DISCOVERING ABERDEENSHIRE’S MOST HAUNTED LOCATIONS
As we enter Autumn, we welcome nature’s spectacular transition. While the temperature starts to cool down, the colours in Scotland’s landscape starts to warm up, creating some truly epic scenery. This time of year embraces the darkness, which means that the landscapes become a lot more dramatic.
This season is perfect for getting us in the Halloween spirit, so with that we wanted to discover some of Scotland’s spookiest places to explore and find out more about their ghostly residents and gruesome tales. Together with VisitAberdeenshire we want to share some of these places with you, and tell you the tales of their haunting past.
Halloween, also known as ‘All Hallows Eve’, originates from the Celts who lived 2,000 years ago. They believed that on the night before the new year, which they celebrated on November 1st, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. So on the night of October 31st they celebrated Samhain (pronounced sow-in), when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.
HAUNTED CASTLES IN ABERDEENSHIRE
Aberdeenshire is home to over 263 castles, all of which are steeped in rich history, it is no wonder that many of these castles are said to be haunted by its previous occupants. We have selected just a handful to share with you and perhaps you too, wish to discover these and their ghoulish residents for yourself
NEW SLAINS CASTLE
If you head towards the coast, you will be able to find the remains of Slains Castle along the cliff tops in Cruden Bay. This castle is famously known as the inspiration for the setting of Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula (1897), and today you are able to get up close and personal. With extreme caution you are able to explore the ruins and wander around what would have once been the hallways and rooms. This is certainly an eerie place to be at this time of year where you can hear the waves crashing against the rocks beneath you, and the crows hovering above your head and the vast fields of crops that surround you.
It is believed that the crumbling ruin isn’t completely abandoned, as it is said to be haunted by the ghost of Victor Hay, who was the 21st Earl of Errol and died in the 20th century. Sightings of WWII soldiers marching past and a horse and carriage have also been reported.
Fyvie Castle is an 800 year old fortress located in the village of Fyvie near Turriff. Over the years the Castle was residence to a succession of clan families, consisting of Preston, Meldrum, Seton, Gordon and Leith. During the course, each clan had constructed a new tower to the Castle, making it one of the largest and most magnificent castles in Scotland, with a total of 109 rooms. Fyvie Castle is also home to the widest turnpike staircase at 10ft wide, which is rather impressive.
Within the walls of the Castle, you will find an incredible collection of antiquities, armour and an impressive portrait collection adorning the walls, including works by Raeburn, Batoni, Romney, Gainsborough, Opie, Lawrence and Hoppner. While walking the corridors and exploring the rooms, you can almost feel the presence of its past come alive. Perhaps the reason for this is that nowadays it is said that the only residence of the Castle, are the ghosts that haunt it.
There have been so many sightings and reports over the years that it is very hard to disagree that this Castle is haunted, it is ranked amongst the most haunted castles in Britain and has appeared on the TV series ‘Most Haunted’. When speaking with Leslie who works at Fyvie, she informed us that they have recorded nine different ghosts. Some have been sighted by the staff, the public and by the attendees of paranormal nights that take place within the castle.
The most popular occurrences are with ‘The Green Lady’, who is the ghost that communicates the most, and is even referred to as ‘head ghost’, who keeps the others in check. The Green Lady, was once known as Lilias Drummond who was married to Alexander Seton. It is said that her husband cruelly held her captive in ‘The Chartered Room’ to punish her for failing to provide a son and heir. A rescue was attempted but failed and instead Lilias was forced to watch her family members being killed and their body parts being flung past the window in the room in which she was held. Lilias eventually starved to death. This room is now referred to as ‘The Murder Room’.
Alexander Seton went on to remarry, and on the night of his wedding, ghostly screams were heard and scratching from outside the window of their marital bedchamber. When morning rose, they looked outside the window, where they found ‘Lilias Drummond’ scratched into the stone window sill, which can still be seen to this day.
On many of the paranormal nights that take place, the mediums have successfully communicated with her and during this conversation The Green Lady was asked “Do you want to hurt us?”, in which she responded “no”, she was then asked “Does anyone here want to hurt us”, to which she responded “yes!”. She advised that another ghost that lives in the castle is in fact malicious and is the only harmful ghost there, and his name is John Pollock.
Thankfully The Green Lady said not to worry as she wouldn’t let him harm anyone, which is where her title of ‘head ghost’ comes from. If you are brave enough and want to be in the presence of John you will find him in the library, this is also where his grisly death mask is on display, which shows the marks around his neck in which he was hung, and the reason for his hanging was for murder. For many visitors who are sensitive to spirits, before knowing of this room they find that when approaching the library they cannot go any further as the negative feelings that surround it are so strong, with some even claiming to feel sick, and refuse to go in.
Another ghost that can often be seen is Annie, she is a little girl that loves to play on the stairs, and this sighting can even be found on film. Another dark figure was sighted taking her hand and took her away up the stairs. There are no files on record of a little girl called Annie or where she came from, but she has also made contact and when asked if she liked visitors to the castle, she responded “Yes, because I’ve got people to play with,” so be sure to say hello to Annie when you are climbing the stairs.
Many of the tour guides have become familiar with the smells of the ghosts, and notice these become more apparent when they have guests on their tours who are more sensitive to spirits. The smell of roses can be smelt in the presence of ‘The Green Lady’ and there is also the ghost of a man who smokes cigars, which can also become a very strong smell. It is also very common for visitors to experience their ears popping when the spirits are around.
Fyvie Castle has a very interesting legend about ‘The Weeping Stones’. It is said that when the castle was being built, stones were removed from church lands by demolishing a chapel, but they fell into the river. A man called Thomas the Rhymer was looking to shelter in the castle and the laird at the time refused his entry, as a result of this Rhymer placed a curse on the castle and said that unless the three stones were recovered, the castle and estate would never descend in direct line – meaning there would be no first born son to be the heir. All three stones have never been recovered, there is one in the charter room, while another is reported to be built into the foundations, with the third said to still be in the river, and with that said there has never been a first born son and heir.
Also beneath the Charter Room where one of ‘The Weeping Stones’ rest, is a secret dungeon, It is said that it should never be opened for fear of the curse on the Laird. Anyone who opens the dungeon will mean death for the laird and blindness for his wife. Two Lairds ignored the warnings and opened the door. Both died, one wife went blind, and the second wife had problems with her sight thereafter. Thankfully these days the dungeon is inaccessible.
Kinnaird Head Castle and The Wine Tower
This multifaceted landmark is based in the coastal town of Fraserburgh, with a unique 450 year old story of continual reinvention and survival from castle, to the lighthouse, to museum. Kinnaird Head Castle, was built by the Frasers in the 16th Century – the town name of Fraserburgh then followed. Later on in 1787, the castle was sold to the Northern Lighthouse Board to be converted into Scotland’s first mainland lighthouse. The best way for this to be constructed was for the lighthouse to take over one of the corners of the castle, and today you can visually see the fusion between the two inside and out.
Adjacent to Kinnaird Head castle sits the Wine Tower facing towards you, with a backdrop of crashing waves against the rocks. This interesting structure is named ‘The Wine Tower’ but to this day it cannot be confirmed what the use of this building was for. Originally findings suggested that it was a secret catholic chapel, but there are various reasons that go against this outcome. It is more feasible that this was a separate building to the castle where the laird would entertain his important guests, and perhaps as the name suggests – drink wine.
The Wine Tower does however come with a dark ‘Romeo & Juliet’ tragedy of its own. In the late 1500s, Sir Alexander Fraser, the 8th Laird of Philorth had forbidden his daughter Isobel from seeing a piper from the village who she had fallen in love with. One night he was due to be in Aberdeen but the storms were so bad he had to turn back and head home. When he returned he found his daughter and the piper together, the laird was so enraged of his daughters betrayal that he imprisoned her in an upstairs room of the wine tower and chained the piper in the cave beneath her.
The storm was so bad that night that the water flooded the cave and the piper drowned. Isobel was so distraught by discovering his death that she flung herself from the window onto the rocks and died a savage and heartbreaking death. Legend has it that whenever a storm is brewing in Fraserburgh you can hear the sounds of bagpipes playing and many say that Isobel can be seen.
The Museum is a great starting point to learn about the history of this fascinating place, with tours available around the castle and wine tower provided by the excellent and knowledgeable team!
The Kilmarnock Arms
Located only a 5 minute drive away from Slains Castle is The Kilmarnock Arms Hotel. It has been welcoming guests for over 120 years, and has even welcomed Bram Stoker during the time he was writing his book Dracula.
You can find his signature in the hotels guest book dated back to 1894. The guest book is recently being restored by the Cruden Bay Community Association, but in its place they have a photocopied version where you can still see the famous entry.
The Kilmarnock Arms also has a restaurant and bar where you can enjoy lunch or dinner.
Meldrum House Hotel
Meldrum House is just a 15 minute drive from Fyvie Castle, nestled in the heart of Aberdeenshire’s tranquil countryside. This luxury hotel is a charming 13th century baronial mansion house with a 240 acre estate and golf course. Very well known for its 800 year old whisky cave bar, called ‘1236 at The Cave Bar’. The Cave Bar is part of the original manor house’s rich history, dating back to 1236. You can now enjoy casual dining and whisky tasting.
Meldrum House even has a resident ghost name ‘The White Lady’, who appears when children are left alone in the hotel to take care of them.
Braemar Castle is a 17th century castle built by the Earl of Mar in 1628 and over the years it has been a hunting lodge, a fortress, garrison and family home, situated in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. Home to the chiefs of Clan Farquharson, it is furnished with furniture, memorabilia and personal belongings of the Farquharson family. Now the castle’s future rests with the small community of Braemar.
Braemar Castle is said to be haunted by a young blonde-haired woman who was a newlywed bride. She awoke early on the morning after her wedding night to find that her husband was nowhere to be seen. Starting to panic, she concluded that her new husband had deemed her an unsatisfactory lover and so she threw herself from the window of the marital chamber window, where her life came to a gruesome end.
As it happens, her husband had in fact been on an early-morning hunting trip and was distraught to return to the castle and find his bride had ended her life. Today it is thought that she appears to those who have recently been married, or when newlyweds are staying in the castle.
Another spirit said to haunt the castle is that of John Farquharson of Inverey, also known as the ‘Black Colonel’.
Crathes Castle was built by Alexander Burnett in the 16th Century, where The Burnett family lived on for over 350 years. Robert the Bruce had granted them land back in 1323. Crathes Castle is made up of an intricate maze of turrets, towers, oak panels and painted ceilings, many of which survive beautifully to this day. Surrounded by its very own luscious gardens teamed with a backdrop of breathtaking landscapes, you can wander around and soak it all in. The walled gardens are particularly stunning, split into eight sections of glorious greenery and exotic flowers.
Crathes Castle looks like it is straight out of a fairy tale but it comes with a dark twist. It is no secret that this castle is haunted by a ghost referred to as ‘The Green Lady’. A publication in 1900 described it as an ‘apparition of a lady dressed in green, with a child in her arms’.
It is said that ‘The Green Lady’ was once a servant girl who worked in the castle who fell pregnant out of wedlock – by who we don’t know, but perhaps is the reason why ‘she fled the castle’. 100 years later in the 1800s, workmen were repairing the castle and uncovered the skeletal remains of a woman and a child beneath the hearthstone of the fireplace.
Castle Fraser, garden & estate is home to one of Scotland’s largest tower houses that was built between 1575 and 1636, by the 6th laird, Michael Fraser. It was home to the Fraser family for more than 400 years, and today the castle is filled with treasures including family portraits, ornaments, mementos, hidden trapdoors, secret staircases and even a spy hole, all telling stories of the lairds who lived here.
Over the years there have also been numerous sightings of the ghost of a Princess who was staying at the castle. Her ending wasn’t met with a fairy tale but instead a gruesome death. She was murdered while she slept in the Green Room, and her bloodied body was dragged down the stairs of the round tower. The blood stained the staircase so badly that the stairs had to be covered with wooden paneling, which can still be seen today.
Another ghost who resides in the castle belongs to Lady Blanche Drummond who died of consumption in 1874. Dressed in a long black gown, Lady Blanche Drummond has often been sighted roaming the grounds of the castle and wandering the staircases.
Visitors to the castle and members of staff have reported hearing ghostly whispers, laughter and music coming from the Great Hall. The kitchen staff have also reported hearing the sound of children laughing and singing, only to find that there were no children at the castle.
Scotland’s very own enchanting pink castle is nestled in amongst the most beautiful Scottish landscape. It is a fine example of the best of Scottish Baronial architecture and it is even said that this castle is the inspiration behind Disney’s Cinderella castle.
Begun around 1576 and completed by c1626, this iconic tower house is amongst the best preserved and the most loved in Scotland. Craigievar was a family home until the 1960s, creating a quirky blend of modern comforts and rare antiquities within the ancient walls.
It wouldn’t be a fairy tale however, if there wasn’t a few evil twists along the way, the exterior may appear pretty and pink but within these walls lie some treacherous tales. There is a story of a fiddler who fell into a well in the kitchen and drowned to death. The fiddler haunts the castle, but it’s said that he will only appear before members of the Forbes family. However, the fiddler isn’t alone, there is another spirit that walks the castle, but this time from Clan Gordon. This spirit was once murdered by being pushed from one of the windows in the Blue Room.
The parkland grounds surrounding the castle are equally bewitching, with an unusual Scottish glen garden, a Victorian kitchen garden and two woodland trails.
The Fife Arms Hotel
A magical ending to a day of walking the rooms of Aberdeenshire’s haunted castles, would be to order a cocktail from ‘Elsa’s bar’ and retire into a comfortable chair in the lobby of the Fife Arms Hotel in front of the Robert Burns Fireplace, and listen to the sounds of the piano (plays from 5pm in the evening). What makes it so magical? Well apart from the fact that there are only five of these fireplaces in the entire world, the piano you are listening to plays by itself! Watching the keys play on their own is spellbinding.
Glen Dye Cabins – The Sawmill
If you go down in the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise … Brave the wilderness and find yourself surrounded by 30,000 acres of forest and moorland with the ultimate outdoors retreat. Sleep over in your very own cabin in the woods or you can even stay the night in a refurbished 1955 Airstream Safari caravan, that sits beside the sawmill’s fast flowing lade. AtGlen Dye you can enjoy the outdoor wood-fired hot tub and a wonderful outdoor shower created in the bones of the abandoned sawmill.
Aberdeen City also has its fair share of gruesome tales from the past……
ABERDEEN CITY Crime & Punishment Tour
Take yourself back 500 years with this audio time machine and walk the footsteps of Aberdeen’s streets where you will learn of the trials and tribulations that went on in this very city. This era was filled with horrifying tragedies and vicious crimes that led to their equally horrifying punishment, which in those days was more commonly by death.
This 45 minute walking tour takes you on an incredible journey back in time starting out at The Tolbooth Museum.
Find out more here
HIS MAJESTY’S THEATRE BEHIND THE SCENES TOUR
His Majesty’s Theatre is one of the most beautiful theatres in Scotland and an iconic part of Aberdeen City. Aberdeens theatre was built in 1906 and designed by the legendary theatre architect Frank Matcham. Learn about his signature design features, and explore the new and old sections of the city centre landmark on a behind the scenes tour, where you will be taken back in time to learn about its glorious history and be let in on some of its secrets that has been kept for over a hundred years.
You will be shown the exact location where a horrific accident took place whilst a show was performing and a former employee lost his life. Jake tragically died in 1942 when he was struck in the head by a rapidly-spinning winch handle. He was 69 when he was killed, attempting to put the brake on a lift which was transporting circus horses to the lower floor. The lift was only supposed to carry three at a time but a colleague decided to fill the lift with all six horses. Jake however lives on as HMT’s resident ghost, and is described as being rather mischievous. Jake likes to move objects when your back is turned. Keep a particular eye out for him by cold spots in the passageway nicknamed “Lambeth Walk”. Although quiet since the refurbishment in 1999, people believe Jake keeps an eye on his colleagues still to this day. Some report to hear the clip-clop of hooves too.
Ma Camerons is the oldest pub in Aberdeen, dating back to 1746 and is situated on Little Belmont Street. Not only is this quirky pub full of character and charm but it is home to its own resident ghost. Many of the people who have worked here over the years have reported instances where a spooky presence has been around. A lot of them say they felt like they were being watched when alone and even a few stating that the beer taps would turn on all on their own. There is also a story of a painter & decorator who heard knocks on the ceiling from a locked empty room, when he knocked three times on the ceiling in response he was answered with three more knocks from above. He was so scared that he fled from the pub in terror.
Ardoe House Hotel
Ardoe House Hotel is a beautiful baronial 19th century mansion set in 30 acres of tranquil countryside just 3 miles away from the city centre. Originally built by Soap merchant Alexander Ogston the hotel retains many of its original features and oozes plenty of character to this day.
Ardoe House is also home to its own ghost, referred to as ‘The White Lady’. She especially likes to linger by a painting of the previous owner’s wife, Katherine Ogston who lived in the mansion from 1839. Because of this, some believe the ghost is that of Mrs Ogston herself while others believe that it is the ghost of a former owner who was raped and fell pregnant before killing herself and her child.