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Famous Edinburgh Castle Ghosts and Hauntings

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Edinburgh Castle has a lot of scary stories to tell its visitors.

Edinburgh Castle has a lot of scary stories to tell its visitors.

The Most Famous Ghosts of Edinburgh Castle

Many old castles are haunted, and Edinburgh Castle is no exception. The castle found itself under attack on as many as 23 occasions, so it's no surprise that the spirits surrounding this place make themselves known from time to time.

Let's unravel some of the most common ghost sightings at this old Scottish castle filled with mysteries and bone-chilling stories.

The Headless Drummer

If you hear a drumming signal whenever you are wandering along Edinburgh Castle, then there is reason for caution. Well, maybe not in our time, but during the old times, this ghost of a headless soldier used to play a warning signal on his drums before the castle was about to be attacked.

I don't know how about you, but it gives me goosebumps. Imagine waking up one day at your beloved castle and hearing the ghost play on his drums, delivering a sign that you are in immediate danger. Given the times we live in now, I sincerely hope that the headless soldier won't need to warn Edinburgh's residents anymore, but one cannot be too sure.

The Lost Bagpiper

There is something about the ground underfoot at the castle that feels a bit unsettling. And there is a reason for that. Many years ago, an underground tunnel was discovered.

Since it was obvious to everyone that the tunnels were large and wide, a bagpiper was sent down to the tunnels as he could easily be located if lost, thanks to the constant sound of the bagpipes that filled the tunnel. Little did the poor bagpiper know that his trip to the underground would be his last.

The bagpiper managed to advance through the tunnels, but then all of a sudden, the piping stopped. His comrades decided to go to the tunnels to investigate why their bagpiper did not play the pipes anymore. Weirdly enough, they never found him or his instrument. Both had completely vanished.

After this horrible event, the tunnels were sealed and never reopened. However, the tourists visiting the castle have experienced the sound of the bagpipes when wandering near the tunnels. The bagpiper's restless soul seems to be attached to the tunnels after his unexplainable disappearance.

The Grey Lady

One of the most common sightings is that of a 16th-century woman. No one exactly knows who she is, but there are two main theories about who the spirit could have been.

One of the theories is that she could be a woman named Janet Douglas. This woman faced an almost unthinkably tragic death; she was accused of witchcraft and burned alive while her son was forced to watch.

The one who accused Janet Douglas was King James V. It's said that he blamed her because of a dispute King James had with her brother.

The other theory is that the woman could be the ghost of Marie de Guise. She was a very influential and powerful woman who reigned over Scotland for many years in the middle of the 16th century. The crowning of Marie de Guise happened on the 22nd of February, 1540. She died 20 years later, during the summer of 1560.

The Muck-Man

This ghost may be the most terrifying of the lot. This unfortunate man was one of the castle's prisoners, though his name and origins are unknown.

Imprisoned in the horrific, brutal dungeons of Edinburgh Castle, this man tried in utter desperation to escape the castle hidden in a wheelbarrow full of muck. His hopes of the wheelbarrow being taken out of the castle and emptied were answered, but not to his benefit...

The wheelbarrow he was hidden in was indeed taken out of Edinburgh Castle...where its contents were thrown over the battlements.

Of course, the man had zero chance of survival and broke his neck when falling from the castle. The man's spirit seems to haunt the place to this day, trying to push visitors over the battlements. His presence can be easily recognized, as he smells of manure.

Magnificent and mysterious Edinburgh Castle.

Magnificent and mysterious Edinburgh Castle.

Ghost Dogs

There is a pet cemetery in Edinburgh Castle where dogs that lived in the castle were buried after their death. So it isn't such a surprise that in addition to ghosts of human figures of the past, you can even encounter some dog spirits of the past.

There are reports of black-and-white spectral dogs, whose energy seems to be present at the castle to this day.


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.

© 2022 Jan Stepan