- Religion and Philosophy
Scottish Hauntings - Ghostly Women
“The lawn is pressed by unseen feet and
ghosts return gently at twilight, gently go at dawn,
the sad intangible who grieve and yearn....”
(Extract from a letter by T.S. ELIOT to Walter de la Mare)
White, blue, grey, green and even pink ones! Women who haunt come in all shapes and colours.Their reasons for haunting are as diverse as the locations they are found in. Indeed female ghosts are found all over the world and are one of the most common forms of paranormal manifestation.
One aspect that links these spirits is the power of the emotions before death. Could it be that these intense feelings are the reason they linger on the earthly plane?
Murder and mayhem
“They say that shadows of deceased ghosts
do haunt the houses and the graves about,
of such whose life's lamp went untimely out,
delighting still in their forsaken hosts.”
The female ghosts in the following stories certainly had their 'life's lamp' put out sooner that they would have wished.
Kittie Rankie - Abergeldie Castle, Ballater, Aberdeenshire:
Kittie was also known as 'French Kate' - her birthplace obviously being France. It was while Kittie was working as a castle servant that she fell foul of the lady of the house. This resulted in Kittie being charged and executed for witchcraft.
The stories about the castle state that when the lady of the house asked the question – “Where is my husband?” Kittie replied that he was with another woman. This apparently sent the lady of the house into a rage. She took her anger out on poor Kittie and her put into one of the castle dungeons where she was held during her trial and her execution. Kittie was put to death on the hillside above the castle. Her ghost is a silent and sad figure that is seen roaming the area around the castle and also near the hill where she was executed. Her ghost has also been witnessed in the dark dungeons where she spent her last days.
Kitties has also has been seen, numerous times, in the clock tower. It is said that the bell will toll whenever death or misfortune is about to strike the family of Abergeldie Castle.
Lady Anne Douglas - Drumlanrig Castle, Dumfries and Galloway:
One of the most puzzling hauntings is one that may be the ghost of Lady Anne Douglas. Her apparition has been witnessed a few times and always appearing as if her head had been severed.
However, there are no public records of an execution or murder haven taken place at Drumlanrig. Nevertheless this doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen.
People have suggested that she could have been the victim of either a private execution that would be hidden from public scrutiny. Alternatively she could be a murder victim.
Intriguingly another story associated with Drumlanrig says that there is an area in the castle known as the 'bloody hallway'. This is where a murder is alleged to have happened and the blood stains remained no matter how often the floor was scrubbed.
The identity of the victim is unknown but many researchers favour Lady Anne. However, there is a further complication for the researchers. What Lady Anne was executed or murdered?
There have been a couple of women with the name Anne at the castle, but it’s thought it could be a lady who resided there in the 17th century.
Spirit Screaming - Carleton Castle (ruins) Lendalfoot, Ayrshire:
The screaming of a spirit is not the work of one female ghost but several. They are thought to be the murdered wives of a lord of the castle who was believed to be insane.
Each wife in turn was pushed off the nearby cliffs where she fell to her death. However, this lord of the castle finally met with a wife who was determined to survive. Wife number eight pushed his lordship off the same cliff from which his other wives had been so brutally shoved.
The mad lord is thought to be Sir John Cathcart - described as the ‘Scottish Bluebeard’. The wife who survived him was brave Mary Kennedy from Culzean Castle, who finding out his intention to murder her as he did his previous wives, managed to push him from the cliffs to his death.
Janet Dalrymple - Baldoon Castle, Bladnoch, Galloway:
Janet is said to haunt Baldoon Castle perhaps out of guilt or because of a love that she lost.
Janet lived in the 17th century; the exact year is not clarified. One September, Janet was forced by her parents to abandon the man she loved in order to marry Sir David Dunbar of Baldoon. Janet had actually become betrothed to a penniless local man but was forced to renounce this vow.
On her wedding night, Janet became so distraught at the prospect of living with a man she could not love; she stabbed her new husband with a dirk (dagger).
Her husband actually survived the attack but Janet died soon afterwards - some stories say that she threw her self from one of the tower windows.
After these bloody events Sir David Dunbar would never divulge the full details of the events of his horrific wedding night.
The ghost of Janet has been seen on numerous occasions walking the grounds and within the castle itself. Many witnesses have reported that she wears a white gown, possibly a wedding gown that has blood stains on the front bodice.
Carscreugh Castle - Childhood Home Of Janet Dalrymple
Blairgowrie - the home of Lady Jean Drummond
The Sad & Loveless
"Now it is the time of night
That the graves, all gaping wide,
In the church-way paths to glide..."
William Shakespeare, "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
Lady Marion Carruthers, Comlongon Castle - Dumfries & Galloway.
Lady Marion Carruthers had inherited great wealth and lands on the death of her father. Unfortunately though, he had also arranged a marriage for his daughter just prior to his death.
The would-be husband was Sir James Douglas. Lady Marion detested him and refused to marry him. Her exasperated uncle locked her in the tower of Comlongon hoping to change her mind. Finally a decree came from the Court that stated Lady Marion had been betrothed to Douglas and was committed to marriage. Some accounts suggest that the decree came from Mary Queen of Scots herself.
The story then states that on hearing this news the distressed and distraught Lady Marion jumped from the window of the tower in which she was kept.
A historical account of the time recorded the following:
“On the 25th, September 1570, Lady Marion Carruthers did wilfully take her own life by leaping from the lookout tower of Comlongon Castle where she was being held captive and did break her head and bones.”
Because of the decree of suicide Lady Marion did not receive a Christian burial.
However, a few years after the tragic death of this young woman strong rumours, especially from the local people who new Lady Marion well, were circulating Lady Marion was murdered. It was suggested that some of Douglas's men entered the tower where Marion was and when she still refused to marry Sir James, was thrown from the window.
There is also a legend that survives to this day that on the area of grass where Marion fell, no flowers have ever grown.
Her ghost has been seen on numerous occasions at the castle. A lady dressed in a long green gown and crying is thought to be that of Lady Marion. It’s believed that her spirit is restless because she was not buried in consecrated ground. It’s also believed that she is restless because she was murdered and no one was held to account for her death.
Sir James Douglas himself ended up doing pretty well from Lady Marion’s death. Because he had been legally betrothed to Lady Marion, by the laws of the time, he automatically inherited all her wealth and lands.
Marion Ogilvie - Claypotts Castle, Dundee
The spirit of a 'white lady' has been seen on numerous occasions at the castle. Frequently the apparition has been seen at one of the windows and witnesses have also observed that the spirit seems to be waving her hand or sometimes a handkerchief. This spirit is frequently believed to be that of Marion Ogilvie.
In the 16th century Marion Ogilvie was the mistress of Cardinal Beaton - who was murdered in St. Andrews on 29th May, 1546.
However, it's unclear why the 'white lady' ghost is said to be that of Marion as Claypotts didn't exist until much later in the century. It’s possible that another lady called 'Marion' haunts the castle. She may be connected to another ghost that haunts the area – John Graham of Claverhouse.
In 1601 Claypotts Castle was bought by the Grahams and later owned by John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee. His most famous name however is 'Bonnie Dundee' but also 'bluidy (bloody) Clavers' by his enemies.
The castle was the focus of rumours about diabolic rituals and demonic orgies lead by John Graham. However, this is likely to be propaganda made up by his enemies.
Graham was killed at the battle of Killiecrankie in 1689 and his spirit is also said to return to the castle on 29th May – the same date Cardinal Beaton was murdered in 1546. Therefore, could the 'White Lady' be a former wife or mistress of John Graham? It’s unlikely we’ll ever find out the true identity of the lady ghost of Claypotts Castle.
Lady Jean Drummond - Newton Castle, Blairgowrie, Perthshire.
The castle dates back to at least the 14th century. The main ghost said to haunt here is Lady Jean Drummond.
Her story involves a man that she loved very much and initially the signs were hopeful that he felt the same way.
However, he was soon seen in the company of another lady and Lady Jean became distraught. She is said to have dressed herself in the finest silk gowns, braided pearls into her hair and did everything to make herself more attractive, but all to no good.
She apparently became withdrawn and could be seen and heard sitting in the castle tower singing sad love songs. When her ghost is encountered it’s usually the singing that is first noticed. Her spirit is also seen wandering sadly around different areas of the castle.
However, legend tells of another aspect to this story. This second account states that Lady Jean won her lover back by seeking the help of a local witch.
She was instructed to dress in the witching colour of green and all would be well. The legend states that this was successful and Lady Jean finally wed her beloved. However, it is said that she died on her wedding night - her soul having been abducted by dark forces. After her death people swore that her gravestone would spin around three times on Halloween night.
Claverhouse's Stone Killicrankie - this stone marks the spot where Bonnie Dundee died of his wounds
What would be your favourite venue for a ghost hunt?
There is no doubt that the majority of our female ghosts are heartbroken women.
Life was not kind to them and emotional stress has is the reason they are trapped or compelled to re-visit the earthly plane.
Much of their stories have also been lost in time and so legends grow up around them. Could it be that they long to tell their own story, the truth, rather than hearsay? We will probably never know.
However, we can hope that at least one day, they may find the peace and happiness that so eluded them in life.
©Seeker7/H M Howell, August 2013