Scotland's supernatural sites and haunted landmarks can provide plenty of inspiration for thrill-seeking day-trippers. If you want a glimpse into the country’s sinister past, then these are some of the places you need to visit.
Sat high upon on the Ayrshire cliffs, this Robert Adam masterpiece is shrouded in tales of terrible deeds and evil spirits. In 1570 the 4th Earl of Cassillis captured the abbot of Crossraguel Abbey and decided to roast him alive until he agreed to sign over his lands. Sir Archibald the Wicked of Culzean was a man so evil that the devil himself attended his funeral.
Culzean Castle is fascinating. Because it is majestic, but also because it is populated by ghosts. There are tales of a ghostly knight dressed in armour who appears to household staff and the spirit of a bagpiper who is said to be heard playing outside the castle once darkness falls.
Other witnesses speak of an old gentleman that is dressed in old-fashioned clothing who comes and sits in the bedrooms at night. Of course, his favourite chairs seem to be the ones that make cracking noises.
Brodick Castle in the West Coast of Scotland is two miles from the main port of the Isle of Arran and sits at the foot of Goatfell mountain amongst the tall trees.
Beneath the towering peak of Goat Fell, there are sightings of a Grey Lady, a majestic White Stag, and tales of murder and the supernatural. There is even one spot in the castle that pets refuse to cross, a hanging tree and the portcullis where plague victims were entombed.
The Grey Lady is thought to be a servant girl from Cromwellian times. She had a love affair with the Captain of the Guard and became pregnant and was then dismissed from service at the Castle. She tried to return to her family in nearby Corrie but they disowned her. Distraught, she went to the Wine Port Quay by the entrance to Brodick Castle and drowned herself.
Her ghost is said to haunt the servant areas of the Castle such as the kitchen, lower corridor and the Turnpike stairs which lead to the East Tower and the Battlements.
In the Castle Library the ghost of an old man has been seen but no-one knows who he is or why he decided to haunt Brodick Castle. It is also claimed that a white stag is said to appear in the grounds of Brodick Castle when highest rank of the Hamilton's is about to die.
Pollok House sits in sprawling grounds near the area of Shawlands on the south side of the River Clyde. It was once the home of the powerful Stirling-Maxwell family. There are bloodcurdling tales of the ‘bewitched baronet’ and the ‘witches’ of Pollok.
In the 1670's, Janet Douglas, a mute serving girl, arrived at the Pollok estate of Sir George Maxwell, who shortly thereafter fell mysteriously ill. Janet regained the power of speech and immediately accused five local people of consorting with the devil.
The story of their trial and subsequent burning at the stake has intrigued historians over the centuries, as has the story of Janet herself. She was reputed to have travelled to America and was involved in the infamous Salem witch trials of 1692.
As the country residence of the royal Stuarts, the Renaissance palace has beautiful gardens to explore on a crisp autumn day – as well as the opportunity to spot a ghost or two.
Besieged by Rob Roy and partially destroyed by Cromwell’s troops, the palace has a turbulent history soaked in murder and despair. In 1402 the Duke of Rothesay, heir to the Scottish throne, was imprisoned in Falkland Castle, where he reputedly starved to death.
In 1542 James V’s body lay in state in the Chapel Royal for almost a month before being taken to Holyrood Abbey and buried.
Over the years the palace has had visits from the ghosts of Mary, Queen of Scots; the White Lady, who roams the Tapestry Gallery awaiting her lost lover; and the Grey Lady, who walks the ruins of the East Range and disappears through a wall where once there was a door. Most chilling of all are the sinister faces that appear at the window of the Queen’s Room.
This 700-year-old keep, the oldest in Scotland, is home to numerous ghost stories from across the centuries. There are stories of the Abbot’s Curse and a dungeon where the spectre of a man in chains is helped by a ghostly serving girl who bandages his rat-gnawed foot.
In the Great Hall you may encounter a young girl trapped in the stone well; a woman dressed in black watching over a cradle; and a maid pacing nervously up and down close to the family portrait that depicts Alloa Tower with an adjoining mansion – the very mansion which burned to the ground in August 1800 when a maid placed a lit candle too close to bedclothes. On the anniversary of the fire, visitors often report the acrid smell of burning.
In the Charter Room you may come across a young boy crying, an armed man with strange eyes or a gaunt clergyman dressed in black. Most frightening of all is the Solar Room, where a man has been seen hanging and where you may be overcome by the physical sensation that you too are being strangled.