Scotland's Most Haunted Houses
"All houses wherein men have lived and died Are haunted houses.
Through the open doors
The harmless phantoms on their errands glide,
With feet that make no sound upon the floors."
(by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)
Whenever anyone thinks about ghosts their mind usually conjures up images of a haunted house. It's the most common location people think about in relation to the paranormal and with good reason.
It would seem that the more history a location has, the more likely it is to have some form of paranormal activity. Castles of course have wonderful histories but let's not overlook the historic mansions of the world - and in relation to this article, those in Scotland. In many cases, historic houses rival anything a castle can offer.
Dalzell House and Leith Hall
"We meet them at the door-way, on the stair,
Along the passages they come and go,
Impalpable impressions on the air,
A sense of something moving to and fro"
(By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)
Dalzell House - North Lanarkshire, Scotland
Dalzell House - pronounced 'di-yell', as well as a few other pronunciations - is located south of the town of Motherwell. The oldest part - the tower house - dates to the 15th century and the building was extensively restored in the 1980s.
The Dalzell family acquired the surrounding lands in the 13th century. The family became 'Lords' in 1628 with Lord Dalzell and finally 'Earls' in 1639 as the Earls of Carnwath. Their fortunes, as with any prosperous family, were good and bad over the centuries. However, in Dalzell House, it seems that it's the females who remain to haunt the property.
The three female ghosts at the house are one each of the classic apparition colours - a 'white' lady, a 'grey' lady and a 'green' lady. The ghosts haunt different areas of the house or grounds.
The green lady is said to haunt the south wing and one of the most vivid sightings was witnessed by a young boy. The youngster was shocked when the ghost emerged out off wood panelling on the wall and continued into the area of the house known as the 'piper's gallery'. He not only described her colour as 'green' but that she also had blood-shot eyes. The child was obviously very frightened by his experience. Security guards at the property also saw the ghost along with strange flashing lights and footsteps. The guard dogs are reported to act oddly in the area where she walks, barking at a seemingly empty room and refusing to go over the threshold. The rumours about the green lady is that she may have been murdered, alternatively she committed suicide. As yet what her real story is, remains a mystery.
The white lady is said to walk around the entire estate of Dalzell House and has been reported in various locations. This ghost is thought to come from the period of the 18th century. There are two stories to account for the white lady ghost. One that she was a maid at the house who committed suicide by jumping off one of the high towers. She is said to have landed in the rock-filled gorge of Whinney Burn. An alternative story is that she had been walled up within the house. In connection with the white lady is the the age old story of an unmarried mother to be being abandoned by her lover and unable to cope with the shame of having an illegitimate baby.
The third ghost, the grey lady, seems to be a more modern phantom. When this ghost is seen witnesses describe her as wearing a 'grey' coloured uniform, very similar to the army nurses, from the World War I era. This would make sense as Dalzell House - the northern wing - was used as a military hospital during the first world war. Why this ghostly nurse should still haunt the location is not known.
Leith Hall, Nr Kennethmont, Aberdeenshire
Leith Hall started off as a three level tower house in 1650 and was extensively added to over the centuries. It was home to the Leith and Leith-Hay families for many centuries before finally being handed over to the National Trust for Scotland in 1945.
The Leith's are thought to have originated from France around the 14th century, landing at Leith Port in Edinburgh, and this is where it is thought they took their name from. The family have all had strong associations with the military and were a major force in supporting Bonnie Prince Charlie during the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion.
There are numerous accounts of paranormal activity that occurr at Leith Hall. There are reports by guests of apparitions in the bedrooms. There are also accounts of a ghostly party taking place with laughter and voices but on investigating, all the rooms are empty.
One of the main ghosts said to haunt the house is John Leith who has appeared numerous times with a bandaged head. He was shot in the year of 1763, either during a fight at a local tavern or some suggest that it was a dual. He didn't die immediately, but three days later on Christmas Day. His spirit is said to manifest usually around the main staircase, where witnesses report the apparition wearing a bandage on his head covered in blood.
People have also reported the ghostly laughter of children coming from the bedrooms. Another apparition is that of a distressed woman who paces the corridors, wringing her hands constantly. Other phenomena experienced are the sounds of footsteps, banging doors and strange, inexplicable odours. There has also been the sound of ghostly bagpipes heard in the building.
In the grounds of Leith Hall is a very old tree and psychics have picked up energies of many people dying around this specific area. This old tree was in fact called a 'duel tree' and was where the Laird of the land would dispense justice - as such the tree was used for numerous hangings.
Provan Hall Glasgow, Dowsing Rods Experiment
Provan Hall and Hopetoun House
"There are more guests at table than the hosts Invited;
the illuminated hall Is thronged with quiet, inoffensive ghosts,
As silent as the pictures on the wall."
(By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)
Provan Hall, Glasgow
Provan Hall is not only a historical gem but a very haunted location. It's one of the best examples in Scotland of a fortified, medieval country house. The building dates back to the 15th century - probably at least 1471 or older - and may have been a royal hunting lodge for King James IV as some historical sources show him owning lands in the area. Since then it's had numerous owners, finally coming into the hands of the National Trust for Scotland.
Just beside Provan Hall is another old building - Blochairn House - and this is also said to be haunted. What is interesting is that the ghost in Blochairn House is said to be that of the last private owner of both Provan Hall and Blochairn - Reston Mather - who died in 1934.
In Provan Hall itself, a number of different ghosts have been seen in the house and in the grounds. However, it would seem that the master bedroom is the area with the strongest paranormal activity. This is not surprising when we learn of the history that occurred in this particular area. This bedroom is said to have been the scene of a horrific double murder approximately 200 years ago.
A soldier who had been abroad for a few years returned to find that his wife had a two year old son - he of course was not the father. After he got drunk, he went to the bedroom where he stabbed his wife repeatedly and cut the child's throat. Paranormal investigators believe that all three involved in the incident still haunt the area where the murder took place.
People have reported the room feeling very heavy and oppressive and sensitives have picked up on the spirit of the murdered mother, hiding in one of the corners of the bedroom. Other sensations reported are feelings of being pulled, cold spots and overwhelming feelings of sadness.
On a scarier note, one paranormal group who were investigating the attic caught an EVP (electronic voice phenomena) of a growling sound that seemed to be directed at the group.
Hopetoun House, South Queensferry, Nr Edinburgh.
The first portion of the house was built between 1699-1707. In 1727 the building was greatly extended by architect William Adam. For over 300 years this location has been the ancestral home of the Hope family. The Marquess of Linlithgow and Earl of Hopetoun, still live on the estate.
There are numerous accounts of ghosts and other paranormal activity at this location. At least one of the ghosts was recognised by a present member of staff as one of the old coach drivers who worked at the house over a hundred years before.
The paranormal investigation team, 'Ghost Finders, Scotland' caught very bizarre anomalies on camera, while in the restaurant area - this was formerly the stables. One photograph resembled a 'string of pink orbs', another showed a large black mass/shape that couldn't be accounted for. The word 'no' was also discovered written on one of the windows. In addition, the team experienced significant fluctuations of the compass they were carrying, indicating that a source of energy was present. EVP's taken by the team also recorded a voice saying 'forgive me'.
During a séance carried out the team experienced footsteps and moving shadows. A locked off camera in the 'old stables' only worked for 10 minutes when the battery was unexplainably drained. Other phenomena witnessed and caught on tape are unexplained bangs and other noises.
A member of staff who had to go to the bathroom experienced the lights suddenly going out. The emergency back up-lights came on and it was then that he witnessed a ghostly figure standing behind him reflected in the mirror.
Apart from the coach driver recognised by a member of staff, investigations continue to find out who the other ghosts are at Hopetoun House.
If you were going on a ghost hunt which house would you choose to investigate?
"The stranger at my fireside cannot see The forms I see,
nor hear the sounds I hear;
He but perceives what is;
while unto me All that has been is visible and clear.
We have no title-deeds to house or lands;
Owners and occupants of earlier dates
From graves forgotten stretch their dusty hands,
And hold in mortmain still their old estates.
The spirit-world around this world of sense Floats like an atmosphere,
and everywhere Wafts through these earthly mists and vapours dense
A vital breath of more ethereal air."
(By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)
I hope you've enjoyed some of these historic houses and the ghosts that haunt them. There is a saying that 'every town has a haunted house' and this might well be true. Therefore, why not nose around your own neighbourhood - you might be surprised at the history and of course the ghosts you might discover?