5 Terrifying Haunted Castles in Scotland

Updated on November 26, 2017
Gus None profile image

French and English writer who loves traveling. I traveled to Scotland and decided to write this article about haunted castles.

There have been well over two thousand registered castles in Scotland, and the country has had its fair share of war and blood. The inhabitants of the assaulted castles would flee, surrender, or sometimes die in the attacks. Due to the medieval context of these battles, there are numerous alleged ghosts wandering the grounds of some of the castles. A lot of these fortifications are now open to the public, and every year, hundreds of people report paranormal activity.

1. Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is reputed to be one of the most haunted locations in Scotland, and the city itself has been called the most haunted city in all of Europe. The castle is Scotland's most-visited paid tourist attraction, with well over 1 million visitors every year. From April 6 to 17, 2001, the castle was the subject of one of the largest scientific investigations of the paranormal ever conducted.

Dr. Richard Wiseman, a psychologist from Hertfordshire University in southeast England, was helped by 240 volunteers to explore the allegedly haunted sites in a 10-day study. Only those who knew nothing about Edinburgh's haunted reputation were allowed to participate. The volunteers were led in groups of 10 through the different rooms of the castle.

By the end of the experiment, nearly half of the 240 volunteers reported phenomena they could not explain. Even more chilling, the highest number of paranormal experiences by the volunteers were reported to take place in the very areas that did have a bigger haunted reputation, while the volunteers knew nothing about them.

Reports were chilling. They included the feeling of something tugging at clothes, an unseen presence touching the face, a feeling of being watched, seeing shadowy figures, sudden drops in temperature. One person even reported a burning sensation on the arm.

The paranormal reports in and around Edinburgh Castle have been going on and on for years. The deeper one wanders down its dark stone corridors, the more ghosts one is bound to meet.

2. Airth Castle

Sir William Wallace was a Scottish knight who was one of the main leaders during the Wars of Scottish Independence in the late 13th and early 14th centuries. He is remembered as a patriot and national hero for his contribution to Scotland.

The Airth castle was one of his victims. The purpose of the attack was to rescue his imprisoned uncle. The fortification ended up being completely destroyed, and a new one was erected. It was destroyed again after the defeat of King James III in 1488. Only then, the fortification currently known as the Airth castle was built and remained.

The castle was turned into a hotel during the mid 20th century, and ever since then it is said to be haunted by its history. Various visitors who stayed at the hotel reported sightings of a nanny with two young children who are said to have died in a fire at the castle. The sound of children playing has been reported specifically in rooms 3, 4, 9 and 23. People have also reported hearing cries and screams believed to be from a maid who was attacked by her master and left to die. A ghost dog is also believed to roam the hallways, occasionally biting the ankles of the terrified visitors spending the night at the castle.

3. Holyrood Palace

Holyrood palace often overwhelms visitors with the energy of victims’ restless souls and spirits, for the fact that the building has been the scene of many dark killings. David Rizzio was the private secretary and confidant of Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary's husband had become extremely jealous of his wife's relationship with the Italian, and his hatred came to a head on the night of March 9th when, accompanied by a group of men, he burst into the queen's private room and grabbed Rizzio to kill him. The servant was stabbed 56 times and his body thrown down the main staircase. The scene was rather bloody, and some particular blood stains from the murder are said to reappear no matter how many times they’re scrubbed clean. These blood stains can still be seen seen nowadays when visiting the castle.

Mary’s husband died in a supposedly accidental explosion, a year after having killed Rizzio. Many people believe that Mary secretly ordered the death of her husband, to seek revenge for the death of the servant. The ghost of her husband has been witnessed many times wandering the grounds of Holyrood.

Finally, Agnes Simpson, a woman who was accused of being a witch, is said to haunt the place. She was killed in 1592, stripped, and tortured to death. Her naked body has been seen walking through the palace and its grounds, leaving visitors terrified.

4. Glamis Castle

One of the most notorious legends of this castle is the 200-year-old mystery of The Monster of Glamis. His original name was Thomas Lyon-Bowes, reportedly born in October 1821 and dead on the same day. He was an heir to one of Scotland’s noble titles, and legend has it that he was actually locked away in a secret chamber in the family castle. His existence was denied after being born seriously deformed. A lack of gravestone is what started the rumors in the village, and over time the story spread to Europe and North America. A story featuring the monster even appeared in the New York Times in 1864.

Still today, the monster is said to be kept in a secret chamber. A group of guests once went to search for the monster by hanging towels from all the rooms they could enter in the hope to find the secret chamber. After going outside to look at the covered windows, one was still empty. This window can never be found from the inside of the castle, and it is said to be the one from the secret chamber.

Members of staff believe the secret room is on the top story of the castle inside a tower, where they sometimes hear strange thuds and bangs coming from within the walls of the building.

5. Rosslyn Chapel

Rosslyn chapel was featured in the bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code and its 2006 film adaptation. There was also a DVD program about the Rosslyn chapel, where the disturbing secrets buried deep within the chapel's past come to light.

There have been a lot of stories surrounding the building. Many visitors to the chapel who were unaware of its reputation as a supernatural hotspot have reported odd apparitions which vanish as soon as they appear. Those exploring the area around Rosslyn Castle have recalled encounters with a black knight riding on horseback. The fortification is also said to be home to a mysterious lady in white, who has been reported by countless tourists over the years. Rumors surround the chapel’s crypt as well. Even though it has been sealed off for many years, some say it is home to the Holy Grail. The crypt is also rumored to store the first crown jewels of Scotland, or the mummified head of Jesus Christ. Many legends surround this fortification, but none of them were ever really solved.

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