The Ghostly Inhabitants of Edinburgh Castle

Everyone knows that whether it’s a true story or an imagined ghost story the settings are most often old abandoned mansions, castles or graveyards. Ghosts become guests in hotels, motels, and taverns. There are some less common places which mention ghosts but the one thing that you most likely have never heard about is a ghost haunting a modern apartment or condominium.

One of the most haunted locations in Scotland is Edinburgh Castle and the city of Edinburgh has been called the most haunted city in all of Europe.

The Castle

Perched atop of Castle Rock, an extinct volcano, Edinburgh Castle is well protected to the north, south and west by rugged cliffs that rise 400 feet above sea level. It is no wonder that this castle has been a fortification for more than 2,000 years. To get to the castle there is a steep road coming up on the east side. The castle offers awesome views of Edinburgh. Edinburgh Castle has been built in a mixture of different architectural styles which reflect the castle’s complex history. The oldest building within the castle is St. Margaret’s Chapel dating from the early 12th century.

The main courtyard, Crown Square was formed in the 15th century and the Great Hall with its hammer-beam roof was built in 1511 by James IV. Created in the late 16th century The Half Moon Battery can be found on the east side of the castle. It is a great curved wall and was built around the ruins of David’s Tower, which dominated the castle in the Middle Ages. In the ancient days, cannons could be fired from the thick, high walls.

Foreign prisoners-of-war were held in The Vaults especially those that were captured in the wars with France in the 18th and 19th centuries. After WW I the Scottish National War Memorial was added.

Secret Tunnels

Beneath Edinburgh Castle is a most secret world that includes a series of tunnels leading from the castle down to the Royal Mile. The Royal Mile is a succession of streets that run through of the Old Town of Edinburgh.

One of the tunnels supposedly leads to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. This house is closely associated with Scotland’s turbulent past. Mary, Queen of Scots lived there between the years 1561 and 1567. The Palace of Holyroodhouse has also been home to successive kings and queens and it is still a royal residence.

The tunnels were first discovered some hundred years ago quite by accident. A piper was sent to explore the tunnels and as he walked through them he played his bagpipes so that everyone above him could tell where he was. The piping suddenly stopped about halfway down the Royal Mile. Can you imagine how odd it was that the rescue party sent out could not find the piper? He had simply vanished and since then has never been found. I wonder what spirits whisked him away. Naturally, the poor piper’s spirit haunts the castle continuing his walk through the tunnels and at times his bagpipes can still be heard coming from the castle and on the streets right above the tunnels.

Ghostly Drums and Dungeons

Not only have people heard the sounds of ghostly drums inside Edinburgh Castle but some have also seen the drummer. However, the drummer ghost has appeared only when the castle was about to be attacked so he wasn’t around that often. This ghostly drummer was first seen before Cromwell’s attack on the castle in 1650 and the spirit appears to be a headless boy. It is not known why he now haunts the castle. Like many other castles, Edinburgh Castle has dungeons where prisoners were tortured, where they suffered and where they died. These dungeons are now haunted by these ghosts and colored orbs are caught on film by visitors. One desperate prisoner chose to hide in a dung barrow hoping to be carried out of the castle and down the Royal Mile. Unfortunately, this prisoner died when the barrow was emptied on the rocky slopes of the castle sending him down to his death. Visitors who have encountered this spirit say that he attempts to shove them from the battlements and when he is around there is a terribly strong and horrid smell of dung.

Janet Douglas, Lady of Glamis was imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle in the 16th century.  She was accused of witchcraft and of conspiracy to murder King James V. Evidence against her was gathered by torturing her servants. On July 17, 1537, she was burned at the stake and her young son Gillespie was made to watch this horrible scene from the battlements. Lady Janet’s restless spirit supposedly still haunts parts of the castle. At night hollow knocking sounds can be heard which are attributed to the workmen building the platform upon which she was burned. It makes me wonder if like the witches in the movie “Hocus Pocus” she might find a way to return. Perhaps you might be interested in taking a look at Edinburgh Castle today.

What do you think?

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