The Ghosts of Mary, Queen of Scots

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This is a poem written by Mary Queen of Scots in Fotheringhay Castle as she awaited execution.

Alas what am I? What use has my life?
I am but a body whose heart's torn away,
A vain shadow, an object of misery
Who has nothing left but death-in-life.
O my enemies, set your envy all aside;
I've no more eagerness for high domain;
I've borne too long the burden of my pain
To see your anger swiftly satisfied.
And you, my friends who have loved me so true,
Remember, lacking health and heart and peace,
There is nothing worthwhile that I can do;
Ask only that my misery should cease
And that, being punished in a world like this,
I have my portion in eternal bliss.

Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, remains an enigma. Some of the information about her is accurate, some probably so, much is conjecture - perhaps to fit in with an image already formed by centuries of hearsay and rumour.

However, Mary’s spirit that ,allegedly walks in so many places, seems to be a fragmented assortment of guesses and gossip. Nevertheless, let’s have a closer look at the stories surrounding the hauntings.

The Great Hall of Stirling Castle - does Mary, Queen of Scots haunt here?
The Great Hall of Stirling Castle - does Mary, Queen of Scots haunt here? | Source
Borthwick Castle - Queen Mary is said to have dressed as a page boy to escape from the castle. It was also a location that she knew well, since she had been a guest here many times.
Borthwick Castle - Queen Mary is said to have dressed as a page boy to escape from the castle. It was also a location that she knew well, since she had been a guest here many times. | Source
It's possible that Mary Queen of Scots does haunt Lochleven Castle, due to the trauma she suffered here.
It's possible that Mary Queen of Scots does haunt Lochleven Castle, due to the trauma she suffered here. | Source

Interesting facts about Mary, Queen of Scots


Did you know?

  • Mary was born in December 1542 at the Palace of Linlithgow.
  • Mary was crowned Queen of Scots at Stirling Castle when she was only 6 days old. She was the only legitimate heir of King James V of Scots, who had just died. Mary's mother, Mary de Guise, was a highborn French lady and was elected as Regent of Scotland until her daughter was old enough to rule.
  • Mary was very tall - almost 6 feet in height. Although the contemporary portraits show an attractive woman, by all accounts they do not do her justice at all. She was reported by people who met her - including her enemies - that she was not only stunningly beautiful but had a charm and magnetism that was almost impossible to ignore.


Scottish Hauntings

There are many locations throughout the UK where Mary's ghost has been reported by witnesses.

We start with some of the Scottish locations:


Stirling Castle: Stirling

There are two interesting female ghosts at Stirling Castle witnessed by numerous people. One is said to be that of Mary and this ghost is referred to as the 'Pink Lady'. The second ghost is called the 'Green Lady'. This is reported to be the ghost of a servant woman of Mary's.

History relates how this serving woman saved the Queen's life from being burned to death.

While Mary slept, the bed curtains and canopy of the four-poster bed was set alight by a candle. Mary was unaware of the danger and it was the serving woman who noticed the smoke and managed to waken the Queen in time and help her to safety.

Both the pink lady and the green lady have been observed walking in various parts of Stirling Castle.

It’s difficult to say if either of these ladies are Queen Mary. Perhaps due to the trauma of the fire, her residual energy remains?


Borthwick Castle: Midlothian

During one of Mary's many escapes from capture she is said to have dressed as a page boy. This is the ghost that is said to haunt Borthwick Castle in Midlothian. Mary dressed in boy's clothing and was able to escape from the castle in this disguise.

The ghost of a tall page boy with feminine features is said to haunt this castle and it is thought that it is in fact Mary.


Loch Leven Castle: Kinross

Mary was imprisoned here for quite sometime. It was only on her second attempt that she finally made her escape from this castle, situated on an island in the centre of Loch Leven.

Her ghost is said to walk around the now ruined remains and part of the island itself. If Mary’s residual energy or her spirit is present at Lochleven this might not be too surprising. Her emotions were in turmoil during her imprisonment here, not just because of being held captive, but she also pregnant with twins, but suffered a miscarriage.


Craignethan Castle: Glasgow

Some of the reports from this castle say that the headless ghost of Mary walks the grounds. The ghost is alleged to be recognisable because of the design and colour of the dress. This apparition is said to have first appeared shortly after Mary's execution. However, it is rather strange, if it is indeed Mary, that she should choose this sight to haunt. No other sightings of her report this peculiarity.

Linlithgow Palace where Mary, Queen of Scots was born. There are no sightings of Mary's ghost at this location, as far as I know.
Linlithgow Palace where Mary, Queen of Scots was born. There are no sightings of Mary's ghost at this location, as far as I know. | Source
Turbury Castle one of the locations where Mary, Queen of Scots was held prisoner. It's also one of the best locations for credible eye-witness accounts of seeing Mary's spirit.
Turbury Castle one of the locations where Mary, Queen of Scots was held prisoner. It's also one of the best locations for credible eye-witness accounts of seeing Mary's spirit. | Source

Interesting facts about Mary, Queen of Scots

Did you Know?


  • Mary was highly intelligent and received a superb education. She spoke several languages including French, Scots, Greek, Latin, Italian, Spanish and English. She could also play several musical instruments, sang beautifully. She was also reputed to be knowledgeable about science. Mary was also an excellent needlewoman and excelled at sports - especially hawking and golf. She was also an expert horse rider.
  • Mary's preferred language during her life was French – this is due to the fact that she was brought up at the French Royal Court from the age of five years of age until she was 18. She used the French spelling of her surname - Stuart - instead of the Scottish spelling - Stewart. She also signed her name as the French 'Mari' instead of Mary.
  • It is true that Mary, for most of her life, had at least four ladies-in-waiting all named Mary after her. The four Mary's all belonged to some of the noblest families in Scotland. They were Mary Fleming, Mary Livingstone, Mary Seaton and Mary Beaton. There may have been two more according to historians - Mary Carmichael and Mary Hamilton.

Hauntings in English castles

Mary spent about 19 years in captivity in England, transferring to many different locations during that time. Some of them are alleged to be haunted by her.


Fotheringhay Castle: Northamptonshire

Fotheringhay Castle - the place of Mary's execution - is now no more than a few bricks and a mound where the castle once stood.

However there are two artefacts from the castle still in existence.

The first is a wooden chair that is now situated in the nearby Fotheringhay Church - the church has survived intact unlike the castle. This is the chair that Mary is thought to have arisen from when moving forward to be executed.

Although we have no accounts of her ghost near this chair. The same can't be said for an oak wooden staircase and stone work rescued from the castle and used to build the nearby Talbot Hotel. This staircase is the one that Mary would have walked down, from her apartments, into the great hall where her execution took place.

Her ghost has been seen on many occasions on or walking down the staircase. She has been witnessed standing near to the reception counter and at a stone window surround - this stone work was taken from Fotheringhay. Her ghost was recognised because of the famous white cap and veil that Mary most often wore.

Once again this is a feasible case of a residual haunting. If we go with the ‘stone-tape’ theory that powerful emotions can be recorded like a video, become trapped in stone and the replayed under certain conditions. If we think about the strong emotions she would have felt leading up to and on the day of her execution, then it’s she could have left an imprint of her last days at Fotheringhay, trapped in the stones or wood that still exists.


Tutbury Castle: Staffordshire

It is well documented that Mary loathed Tutbury Castle. The stress she felt when at this castle, may well have affected her physical health, as it’s reported that she suffered a lot while in prison here.

Mary's ghost still haunts this gruesome, semi-ruined castle. To the present day she has been observed by many different people in various locations.

One of the best documented sightings happened in 2004 when she was seen by about 40 men of Her Majesty's Services. A figure dressed in white was observed very clearly standing at the top of the South Tower of Tutbury -witnesses described her as a good likeness to Mary.

Another impressive sighting took place on a lovely summer’s day, when a serving Marine saw Mary walk quickly across the grass and then disappear.

The window of the Great Hall is also an area where Mary has been seen on numerous occasions. As people are leaving the castle they have reported seeing the figure of a beautiful woman dressed in black looking down at them from this window.

She was also seen by a group of highly respected archaeologists working within Tutbury a few years ago.

The witnesses to these events are many and it’s highly likely that Mary’s spirit may well haunt Tutbury. It could be asked why she should choose to visit a place that she loathed? According to some sources, when we pass on into the spirit world then we are meant to learn from our life experience just passed. It could be that Mary returns to Tutbury in order to fulfil this obligation or perhaps it’s the sheer joy of visiting this former prison with the knowledge it can no longer hold her captive.

Mary, Queen of Scots aged about 18 years.
Mary, Queen of Scots aged about 18 years. | Source
Mary, Queen of Scots in the classic gown and headwear strongly associated with her. This portrait was painted during her years of captivity in England.
Mary, Queen of Scots in the classic gown and headwear strongly associated with her. This portrait was painted during her years of captivity in England. | Source

Conclusions

The story of the tragic and beautiful Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots will continue to be told for centuries to come.

As to Mary’s spirit - is it possible that she could haunt so many locations? The answer could be yes.

It’s possible that many of the sightings of Mary are residual energy apparitions. This means that it is not Mary's spirit being viewed, but simply a replay of an action she carried out when alive. These apparitions cannot hear or see anyone - the same as actors in a movie can't interact with the audience watching them.

It’s also possible that Mary’s spirit may visit certain locations that had powerful associations for her when she was alive. This is made possible, so I understand, because spirit energy is basically free to go where it wants.

At the end of the day it’s up to you to decide what is possible and the paranormal researchers will continue to look for the proof that we all desperately want.


© 2011 Helen Murphy Howell

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Comments 28 comments

Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

This fascinating piece you have put together is excellent. I enjoyed reading every word.

Hard to believe that she could appear in so many different locations.

Well written and presented.

Voting up


CMHypno profile image

CMHypno 5 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

Well she is certainly a spirit that likes getting around a bit? Interesting hub on the hauntings of Mary Queen of Scots, Seeker7


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 5 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Rosemay - thank you so much for your wonderful comment! I actually wasn't sure whether or not to even write this hub, as so much has already been written about Mary, so I'm really glad that you enjoyed it so much.

Many thanks for the visit as usual it is always lovely to hear from you.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 5 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi CMHypno,

many thanks for stopping by and glad that you enjoyed the hub. Yes, I think it is very strange how she is seen in so many varied locations. Her spirit does seem to be lingering more though in the places where she was a prisoner - maybe reflecting the strong emotions she must have went through?


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

Wonderful, fascinating hub on Mary Queen of Scots, it was quite a life, 19 years imprisonment, 3 marriages, hardly any wonder she may not rest in peace!

As always excellently presented, voting up and thank you for sharing.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 5 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Movie Master,

Great, as usual, to hear from you and many thanks for leaving such a lovely comment - much appreciated!

She did indeed have a hectic and dangerous life! Mary was by no means all perfect - she did some very silly things in her life - but I reckon she did deserve better than she got. Having said that, I think, like many historians feel, that if Elizabeth-I, could have found any other way to deal with Mary, other than execution then she would have done so. I think as well, that had Mary had the dangerous and sorrowful upbringing as a child that Elizabeth had to cope with, it would have been more of a benefit to her in later life. As it was Mary lived a sheltered dream life for most of the time in France, and basically on return to Scotland at 18 had no idea how to compete with many of the ruthless and ambitious Scottish Lords. I think Mary does have a lot of healing going on.

Many thanks again MM for your visit!!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

This is a fascinating hub, Seeker7. I've been interested in Mary Queen of Scots since childhood and frequently looked at the third picture in your hub, which was in my favorite history book. I was thinking about residual energy as I read your description of all the places that Mary has been seen since her death. I agree, though, this couldn't be an explanation for the cases in which the apparition interacts with people. Thanks for the information.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 5 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Alicia,

Lovely to hear from you and thanks for stopping by.

I'm the same. I've always been interested in Mary Queen of Scots - I don't think even yet that we have come close to discovering who she really was as a person. She will be, like most of us, very complex.

I agree with you about the residual energy. I think most of her apparitions will be just that, as she doesn't seem to see or react with anyone. But the cases like the Nappa Hall are fascinating and can't be just residual.

Really glad that you enjoyed the hub and many thanks for leaving a comment!


Slightly Bonkers profile image

Slightly Bonkers 5 years ago from Ireland

Great article! I really love old history and I suppose THE TUDORS Series has kicked most of it off. One might debate how close to the truth the series was but however what do we really know other than what was written and some of it might be not as accurate as some of the writers head might have been at stake.... and I mean this literally ;)

Scotland is great and I have never been there. I hope to visit next year and see some of yer great castles and towns.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 5 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hey Slightly Bonkers,

Great to hear from you and glad that you liked the hub!

I agree with you about TV drama/docs - often it is the script writers/directors etc. interpretation of events rather than what did happen. But I also agree that in those days people who wrote the wrong things could end up losing their lives. So it might be the case with history that we have to go with what is most likely to have happened rather than knowing for a fact.

Thanks again for your visit and your great comment - very interesting point you've made!


Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 5 years ago from Riga, Latvia

Just fascinating. I believe in the paranormal and I do believe that Mary is one spirit I would like to meet. Thanks for the fascinating information.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 5 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Gypsy, great to hear from you and glad that you enjoyed the hub on Mary.

I agree, I would love to meet her and let her tell her side of the story about everything. I think much of what is written about her personality is just guesswork.


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 5 years ago from The Midwest, USA

Seeker, this is an incredible hub. I truly enjoyed reading it, and love the history surrounding that time. It's a very sad story, and its really rather rough being royalty as we see all too often. I had no idea though about all the ghosts and sitings of Mary!

Excellent hub, I really enjoyed reading it. Thanks for sharing.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 5 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Oceanssunsets,

Many thanks for the visit - I'm still mulling over your fabulous hub about 11:11 - very interesting stuff!!

Anyway, glad that you enjoyed the hub about Queen Mary - yes it is a sad and tragic story and I agree I think it was tough, especially back then being royal and being a woman!

Many thanks again for the visit!


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

Amazing my friend.

You are an amazing teacher and I am bookmarking this one as well as voting up.

It is only in the last few years that my interest in History has been born and I have learnt so much since joining here.

Actually if I begin to carry on about all the good things that have come about since joining here I will be here all day Ha ha!!!

Take care and have a wonderful weekend.

Eiddwen.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 5 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Eiddwen - as always, it's a delight to hear from you.

Glad that you enjoyed the hub and that you have found history. At school history didn't really do anything for me, I found it tedious - textbook history always is. But it was actually historical novels that got me interested in what I call 'real history' - the stuff that I really wanted to learn about. I know that the industrial revolution, run-rig systems of farming and the ecomonic history of a country etc., are important, but let's face it, it's dead boring!! I wanted to know about the people, the scandal, their love lives, the dresses they wore and yes, their ghosts!!LOL!

I agree with you about Hub Pages and I'm the same, I would be hear for a month stating all I have found, learned and enjoyed from this site - so I guess we should both leave it at that and get on with some writing!!LOL!! Great to hear from you again!


houseclearance profile image

houseclearance 5 years ago from Preston, Lancashire

a very interesting hub on Mary queen of scots, i like my history and i like your hub


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 5 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hello to you houseclearance - lovely to hear from you and glad that you enjoyed the hub. I am a fan of history as well - I like ancient history in particular.

Glad that you enjoyed the hub and many thanks for the visit and for leaving a comment!


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 5 years ago from North Carolina

Seeker I looked at the picture slide first and its an awesome collection. Many of them are new here. And Mary's poem is new as well. As a matter of fact- although I've read a good bit on Mary- much of what you've written is fresh. its simply amazing that her ghost has been seen in all those castles and Holyrood Palace. How intriguing about Rizzio's blood stain there. Some great facts like Mary's real appearance in life: very tall for her day, a stunning red-haired beauty. Fotheringhay Castle Oooh! Would you sit in that chair Seeker? You could well be correct about the re-plays as a possible answer. Remember those two ladies from around 1900 who saw Versailles in Marie Antoinette's day. Seeker, another superb paranormal hub. I always look forward to yours, thoroughly enjoy em!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 5 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Alastar,

Lovely to hear from you.

As to Mary's chair - I honestly think I would be very tempted!! LOL! However, I wouldn't really fancy picking up the emotions that Mary must have been going through. She was a very brave lady, but the emotions inside must have been horrendous - perhaps relief mixed in with fear/anger/loss? No one knows except for Mary herself. The staircase as well really interests me - again what emotions might be trapped within this structure??

But the only time I have felt close to Mary was at Lochleven Castle. Loch Leven is actually just over Benarty and Dunmore Hills from my village so we have made a few visits to the island over the years. The last visit was beautiful sunshine, calm and relaxing. But every time I go to the castle the intense feeling of being watched is almost over whelming. I'm not saying this is Mary of course, but something or some one other than the Queen may well be present. But getting back to the castle, when I sit near the semi-ruined tower, and at the apartment where Mary stayed while imprisoned, you do get a strong feeling of the history of the place and of her presence. This could of course all be suggestion and just a love of history, but nevertheless it all adds to the experience.

I remember Versailles and the two ladies. Fascinating! It is one of those incidents that people have tried desperately to de-bunk and haven't managed it at all.

Great to hear from you Alastar and I'll catch up with more of your own work soon. Take care!


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 5 years ago from Shelton

This was a wonderful Hub-- Seeker you really pulled it off.. Loved it in every way it inspires...really


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 5 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hello Frank - lovely to hear from you!

Glad that you enjoyed the hub - this was an easy one for me this time, as I've been fascinated with Mary and her life from a very young age. It's amazing how quickly you can research and write when you love your subject!

My thanks again for stopping by and for leaving such a lovely comment - much appreciated!


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

Seeker7 - Your hub name suits you well. I also read every word of your hub, hungrily. So many facets of the story to ponder! I love history and around Mary's time, it was especially volatile and important. Whether or not the historians - or the entertainment media - accurately report or even KNOW it, it is a trail to pursue and consider. There're no guarantees that the official history or reports of the 20th century events are accurate truth, much less those of centuries before when the only means of recording was by hand with primitive instruments, needing to be re-copied over and over to survive the ravages of time.=. If nothing else, the 'facts' of which we're aware are filtered through the subjective perceptions of the historians and reporters (and ghost-spotters). Whether or not they have hidden agendas at work directing their interpretations, they do have subjectivity, inescapably. One can accept or question. No real facts are changed.

I admire Mary and your wonderful account of happenings of her life - and since her death - really fill out some gaps for me in my perception of her. I loved the "Elizabeth" series and felt sad for poor Mary as portrayed in it. Her ghastly death was the culmination, but she seemed to have been deprived and denied real life for long before it. Of course it was highly fictionalized but still, very interesting. It led me to do more research, but obviously mine was merely cursory. Means more to pursue.

Thank you for the follow and for writing so well!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 5 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Dear Nellieanna,

Many thanks for taking the time to visit the hub and for leaving such a wonderful comment - it does mean a lot to me.

I agree about what the 'official' stories, not just of Mary, but many from history really are. In particular what they were like in private, the real person. We will never know this, so conjecture is all we have.

I know Mary made many silly mistakes in her time - but which one of us can claim not to have done so? But for me she is still a remarakable woman and queen who was probably born in the wrong time - I always did feel that her outlook, in particular her tolerance of people's beliefs, was far too modern for her age. Lastly, she was a spirited and active lady and for her prison would have been a hell on earth. One way or another Mary was determined to escape I think. Either way, I'm sure she felt she couldn't loose. She would either escape and claim back her crown or escape through death. Any of the two were acceptable to her and the courage she showed at her execution proves, to me at least, that she accepted death, as readily as she would have accepted her crown back.

Many thanks again for stopping by and for your lovely comment.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

You've stimulated my awareness of this regal lady and I am impressed. Thank you! Perfection is not a requirement for any human endeavor. Otherwise, none of us would succeed!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 5 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Dear Nellieanna,

Thankfully perfection is not a requirement - but I think we all spend at least a little of our life looking for this either in ourselve or others. The reality can come as a shock that no one is perfect - especially those that we love. But with that shock, sometimes, comes the freedom to be able to accept what things are rather than strive for unreality.

You are a very perceptive and wise lady indeed!


thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 4 years ago from West Virginia

WOW! Voted up and all across but funny. You put the work in on this one Seeker. What a great story and article. I believe in the paranormal and I wouldn't doubt these sightings. Class A article. Have a Merry Christmas:)


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 4 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hey! Hi to you TLW! Lovely to hear from you and glad that you enjoyed the hub!! Many thanks as well for the lovely comment. I think Mary is just as fascinating in death as she was in life and she does seem to be about quite a lot!LOL! I'd love to see a ghost of someone famous, mostly so that I could see exactly what they did look like rather than relying on those odd portraits that have been painted!

It's not long now until Christmas - I don't know whose more excited the nieces and nephews or the dogs!!LOL!! Anyway, here's wishing you and your family a lovely Christmas!

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