was a servant girl who fell pregnant to the Captain of the Guard. As a result, she was dismissed from service and disowned by her family. Her spirit is seen to be cleaning floors and staircases, her scouring is heard as she cleans the steps and flagstones of the halls and kitchens.
The apparition of a mysterious man has also been seen sitting quietly in the library all by himself. Even more peculiar, perhaps, is the white hart (a stag) that has been repeatedly seen on the grounds of the castle whenever a chief of the family is close to death. For some more ideas on places to visit on the Isle of Arran, we have compiled a handy guide for you.
Good to know
- Where is Brodick Castle?: Brodick Castle, Brodick, Isle of Arran KA27 8HY
- Can I visit Brodick Castle?: Yes, it is open to the public, 10am – 5pm daily.
- How much does it cost to visit Brodick Castle?: Castle, gardens and grounds: Adults £15, Children £9 | For more information, visit the website.
- What facilities does Brodick Castle have?: Parking, WCs, play park, cafe, tuck shop, dogs on leads welcome outdoors (except for walled garden), some wheelchair access, baby changing facilities
- Stay nearby: Mill Cottage - Lamash | sleeps 4
The harbinger of Huntingtower Castle, Perthshire
The land here was held by the Ruthven family from the 12th century when Huntingtower Castle, also known as the Palace of Ruthven, used to be called Ruthven Castle. Mary Queen of Scots visited the castle soon after her marriage to Lord Darnley and, later, the 4th Lord Ruthven kidnapped the 15-year-old King James VI and held him a prisoner here for a year. None of these events have yielded a ghost story to our knowledge.
My Lady Greensleeves is the name of the resident ghost at Huntingtower Castle. Sightings of My Lady Greensleeves have preceded a death on the grounds. My Lady Greensleeves is said to have been Dorothea, the daughter of the 1st Earl of Gowrie, William Ruthven (1600s). Legend has it that she eloped with a servant and was never seen again except for in phantasmagorical form.
Perthshire is beautiful and full of history and folklore. For even more inspiration on your Perthshire holiday, visit our guide to the county.
Good to know
- Where is Huntingtower Castle?: Huntingtower Castle, Castle Brae, Perth, PH1 3JL
- Can I visit Huntingtower Castle?: Yes, it is open to the public. 1 April – 30 September: 9.30am – 5.30pm | 1 October – 31 March: 10am – 4pm (closed for lunch 12.30pm – 1.30pm)
- How much does it cost to visit Huntingtower Castle?: Adults £7.50, Children £4.50. For more information, visit the website.
- What facilities does Huntingtower Castle have?: Parking, WCs, picnic area, dogs on leads are welcome, gift shop, some wheelchair access
- Stay nearby: Rockdale | sleeps 4 + 2 dogs
Do you believe in ghosts?
From an infamous 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. But the question remains, are you brave enough to go ghost hunting in Scotland? Here are some tips if you want to open the door to the realm beyond the grave.
Ghosts are difficult to define precisely because paranormal science offers no clear conclusions. The current understanding is that ghosts are visual remnants of people who have passed away. They tend to haunt places that were known to them in life. Occasionally, they are visible or detectable through sound, smell or touch.
Ghosts don’t operate on a timetable like some seem to do in the movies. Encounters usually occur randomly and unexpectedly. Ghost hunters have to be very patient in their vigils. Most of us will never live to see a ghost.
We wouldn’t like to state a firm case for their existence or the reverse; we are experts in selling holiday cottage escapes and not the afterlife. What we can say is that the legends and tales of the ghosts we’ve featured in this guide certainly enhance Scotland’s allure, and we think it would be very exciting to see a ghost.
Whilst there is no guarantee that you will see a ghost, we’d suggest booking a place on a ghost tour wherever they are available. They are great fun, and the guides are good at creating the right mood. You could also join your local paranormal group if there is one. These groups go out to local sites of interest to detect spooky activity on a regular basis.
Find Scotland's most haunted places
You can find out where Scotland's most haunted places and castles are with this handy map.
Stay at a self-catering holiday cottage or castle
What would you do if you came face-to-face with 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 and all year round. Who knows, you might find yourself staying in your own haunted castle.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.