Murder, Curses And Ghosts - Fyvie Castle in Scotland

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Fyvie Castle

Fyvie Castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland is not only one of the most famous but one of the most beautiful. It’s had a long and at times turbulent history

Surrounded by lovely parklands, the oldest part of the castle dates back to the 13th century. The location was originally chosen because of its defensive position - in a bend of the River Ythan. The rest of the land was surrounded by marsh giving a good protective boundary.

The name ‘Fyvie’ has probably changed since the earliest of times. Some researchers feel that the word is of ancient Pictish origin. Other sources claim its decadency from the Scots Gaelic, flodh abhuinn, meaning a 'wilderness by the river'. Others suggest that the name Fyvie means 'deer hill'.

Fyvie Castle, where murder, curses and ghosts are all part of it's long history.
Fyvie Castle, where murder, curses and ghosts are all part of it's long history. | Source
A markerFyvie Castle Scotland -
Fyvie Castle, Turriff, Aberdeen & Grampian AB53 8JS, UK
[get directions]

Beginings of Fyvie Castle

There are many ancient charters still in existence marking the historical dates of the Scottish monarchs who stayed at Fyvie.

One of the earliest was William the Lion (William I), who may be responsible for the beginnings of Fyvie. He was followed by his son, Alexander II, and in the 1300's Robert the Bruce held court at Fyvie. In later centuries Charles I was also a visitor to the castle.

Once it passed from royal hands, after the Battle of Otterburn in 1380, the castle begins to take on a more familiar appearance. Over its 800 years of existence there is a tradition that states each of the five towers represents every one of the five families who have owned the castle. All built their own respective tower, namely - Preston, Meldrum, Seton, Gordon and Forbes-Leith.

To witness the grandeur of this castle it’s hard to imagine that the history was at times far from romantic. Throughout the centuries we find curses, murder, intrigue and ghosts to name but a few of the fascinating stories surrounding Fyvie.

The Fyvie Castle Kitchen Gardens
The Fyvie Castle Kitchen Gardens | Source
A number of murders have been committed at Fyvie Castle over the centuries.
A number of murders have been committed at Fyvie Castle over the centuries. | Source

Murders Most Foul

Fyvie castle, as mentioned earlier, had its fair share of heartbreak over the centuries. Many claim that this is due to the curse put upon it by Thomas the Rhymer. Certainly death and murder are no strangers to Fyvie.

One of the most traumatic events as far as loss of human life goes, was a battle fought by Royalists and Covenanters at Fyvie on October 28th, 1644. The Royalist army, led by the Earl of Montrose, won the battle. The carnage was bloody and there is no telling how many men, from both sides, lost their lives in brutal fashion.

One of the strangest rooms within the castle is the library. Decorated in blood red wallpaper, with hundreds of books displayed around its magnificent walls, it holds a gruesome artefact. Among the wonderful old, rare books, is the bust of a head. However, it is no ordinary bust. It is the death mask of a murderer who was hanged. The noose mark can still be seen on the neck.

Moving on to another grisly secret we come to the main stairs. The stairs lead to one of the upper rooms, known as the Douglas Room. Many centuries ago, a Laird's wife was imprisoned here and starved to death. Although a valiant attempt was made by her kinsmen to rescue her, they were themselves caught, murdered and their bodies thrown from a top story window. Their blood is reputed to still stain the floorboards at Fyvie.

The staircase has not always had a dark history - sometimes it can be humorous. The Gordon family, with no respect for grand designs, used the staircase to ride their horses up and down as part of a wager.

The door of Fyvie Castle that is alleged to have been slammed shut by accident, in the face of the prophet, Thomas the Ryhmer.
The door of Fyvie Castle that is alleged to have been slammed shut by accident, in the face of the prophet, Thomas the Ryhmer. | Source
The stone marks the place where legend says Thomas the Rhymer was taken away for seven years by the Queen of the Fairies.
The stone marks the place where legend says Thomas the Rhymer was taken away for seven years by the Queen of the Fairies. | Source
Earlston, formerly called Ercildoune, the place where Thomas the Rhymer lived.
Earlston, formerly called Ercildoune, the place where Thomas the Rhymer lived. | Source

Curses and Thomas the Rhymer

The most famous curse to have been inflicted on Fyvie Castle is attributed to the great Scottish Prophet, 'Thomas the Rhymer'. (1220-1298).

Sir Thomas was born as Thomas Learmont. He lived in the Scottish Borders in the village of Ercildoune, now known as Earlston.

Thomas, when a very young man, is said to have acquired his powers when he fell asleep under the Eildon Tree near to Melrose Abbey. While in the sleep state he is said to have met the Queen of Faery. She took him to her kingdom and Thomas arrived back into normal life after a few minutes - only to discover that he had been missing from his world for seven years.

From this time he is alleged to have had mystical powers. Many claimed that his knowledge and powers rivalled that of the famous mystic and magician, Merlin.

The place where Thomas fell asleep is now marked by the 'Rhymer's Stone' as the tree no longer stands. He was also known as 'True Thomas' because he could never tell a lie.

Thomas's encounter with Fyvie Castle happened when he was a very old man. He accepted an invite to visit the castle. On approaching the main gates, a freak wind suddenly blew up and slammed the great castle doors in Thomas's face. Enraged at the insult, Thomas cursed the castle:

"Fyvie, Fyvie, thou'se never thrive,
As lang's* there's in thee stanes* three :
There's ane intill* the highest tower,
There's ane intill the ladye's bower,
There's ane aneath* the water-yett,
And thir* three stanes ye'se never get".

(*As lang's = as long as); (stanes = stones); (ane intill - one inside); (ane aneath = one beneath).

This is famously known as 'the curse of the weeping stones'.

Basically the root of the curse stems from the fact that three stones were taken from either the local church or parish boundary and used in the building of Fyvie. Thomas's rhyme states that until all three stones are reunited and removed from the castle, Fyvie will continue to be cursed.

To date only two stones have been recovered. One of them is on display in the Charter Room. Interestingly, many people claim that this stone can be seen oozing water, as if weeping. However, there may be a natural explanation for this.

The second stone is said to be embedded in the Ladies Bower. The third was thrown into the River Ythan and will never be recovered; therefore the curse can never be lifted.

Thomas, on the whole, would seem to have been a genuinely benign character - a mystic, prophet and poet. What caused him to act so angrily against Fyvie? Perhaps the Seer, being very old, was basically just tired and grumpy on that particular day?

The curse itself manifests in the form of the male heir never being able to inherit Fyvie castle – and this does seem to be the case on a number of occasions. Certainly if we look at the numerous times that Fyvie has changed hands over the centuries, it does beg the question why? It would seem that the great families who took over the castle were less than happy with this beautiful abode.

Fyvie Castle

There is said to be a secret room at Fyvie where a former Lady of the house had her remains buried. The room was re-sealed after it was disturbed by workmen and paranormal phenomena started to manifest.
There is said to be a secret room at Fyvie where a former Lady of the house had her remains buried. The room was re-sealed after it was disturbed by workmen and paranormal phenomena started to manifest. | Source

Curses

Do you think it's possible some curses might be real?

  • Yes I do.
  • I'm not sure.
  • No, they're just fairy stories.
See results without voting

The Supernatural and More Curses

True Thomas was not the only person who laid a curse on Fyvie. A second curse has led to the manifestation of one of the ghosts of Fyvie - the Grey Lady.

A former occupant of the castle - Lady Meldrum - who lived at the castle in the 13th century, (the same time period as Thomas), had requested that her remains be buried within the walls at Fyvie. The reason for this odd request is not known.

However it seems that a secret room was created, her remains were placed inside and the space sealed off by a wall. It’s alleged that prior to her death she had placed a curse on anyone who violated the space where she was laid to rest.

In the 1920s workmen employed to renovate the south-west corner of the castle discovered the secret room. They informed the Laird of the find and Lady Meldrum's remains were carried to the churchyard and given a proper burial.

From the time the remains were removed the castle was plagued by ghostly noises and the figure of a 'grey lady' was frequently seen. The Laird was so frightened that he returned Lady Meldrum’s remains to the secret room and ordered the workmen to re-seal it. Nevertheless, the ghost of the Grey Lady still walks the castle passages today. The curse itself is reputed to cause the death of the Laird and/or blindness to his wife.

This curse is alleged to have manifested in the past causing death and blindness but cannot be fully verified. Today, the curse is taken so seriously that the secret room remains locked.

The most famous ghost at Fyvie Castle originates from the 17th century and is thought to be Dame Lillias Drummond. This unfortunate lady was treated cruelly by her husband - Sir Alexander Seton.

Some sources state that because Dame Lillias gave birth to a family of five girls, Lord Seton decided to be rid of her for a younger bride - Lady Grizel Leslie. He hoped she would give birth to a son. It’s also reported that he was having an affair with his future bride before Dame Lillias died. In order to speed up his marriage, he locked his tragic wife into one of the upper chambers and starved to death.

The wedding night of Lord Seton and Lady Grizel was far from romantic. They were awoken abruptly in the early hours by unearthly noises. They became terrified when ghostly sighs and scratching manifested in the master bedroom where they slept. They saw nothing at all.

However, in the morning a message had been left. On the stone windowsill, scratched deeply and raggedly into it was the name - D. Lillias Drummond. What is really mysterious about the name is that it’s written upside down as if someone was on the outside writing the name down. Therefore, in order to write it or read it properly you would have to be floating in mid-air outside the window or be on a scaffold. This part of the story is not legend - the scratched out name can still be seen today.

The ghost of Lillias Drummond takes the appearance of a green lady. She has been seen by a number of visitors as a reflection in one of the great mirrors. Witnesses also claim to have seen her walking the castle's hallways.

She is by all accounts a very benevolent ghost that has never harmed anyone. It may be that she simply wants her story to be told. Some witnesses claim that the green lady will appear as a normal and attractive woman in 17th century dress.

However, many others have been shocked, claiming that her face appears skeletal - as indeed would anyone who had been starved to death. There are other sources who feel she may have died of more natural causes or a broken heart.

Another ghost to frequent Fyvie Castle is a man called Andrew Lammie. He was sold into slavery in the West Indies simply because he fell in love with Agnes, the miller's daughter. Neither her parents nor the Lord of Fyvie - who was in love with Agnes himself - thought the match a proper one. Andrew did escape from the West Indies. However, when he returned home to claim Agnes, she had died several years earlier of a broken heart. Andrew cursed them and vowed that when a trumpet sounded it would signify the deaths of the Lords of Fyvie. It has been reported by a number of witnesses, over a long period of time, that a trumpet was heard to play several times when a lord of Fyvie was dying. An apparition has also been seen of a young man standing outside the boundary walls, dressed in fine tartans - could this be Andrew?

I hope you’ve enjoyed this hub about Fyvie Castle and if you ever get a chance it’s well worth visiting. In addition, if you have any of your own stories to share about Fyvie or any other location let me know in the comments.

© 2011 Helen Murphy Howell

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Comments 27 comments

Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 5 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

Excellent information. I'd love to tour and visit Scotland.


Trish 5 years ago

Bloody Brilliant !!! xx


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

Fascinating. Well researched and well written. Rated up and awesome.


Rob Hanlon profile image

Rob Hanlon 5 years ago from Epicentre of everywhere

Well written, informative Hub ~ told me things I would not have otherwise have come across.

Well done Seeker7

.


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

Hi seeker7 fasinating information about Fyvie castle, I would certainly love to visit it one day, many thanks for a great hub.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 5 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

1. Hi Wesman, many thanks for stopping by and really glad you enjoyed the hub. I think you would enjoy Scotland.

2. Hi Sis!! Thanks for stopping by - will need to get back onto Facebook to catch up. Will see you soon!

3.Hi KoffeKlatch Gals - many thanks for your lovely comment. It really is appreciated and nice to hear from you again.

4. Hi Rob, many thanks for stopping by and for leaving such a nice comment. Glad that you found the subject interesting. Always nice to hear from you.

5. Hi Movie Master - really glad that you enjoyed the hub - I have to say that I had loads of fun writing it!! I love curses and a good old spook! LOL. If you get the chance to visit do go, you will love it I promise.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

A great hub and thanks for sharing.

We were in Scotland last week and it was my first visit.

I now look forward to reading more of your hubs.

Take care

Eiddwen.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 5 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Eiddwen,

Lovely to hear from you and many thanks for sharing your comment. Hope the weather wasn't too bad for you???? It's been atrocious everywhere I think.


Margaret Murphy profile image

Margaret Murphy 5 years ago

voted up and awesome


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 5 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Margaret, many thanks for stopping by and for voting up the hub. Really glad you enjoyed it.


seriousnuts profile image

seriousnuts 5 years ago from Philippines

Hi Seeker7,

I've always loved reading your hubs. They are very interesting and spooky at the same time. I've always wanted to go to Scotland and visit some wonderful castles there. The stories of Fyvie Castle are spooky especially about the scratched out name. I can't imagine it still exists there, which only shows that those stories weren't just made up. Nice hub! Voted up and rated beautiful.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 5 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Seriousnuts -

It's always great to hear from you and likewise I find your hubs very stimulating and informative. I'm really glad you enjoyed the hub and as you say, a bit spooky. I think when I first heard about Dame Lillias's name being scratched on the sill many years ago, it sent shivers down my spine - and it still does today.

Thank you so much for your kind words and for stopping by. Hope we will talk again soon.


Clairepeek profile image

Clairepeek 5 years ago

Hey Seeker7,

As they say, you had me at 'hello' ^_^. I love that kind of stories even though I could be categorized as a sceptic... true or not, you brought a smile on my face and made me extra curious. Your way of telling - or dare I say selling - the story of that place is fantastic.

Scotland is one of the many destinations my husband and I wish to head for - when we can afford it. I will surely remember Fyvie Caslte.

Great hub!

/Claire


Bethany Culpepper 5 years ago

Love it! Makes me want to visit for sure. I enjoy reading about the history of a place before visiting. Thanks for the info!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 5 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

1. - Hi Claire!! LOL! You have put a smile on my face as well with your wonderful comment. Thank you. Maybe it is 'telling' a story while subconciously 'selling' it? Who knows! Anyway, Fyvie Castle is definitely one of those places that you never forget. Sure it has good ghost stories, but it doesn't rely on them as a selling point. It doesn't have to, as it has so much else to offer. I really hope you and your husband do get to Scotland one day, I think you will really enjoy yourself - as long as you can put up with the midges and the weather of course. LOL. Many thanks for stopping by.

2. Hi Bethany, many thanks for stopping by and for your lovely comment. I have to say that Fyvie has to be one of the easiest places to write about as it has so much going for it. It's also a place that I never get tired of learning more about. I hope you do get to Fyvie Castle, I don't think you'll be disappointed. Many thanks for stopping by.


catgypsy profile image

catgypsy 5 years ago from the South

Fascinating Hub!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 5 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi catgypsy, great to hear from you and many thanks for stopping by. Glad that you enjoyed the hub.


Ddraigcoch profile image

Ddraigcoch 5 years ago from UK

I adore reading information, history and stories of old historic areas and buildings. I could not stop reading. I love this hub.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 5 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Ddraigcoch,

Thank you for leaving such a lovely comment! I'm really glad that you enjoyed the hub. Many thanks for taking the time to stop by it was great to hear from you.


moonlake profile image

moonlake 5 years ago from America

Would love to go to Scotland and see all the old castles. Enjoyed your hub.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 5 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi moonlake,

Great to hear from you again. I think you would love Fyvie Castle. It is so well preserved and even if you don't manage to see any of the ghosts there are more than enough interests to keep visitors going.


nighthag profile image

nighthag 5 years ago from Australia

My fathers family orginates in scotland and I have always dreamed of travelling there myself one day, this was a great read that has only my dream more compelling

thankyou :)


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 5 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi nighthag,

Many thanks for stopping by and for leaving such a nice comment. I always think that if we dream long enough something good will come out of it. So here's hoping your dream will be fulfilled.


Skylar Spring profile image

Skylar Spring 5 years ago from New York

Wow, this is fascinating! My husband has been to Scotland to learn of his ancestry there, he says the history is rich and the castles are incredible. He wants to take me there, as I love history. After reading this I am eager to go. Wonderful hub!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 5 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Skylar Spring,

Lovely to hear from you and many thanks for leaving such a nice comment. I really hope that you do visit Scotland at some point I think you would love it - I love history as well, especially ancient history, so I feel very lucky to live where I do as we are kind of spoilt here in this respect. Many thanks again for stopping by and I look forward to reading more of your own work.


Bradfordsmarket profile image

Bradfordsmarket 4 years ago

My great great garndfather William Pittendreigh was the castle gardner

in 1871


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 4 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Bradfordsmarket, many thanks for stopping by!

Wow! Now that is an interesting comment about your great, great, Grandfather! I would do any kind of work if it meant being able to work either inside or in the grounds of this beautiful place. I'm sure your great, great Grandfather would have worked very hard but I think it would also have been an enjoyable job!

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