With stark backdrops and tales as old as time, it is no wonder Scotland boasts countless ghost sightings. Apparitionists from across the globe flock to the country to try their luck at spotting something otherworldly.
We have compiled a list of some of our favourite haunted spots, giving a glimpse into their history and the spirits that dwell therein.
Perched high atop a rocky peninsula in Scotland’s northeast lies Dunnottar Castle. The castle has a truly violent past having changed hands numerous times after being conquered by King Edward during the war for independence.
The location of the castle is one of the most breathtaking in the country, surrounded by sharp cliffs dropping into the depths of the North Sea. The warring history of the castle and the prisoners kept there has led many to believe this is a place of unrest.
Famously, there have been sightings of two females: a young girl in a tartan skirt and the ‘Lady in Green’ sighted in the local brewery. It is also believed ghostly cries of anguish can be heard in the castle ruins at night when no other living person is present.
Mary King’s Close
We could not compile a list of haunted attractions without a mention of Mary King’s Close. Designed to be one of Edinburgh’s largest tourist attractions, it now boasts costumed tours and characters.
Situated near Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, the close comprises various underground passageways which run beneath the buildings there. The close is named after Mary King, a merchant who lived in the buildings above.
Stories from the close include plague doctors, decay and even murder. While the tour may be a bit too theatrical for the dedicated ghost hunters among us, it still offers great fun. Talented actors and guides adorn costumes of the era to tell fascinating, and often gruesome, tales from the past.
Moving over to the west coast, we find another castle situated on a cliff peak: Culzean Castle. A grand estate made up of woodlands, country parks and beaches, it makes for a beautiful and varied escape on any given day.
Yet, beneath the modern-day attractions lies a bloody history. As any apparitionist will tell you, a history of death in a castle usually leads to ghostly sightings – and there are a number of listed sightings at Culzean.
One of the most prominent spirits does not come from death at battle; rather, a piper who was asked to walk through the grounds to a hill beyond the caves to prove to residents at the time that it was not haunted. He was never found again and legend has it that, the night before a Kennedy wedding, the sound of pipes can be heard from the foot of the caves and a lone figure sighted on Piper’s Brae…
Now mostly used as a wedding venue and hotel, Comlongon Castle doesn’t have quite the fraught history of some of the battled castles on the list. While no wars were fought here, the castle is not without suspected murder.
Marion Carruthers, of the nearby Mouswald Castle, was due to marry James Douglas of Drumlanrig Castle. More a union of opportunity than love, it is believed that Marion jumped from the tower in the castle to avoid the marriage.
However, another theory states that Marion may have been pushed, hence the presence of her ghost. A crying woman has been reported to have been seen throughout the grounds, with the sounds of wailing heard throughout the halls. It is also believed that, on the spot where Carruthers fell to her death, no grass has ever grown since.
Anyone who has considered travelling the highlands will be familiar with Glencoe. The road through the valley connects the western highlands with the central belt, with otherworldly beauty and famous glens.
Glencoe has homed some truly astonishing battles, not least the massacre of Clan MacDonald in the 1690s. The troubled past of the area has led to many sightings, primarily throughout the winter. The morning of the 13th February, the anniversary of the massacre, is when the presence of the murdered MacDonalds can be most felt.
Other apparitions include the Washerwoman of Glencoe who, if sighted, foresees a violent death. She sits by a river or stream washing the bloodied clothes of those about to die. To put it bluntly, she is definitely one to avoid…
The Drover’s Inn
It wouldn’t be a Scottish trip without visiting some of our traditional pubs. The Drover’s Inn is one of the oldest pubs in the country, and has managed to retain its huge popularity with live music on the weekends and a fantastic food menu to boot.
The pub is also home to a range of ghosts – some of which have even been caught on camera! While this video footage is a joke designed to entice visitors, there are many stories of sightings attributed to the pub.
The website features a host of stories, ranging from old to recent, of visitors and guests of the inn who have encountered various apparitions. Check them out here and pay a visit to try and spot some of your own!
Our final destination is less of a haunted spot and more an inspiration for one of the most famous horror novels of all time. Written in 1897 by Bram Stoker, Dracula has gone on to inspire Vampire culture ever since.
While Stoker was born and raised in Ireland, it is believed that inspiration for Count Dracula’s lair came from a holiday to Cruden Bay in Aberdeenshire where he spotted Slains Castle.
While the castle is now a ruin, you can still visit the site. Fans of Dracula may also be interested in staying in the Kilmarnock Arms, which is where Stoker took refuge on his many trips to Cruden Bay.
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