Claypotts Castle

Claypotts Castle is a late medieval castle in the West Ferry area of Dundee, Scotland. It is one of the best-preserved examples of a 16th-century ‘Z-plan’ tower house in Scotland. The castle is now maintained as an Ancient Monument by Historic Scotland and is open to the public for only a few days a year. Originally built by John Strachan, work commenced sometime in 1569 and was eventually completed in 1588, nearly 20 years later. The land the castle was built on was owned by Lindores Abbey in Fife, and was rented to the Strachans for a cost of £11 16s 8d and twelve cockerels. Yes, that’s right – twelve cockerels!

The spirit of a ‘white lady’ has been seen on numerous occasions at the castle. She has been mainly seen at one of the upper windows and witnesses have also said that, at times, she seems to be waving. She is largely 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 that century. It’s possible that another lady by the name of ‘Marion’ haunts the castle, and it may be that she is 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, more famous for the moniker ‘Bonnie Dundee’ or ‘Bloody Clavers’.

The castle was the focus of rumours about diabolic rituals and demonic orgies lead by John Graham. He had apparently made a pact with the devil during these satanic rituals, bestowing upon him the gift of invulnerability. Bloody Clavers 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. Tales tell of demonic screaming, “hell-fire”, lascivious orgies and the sounds of the horses of Hell stomping over the land.  Red, glowing eyes, cackling laughter and the devil himself have also all been reported…but never validated.  Ever. So widely believed were the rumours of devil worship that it was recorded that he had died by a either silver bullet or the silver button on his jacket as a bullet hit him, as he could not be felled by lead whilst under the protection of the devil himself.


– DD Tours operates walking tours in Dundee city, covering dark local history such as wars, battles, murders, diseases, riots, disasters and executions. Walk with us for an unforgettable storytelling experience.



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