See all stories
25 Feb 2018

Scottish ghost stories – witches, murder and folklore (Part 2)

A ghosted image of a piper in full ceremonial dress is overlaid on a dark photo of Culzean beach, with lightning forking down from the sky.
Spine-chilling tales of witchcraft, the supernatural, ghosts, ghouls, torture and murder most foul ... with over 20 haunted castles, palaces and historic houses across Scotland, we’ve got a story for everyone!

1. House of Dun

A view of the classical Georgian, symmetrical facade of House of Dun. Very tall trees surround the house. A garden is laid out in front of the house.

Beware the Headless Horseman who roams the lanes of Dun at night, seeking retribution on unwary travellers. This stunning Georgian mansion and its surrounding estate hold many a dark secret, including that of the harpist murdered at the Den of Dun on the very spot where his ghost has been seen playing musical laments. You may also encounter the phantom of the knight who, upon returning from the Crusades, discovered his wife had been tricked into marrying his friend. A sword fight ensued, and the usurper was run through and impaled on an ancient yew tree.

2. Drum Castle

A close-up view of the exterior of Drum Castle, looking at the Old Tower and courtyard in the foreground.

Gifted to the Irvines by Robert the Bruce in 1323, Drum is one of Scotland’s oldest tower houses and a hotspot of supernatural activities – from apparitions of Anna Forbes Irvine (who died in 1900) to the haunting laughter of her son Alexander, who died aged six in 1865. Hear stories of family heirlooms which inexplicably move in the night and ghostly footsteps in the dark. In 2014 one of Drum’s resident ghosts was even captured on camera, which featured extensively in the local and national press.

3. Crathes Castle

A view of the exterior of Crathes Castle, showing the elevation with a clock high on the tower. A flag flies from the castle roof. Tall trees with red and orange leaves stand either side of the lawn.

Visit the Green Lady’s Room, named after the spirit of a young woman who has often been seen by the fireplace wearing a green dress and cradling an infant in her arms. When the castle was renovated in the 1800s, the bones of a child – presumed murdered – were discovered under the hearthstone of the fireplace.

The archives tell of the unearthly appearance of a luminous block of ice that moves like someone walking but is not human in shape – these visions are always accompanied by a sharp drop in room temperature. The tower house is also home to the White Lady, thought to be Alexander Burnett’s young lover, Bertha. Poisoned by Lady Agnes for being unworthy of her son’s hand in marriage, Bertha visits on the anniversary of her murder.

5. Leith Hall

A view of a grand drawing room, with many red furnishings. Oil paintings hang on the patterned walls.

Home of the Leith-Hay family for nearly 400 years, Leith Hall is haunted by the ghost of John Leith who was shot in 1763 in a drunken brawl in Aberdeen. He was brought home but died three days later on Christmas Day. Wearing dark green trousers and a shirt, he appears in great pain, lamenting his injuries, with a dirty white bandage wrapped around his head and covering his eyes. Other sightings include apparitions of a family dog and children at play.

6. Castle Fraser

View of Castle Fraser’s main entrance in autumn

One of the grandest Castles of Mar, Castle Fraser is full of quirky features including secret staircases, trapdoors and a spy hole. Over the years there have been numerous sightings of a young woman who was murdered in the Green Room. Her bloodied body, dragged down the round tower, stained the steps to such an extent that they had to be covered in the wooden panelling we see today. Dressed in a long black gown, the ghost of Lady Blanche Drummond, who died in 1874, wanders the castle and its grounds. Ghostly whispers, laughter and music have also been heard in the Great Hall.

7. Haddo House

An aerial view looking down a long tree-lined avenue towards the grand Georgian Haddo House.

This elegant Georgian mansion was home to the Gordon family for over 400 years. One of its most famous residents was Lord Archibald Gordon, affectionately known as Archie. Unfortunately, he died in 1909, one of the first people in Britain to be killed in a car accident. Dressed in hunting tweeds with a shock of ginger hair, Archie’s ghost is often seen smiling and talking to visitors.

Haddo also has a more menacing supernatural side, where locked attic doors shake violently at night and staff have been threatened and chased by spirits through the servants’ corridors and vaulted cellars.

8. Fyvie Castle

A large entrance hall in a castle with a flagstone floor. Large red and orange rugs cover the middle. Suits of armour stand around the side of the room, and in the centre is a large fireplace with a large plaster decoration above.

Tales of murder and betrayal cast a spine-chilling shadow over this 800-year-old Scottish Baronial fortress. When the room temperature drops suddenly and the air fills with the scent of roses, it’s said that you’re in the presence of the ghost of Lilias Drummond, ‘The Green Lady’. Legend tells that Lilias was starved to death by her husband, Alexander Seton, for failing to provide a son and heir. On the night of his second marriage, her ghostly laments were heard outside the marital bedchamber. In the morning, and still visible today, her name was found freshly scratched into the castle walls.

Listen to tales of phantom soldiers, poltergeists and the curse of the weeping stones, then visit the secret burial chamber of the Grey Lady, whose remains were discovered encased in the castle walls and whose spirit roams the passageways.

9. Brodie Castle

Books on shelves in Brodie Castle library

Home to the Brodie family for nearly 450 years, this iconic 16th-century Scottish tower house has experienced a number of ghostly sightings over the centuries. In the Blue Sitting Room a phantom uniformed soldier has been seen sitting in contemplation; the spectre of a small dog has been spotted heading towards the children’s nursery; and occasionally the ghost of Lady Margaret, wife of the 21st Brodie of Brodie, visits the Best Bedchamber, where she died in a fire in 1786.

10. Hugh Miller’s Birthplace Cottage & Museum

Looking through the branches of a tree towards a white long cottage with a thatched roof. A cobbled lane runs outside the black wooden front door.

Visit the thatched cottage where Hugh Miller wrote of local legends and spine-chilling ghost stories. Hear of the ‘severed hand’ apparition that reached out to him as a child on the night his father perished in a shipwreck. Learn about the visions of Hugh’s great-grandfather, the buccaneer John Feddes, then visit the ‘little antique room’ where many an inexplicable occurrence has taken place.

11. Killiecrankie

Sunbeams shine through the thick canopy of trees in a mixed woodland.

On 27 July 1689, the peace and tranquillity of this beautiful gorge was shattered when the first shots in the Jacobite cause were fired. One soldier escaped by making a spectacular jump across the River Garry at the spot now known as Soldier’s Leap. On the anniversary of the battle, the Pass of Killiecrankie is said to ring with the sound of footsteps as the government army march to their doom. Other accounts describe terrifying encounters with a gruesome floating head.