Ghostly ground: a look at some of the most haunted places in Scotland
By Toby Trueman
Scotland loves a ghost. The country has all the key ingredients necessary for the creation of rumours that are whispered in the corridors and passed across the campfire. The dark skies, darker history, old towns and ancient folklore all pitch in to the bubbling cauldron of endless experiences.
Scotland has been proclaimed one of the most haunted countries on Earth. Indeed, some of the locations found in the Bonny Land have stories attached to them that make hair change shade. What follows is a list of 10 Scottish locations deemed particularly curious on the breath of the supernatural.
Mary King's Close, Edinburgh
Where better to start than with Mary King's Close? Some say the most haunted place on the planet, with numerous ghosts rumoured to walk the ancient, cobbled streets.
Mary King's Close
The Close, which contains walls made from human ash, bore witness to the Great Plague that decimated the resident population before being bricked up and forgotten. Until today. BBC World Affairs Correspondent Allan Little describes some of the key moments from his career and answer questions about what it is like to report the world in an age of conflict. Bill Boyd reads his poem Hogmanay, written in the style of Robert Burns.
Glamis Castle, Angus
The former family home of the late Queen Mother is said to contain a secret room, bricked up hundreds of years ago. Inside sits The Earl of Crawford, forever locked in a game of cards with Satan himself. Add to this a Lady in White, said to be the spirit of the Lady of Glamis, imprisoned for years before being burned at the stake on a made-up accusation of witchcraft. Child ghosts, night time hammerings and an old lady who drags a sack through the grounds at night all add to mystery behind one of Scotlands most impressive castles.
Culloden Moor, Inverness-shire
The site of one of the most brutal battles in Scottish history, a place where, in just under one hour of 1746, the army of Bonnie Prince Charlie was slaughtered by Prince William, Duke of Cumberland. Here it is said the birds don’t sing, the clashes of swords still carry across the boggy ground and the dead are rumoured to walk the grave mounds, muttering their confusion in endless defeat.
Standing proud at the centre of the city, Edinburgh Castle is one of Scotland’s most iconic landmarks. Yet stories exist here that aren’t painted on the tourist information boards. Tales of lost underground tunnels, haunted by the spirit of a wandering piper, ghostly drums heard in the castle walls, the source rumoured to be the headless spirit of a boy whose beat was first heard as far back as 1650. Welcome to the capital.
The Forest of Rothiemurchus, Inverness-shire
This dark wood in Inverness-shire is home to the grave of the Chief of Clan Shaw, whose spirit is said to challenge those who stray too deep into the forest (scroll down to 'Four Legged Man'). Accept the challenge, the legend goes, and the spirit will leave you be, but be cowardly and run, and you will never be seen again. Goblins, elves and other creatures of the night will also make any journey into the forest an uncomfortable one.
Borthwick Castle, Midlothian
The Great Hall and Red Room of this 1430 castle are said to be inhabited by the spirits of a murdered mother and child, accompanied by a chancellor who was burned to death for stealing money from the family. Apparently one of the most noted places for that greatest of ghostly experiences the 'feeling of being watched by unseen eyes'.
Southern Necropolis, Glasgow
The massive Glasgow cemetery, with its quarter million residents, is said to be the lair of a 7ft child-eating vampire with metal teeth. The story is so strong that in 1954, hundreds of children aged between four and fourteen came to the cemetery armed with sticks and knives, looking to kill the beast that had apparently eaten two local boys.
The A75, Dumfries and Galloway
It’s not just buildings and cemeteries that are accused of housing the restless spirits of the dead. The 15-mile stretch of the A75 between Annan and Gretna Green is reported to be one of the most haunted roads in Scotland, so much so that some locals refuse to drive down it in the dark. Mysterious mist, a Victorian woman and an old man are said to appear in the road, causing near accidents as drivers try to avoid them.
Goblin Ha, East Lothian
Yester Castle, or Goblin Ha (Goblin hall), near Gifford in East Lothian is an underground system of corridors and gothic vaults sunk beneath an ancient ruin. Its story is even more impressive. Back in the 13th century, Sir Hugo de Gifford, a local warlock, made a deal with the devil, summoned an army of goblins and demanded they build him the hall. Once finished, the necromancer spent the rest of his years practicing sorcery and Satanism in the underground vault. A vault which you can still visit today, armed with a torch and nerves of steel.
The Ragged School, Edinburgh
Established in the 1800s the ragged school was a grim education establishment for 50 of the city’s poorest and most deprived children. It’s been derelict for years, and reports of the sound of children running around and an air of sickness give this grim location an uneasy edge.