It can’t have escaped your notice that today is Halloween.
Over the past 13 days on Twitter, we’ve been exploring the grizzly tales, speculative spooks and horrible histories associated with some of the places in our care. Here’s a round up of what we discovered.
1. Memento Mori
This skull decorates the Bruce Vault at Culross Abbey. The vault was built in 1642 for Sir George Bruce of Carnock. Tombs often include depictions of skulls as “memento mori” – a reminder to the living that they, too, will die!
2. The Murdered Apprentice
Behind this ghoulish grimace is a tragic tale.
Legend says it’s the face of an apprentice who was murdered after getting on the wrong side of the master mason while building Seton Collegiate Church. There’s a similar story down the road at Rosslyn Chapel.
3. Malevolent Goblins
The murderous goblin Robin Redcap is said to get his name from his practice of soaking his cap in his victims’ blood.
Redcap is said to have been the familiar of Hermitage Castle’s wicked Lord Soulis. The wicked lord was possibly based on Ranulf de Sules, who was murdered in 1207 by his own servants.
4. The Curse of the Cairn
Do not disturb Torrylin Cairn!
Folklore tells of a farmer who quarried the neolithic burial cairn, scattering human bones and taking a skull 💀 home as a trophy.
Allegedly, he was stalked by phantoms afterwards, then thrown from his horse and killed…
5. The Green Lady
Does a green lady haunt the battlements of Dunstaffnage Castle? Legend has it that the spectre’s moods predict the outcome of great events. Will she smile or will she weep?
Find out more about “Ell-maid of Dunstaffnage” in this blog.
6. The Pink Lady
Have you heard tell of the “Pink Lady” at Stirling Castle?
This alleged haunting has been said to bring with it a sense of longing or the pain of unrequited love. Find out more about the reported haunting in the Stirling Castle blog.
7. A Haunting at Huntly?
A few days after the 5th Earl of Huntly died in 1576, loud noises were heard coming from his apartments at Huntly Castle.
At the time, they were attributed to ghaists (ghosts) and gyrecarlins (fairies). Could it be that the ‘erle of Huntlie wer risen againe’? 👻
8. Persecution and Superstition
During the North Berwick witch trials of 1590–2, well over 100 women and men were brought from North Berwick to Edinburgh Castle and brutally tortured and executed.
Find out more about this shocking period in the castle’s history.
9. The Wrath of the Kelpie
The carved Pictish stones found at St Vigean‘s Church gave rise to a tale that a Water Kelpie had built the church and still lived in a great subterranean loch beneath the church. From 1699-1736 the congregation was too scared to take Holy Communion there.
10. Lock ’em up and throw away the key…
In the 1920s, extensive repairs were carried out at Blackness Castle. During the works a macabre discovery was made in the pit-prison… In the ‘stem’ tower they found an iron manacle clasped around the wrist-bones of a long perished prisoner.
11. A Cursed Castle
“Yonder, that’s Urquhart Castle… ’Twas cursed by the witches of the Glen, and saw one unhappiness after another.” Outlander, Diana Gabaldon
Legend has it that Conachar Mor Mac Aoidh compelled a coven of witches to build Urquhart Castle for him on the banks of Loch Ness. The story goes that they cursed the castle too.
12. A Savage End
In 1546 Cardinal Beaton met a vicious end at St Andrews Castle.
A band of conspirators broke into the castle at daybreak, executed the Cardinal, mutilating the corpse and hanging it from a window.
Afterwards the remains of Cardinal Beaton, pickled in a barrel of brine, were left in the dungeon where he had imprisoned his enemies.
13. In the Mirk and Midnicht Hour
Sir Walter Scott relates the tragic tale of Lady Isabel who paid the ultimate price for refusing to marry the brute who murdered her father and brothers.
She was slain on the stairs at Rothesay Castle and Scott tells us that on a quiet night, her screams can still be heard… Read the full poem here.