Mike is a freelance writer exploring obscure media, wyrd tales, and cultural oddities.
Bloody and mysterious history steeps the many castles and forts found across Britain. As such, there's little wonder that paranormal experiences are rife within these ancient structures. Here we look at some of the most haunted castles and forts found within Great Britain and The British Isles.
1. Chillingham Castle, Northumberland
Marketed as 'Britain's Most Haunted' castle, Chillingham castle's many spectre's seem inclined to back up that claim. Chillingham was initially a monastery before becoming a strategically important fort in the wars between the English and Scottish. All that war and death has seemingly left a few stragglers, with ghosts reported to haunt the chapel, the chamber, the courtyard and even the pantry. The most famous spirit, though, is the 'blue boy' who, according to the owners, used to haunt the castle's pink room.
Chillingham's reputation has made it a prime location for paranormal investigations, and you can see for yourself what all the fuss is about on a guided ghost tour.
2. Windsor Castle, Berkshire
The oldest and largest occupied castle in the world, and the Queen's favourite weekend home, Windsor castle might have the most ghosts too. As is to be expected in this Royal Residence, many of its hauntings are said to be the spirits of King's and Queen's. Henry VIII, his executed wife Anne Boleyn, and youngest daughter Elizabeth I are among the many Royals said still to walk the rooms and corridors of the castle.
3. Dudley Castle, West Midlands
This ruined fortification was first built shortly after the Norman conquest of 1066. Unfortunately, much of the castle met its end during the first English Civil War. A fire in 1750 destroyed the last habitable parts. For all that death and destruction, it seems that some spirits are still unwilling to leave the place. Commonly seen spectres include The Grey Lady and a witch and her cat, said to have met their demise after being thrown from the keep.
4. Pengersick Castle, Cornwall
Believed to be one of Cornwall's most haunted places, Pengersick castle is associated with many legends and myths, many of which concern the Pengersick family that lived there. Some 20 ghosts are said to haunt the manor, including the ghost of John Milton and his wife, a Monk, and a 13-year-old girl who will try to push you over if she doesn't like you.
5. Dover Castle, Kent
This large fortification has often been called 'the key of England' due to its defensive position concerning the sea crossing with France. Visitors and staff report that a decapitated drummer boy haunts the battlements, whilst a woman in a red dress is known to appear in the old keep. There are also frequent reports of people hearing screams and voices within the castle.
6. Fyvie Castle, Scotland
This village castle in Fyvie boasts some unique tales of hauntings. First, there's 'The Grey Lady', supposedly the ghost of Lady Meldrum. Legend has it that Lady Meldrum was, by request, buried in a secret room in the Meldrum tower. When her remains were discovered in 1920 and buried in the cemetery, she began to haunt the grounds. There's also the Green Lady, Dame Lilias Drummond, left betrayed and heartbroken by her unfaithful husband. Finally, a phantom trumpeter who died of a broken heart is also said to haunt the castle.
7. Peel Castle, Isle Of Man
It's not just people who haunt the forts and manors across the British Isles. Indeed, there are many legends of ghostly animals frequenting these old stone structures. Such is said to have been the case in Peel Castle, where castle guards commonly saw a black spectral dog known as Mhoddey Dhoo. This dog was peaceful, though the guards were wary of being left alone with it. Unfortunately, one unlucky drunken guard made the mistake of encountering it alone and was literally scared to death. So the guards set about bordering the corridor the dog frequented. No one has spotted Mhoddey Dhoo since.
8. Craig y Nos Castle, Wales
This picturesque county house that rests alongside the River Tawe is home to hauntings both amusing and tragic. French Tenor Ernesto Nicolini and composer (and admirer) Gioachino Rossini are two apparitions visitors have reported seeing. However, much of the paranormal activity within the castle occurs within the old children's ward, where many died young of tuberculosis.
9. Muncaster Castle, Cumbria
The stunning Muncaster castle is home to two ghosts. The first is 'The White Lady', often identified with Mary Bragg, murdered by the main gate in the 19th century. The other is Tom Skelton, a.k.a. 'Tom Fool', as mischievous and sinister a servant in death as he was in life. Tom, said to be guilty of murder amongst other misdemeanours, was allegedly the inspiration behind Shakespears fool in King Lear. If you don't fear Tom's trickery, you can find his portrait (a rarity for a servant) within the castle.
10. Glamis Castle, Scotland
Another castle that hosts ghosts into the dozens is Glamis castle. The most terrifying might be the woman without a tongue, often observed looking on from beyond a barred window. There's also the apparition of Alexander Lindsey, also known as Earl Beardie, a drunken gambler supposedly trapped in an eternal game of cards with the Devil. Of course, no haunted castle is complete without its own 'Grey Lady', and Glamis has one in the form of Lady Glamis, who was burned at the stake for witchcraft in 1537.
Further Reading & References
Jones, R. (2003) 'Haunted Castles of Britain And Ireland'. New Holland Publishers Ltd
Reader's Digest. (1977) 'Folklore Myths And Legends Of Britain' (2nd ed.). Reader's Digest Association
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Mike Grindle