Back before Castle Huntly became a prison, it had a history all of its own – and a couple of its own ghosts, to boot. There are two ghosts alleged to still haunt Castle Huntly; the White Lady and that of a young boy. When researching the ghosts of Castle Huntly, it became apparent that there is some confusion between Castle Huntly and Huntly Castle (which is in Aberdeenshire), and, as such, the ghost stories of which White Lady belonged to which castle seems to get a little skewed.

We’re going to stick with the story of the young woman being a daughter of the Lyon family, the Earls of Kinghorne (which was later changed to Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne). The title Earl of Kinghorne was actually created in 1606 for Patrick Lyon, and when Castle Huntly was acquired by the Earl in 1614, he had the name changed to Castle Lyon. It was not until the castle was sold in 1777 that the name was reverted back to Castle Huntly.

Whether the woman in the story was the first Earl of Kinghorne’s daughter or granddaughter, we do not know, but, from what we have read, it appears as though she may have had an inappropriate relationship with one of the castle’s manservants. It wasn’t all too uncommon for sexual relationships to form between social classes, as privacy was hard to come by, and servants were often put in sexually vulnerable positions by their masters or mistresses, as well as by lodgers, guests and each other. Remember there wasn’t a lot to do back then!

When they were found out, the pair were separated. Whether the manservant was imprisoned, tortured, murdered, or all three, we cannot say for sure, but it’s pretty clear that, in those times, he wasn’t just going to be sent on his way with his wages and his P45 in hand. Whoever he was, he very likely met a grisly end. The nameless Lyon daughter was locked in a chamber on the upper levels of the castle, and it was from the window of this room that she is said to have met her doom. Her body was found, broken and bleeding on the grounds directly under her bedroom window, with nothing that could be done to save her.

 

To add a twist to an already murky story, whilst some may say that she killed herself as a result of a broken heart or at being imprisoned in her own family home, others have whispered that she may not have taken her own life and may, in fact, have been pushed. There are a lot of facets to this story that don’t quite add up (which we tend to find with a lot of the older ghost stories), hence their origins as legends and not actual fact. What did happen to the manservant? And why can’t we name the Lyon daughter on who the tale is supposedly based? And the big question – did she fall, or was she pushed? We’ll just never know.

Moving away from the mysterious White Lady, the second ghost alleged to haunt Castle Huntly is that of a young boy, named the Paterson Ghost. He is believed to be the descendant of George Paterson – the man who purchased the castle from the Lyons in 1777 for £40,000, and also the man who gave Castle Huntly back its original name. Fast-forward 150 years or so, to when Colonel Adrian Paterson and his family occupied Castle Huntly.

Their only son, Richard, tragically died in a boating accident aboard the river Tay in 1939, and it is his ghost that is said to haunt the castle. He is said to be seen in the same room as the White Lady wearing a double-breasted sailing jacket. Interestingly, no-one seems to know what colour it is, which, given the “sightings”, you would think that someone would be able tell us at least if it was light or dark. Whilst the White Lady is alleged to haunt the grounds of the castle as well as the room, young Richard is said to appear only in the room once occupied by the fated daughter of Lyon.

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In 2011 The Ghost Club performed a paranormal investigation on the RSS Discovery. What did they find? Were the visited by any of the souls who lost their lives on Dundee’s most infamous ship, or even by Captain Scott himself? There have long been stories of hauntings aboard the RSS Discovery, and the Ghost Club’s evening of vigils and investigations was no exception. Read the full report at the link below, or visit their website for more of their haunted location investigations.

RRS Discovery Investigation 13th August, 2011 – PDF

The Grey Lady of Glamis haunts the family chapel and the Clock Tower of the world-famous Glamis Castle.  Steeped in centuries of tale and legend, the castle has been standing since the late 1300’s, and has seen its fair share of goings-on.  The Grey Lady of Glamis is believed to be Lady Janet Douglas, burned at the stake as a witch in 1537, and who has haunted the grounds of Glamis Castle ever since. Family feuds involving illegitimate children, forced imprisonment, civil wars and seizures of lands and titles fuelled King James V’s hatred towards his stepfather, Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus.  Once married to his mother, Margaret Tudor, tensions had become bitterly acrimonious, to the point that the King held nothing but contempt for the Archibald Douglas and the Clan Douglas. Imprisoned by his stepfather and held against his will, King James V was finally broken free and Janet quickly became the target of his revenge.  Archibald Douglas fled to England, leaving Janet in the firing line.

In 1528, upon the death of her first husband, John Lyon, 6th Lord of Glamis, Janet was immediately summoned for treason, accused of supporting the civil war against the King and of poisoning Lyon.  Charges were eventually dropped, and she remarried Archibald Campbell in 1532, having ceased all communication with her brothers to prove her innocence in any plot against the King.  Janet’s reprieve was short-lived, however, as in 1537, she was once again summoned for treason.

This time, the charges brought against her included being in secret talks with the Douglas clan, attempting to poison the King and witchcraft.  Glamis Castle was confiscated by the Crown, and Janet’s family and servants were savagely tortured until they gave false evidence against her.  Even her young son was forced to watch the torture before he too, was put to the rack.  These testimonies were enough to convict Janet of witchcraft, and she was burned at the stake as a witch in the grounds of Edinburgh Castle.  It is said King James forced her son to watch her agonising death before letting him go.

Many witnesses claim to have seen the Grey Lady of Glamis whilst visiting Glamis Castle, so why not visit it yourself and see if you can spot her?

The tale of Alexander Lindsay, the 4th Earl of Crawford is by far one of the most popular ghost stories of Glamis.  Known as “Earl Beardie”, Alexander Lindsay is alleged to have been a cruel, evil man with a wicked temperament and a searing bloodlust.  Born to nobility and of a particularly influential character, he was involved in the battles against King James II as part of the Douglas clan uprisings.  As we mentioned, he was an evil man, and it is alleged that he once had a black house-servant stripped naked and forced to run around in the grounds for his and the other Earls’ entertainment.  In a macabre twist, the ‘entertainment’ was actually a hunt, and the poor man was chased down by Earl Beardie, his guests, and their hunting dogs.  His screams rang out over the land as he was stabbed with spears and literally torn apart by the dogs, defenceless and stricken by mortal fear.

It is further alleged that the display was watched by the noblewomen from the safety of the castle, where they laughed in delight.  What happened to the body after the hunt was over does not appear to be recorded, but is more than likely he would have been eaten by the dogs or other animals on the land.  The ghost of this manservant is reputed to be that of ‘Jack the Runner’ – a spirit who runs through the halls at night screaming in pain and terror.  The Earl’s indulgences in vices lead us directly to his own ghost story, as it was whilst gambling that Earl Beardie is reported to have met his demise.  There are various different takes on how the story begins, but they all centre around a game of cards being played late on a Saturday night at the castle.  Whether a fight broke out over alleged cheating, failure to notice the lateness of the hour, or perhaps just from sheer petulance, we will never know, but the legend leads us to believe the Earl was forewarned by a servant that it was close to midnight, and that gambling on the Sabbath was sacrilege.  The Earl is said to have scoffed at the servant, ordering him out of the room.  Again, depending on the story you read or hear, either the other players take heed and leave, or they do not, and the game continues.

At the stroke of midnight, a knock is heard on the door of the room in which the card game is still being played, and a dark, mysterious figure asks to join the game.  The Earl agrees that the mystery man can play, and a new game begins.  Sometime in the early hours of Sunday morning, arguing and shouting was heard coming from the room.  When the servant opened the door, the Earl was engulfed in flames.  The mystery man is always reported to be the devil himself, having won the Earl’s soul in a game of cards, and condemning him to play until Doomsday for daring to play cards on the Sabbath.

In other versions of the story, a cloaked devil appears out of thin air, taking both Earl Beardie and his playing companions back to the underworld where are destined to gamble for all eternity.  Sounds such as shouting, stomping feet, banging doors and swearing are all reported to come from the West Tower of the castle – the alleged site of the card game (according to some).  There have also been reports of residents and guests sighting a bearded man wandering the castle, again, believed to be the spirit of Earl Beardie, and others have even described being touched by the spectre itself.

As far as legends go, it’s certainly a vibrant tale, adapted and altered over time to suit the listener or reader, but, with so many inconsistencies in the tale, we’ll probably never know the real story of what happened to the man nicknamed by many as the “wicked Earl.”

Whilst not actually in Dundee, per se, we couldn’t let a wee treasure like Glamis Castle fly under the radar. Steeped in centuries of dark, blood-soaked history and with more legends attached to it than almost any other castle in Scotland, Glamis Castle was too hard to resist. The Castle was presented to Sir John Lyon as a gift by King Robert II in 1372 and remains in the family to this day. The Queen Mother, mistakenly believed to have been born at Glamis, in fact, gave birth to Princess Margaret there in 1930 and also tended to wounded soldiers at Glamis during WW1 when it became a convalescence home.

Glamis is the setting for Shakespeare’s Macbeth and is referred to by name, and it is widely believed that Duncan was murdered here by Macbeth (although, for each proponent of the tale, there is a counter-argument). In the armoury of the Castle, the sword and the shirt of mail worn by Macbeth are still displayed.

Bonnie Dundee was a great friend of the 3rd Earl of Kinghorne and a hero to the Jacobites. His leather ‘bullet-proof’ jacket (allegedly enhanced by the devil himself during dark magic rituals undertaken in Claypotts Castle) and boots are also on display at Glamis.

Lady Janet Douglas, the Lady of Glamis, was accused by King James V (Mary Queen of Scots father) of witchcraft, poisoning her husband and plotting to poison the king. King James hated the Douglas family because his stepfather, Archibald Douglas (who happened to be Janet’s brother) had imprisoned James when he was a young child. This hatred failed to abate over the years, and, seeking vengeance for the past, Janet was burned at the stake on 17th July 1537 at Edinburgh Castle as her son, John, was made to watch. Interestingly, no harm was inflicted on the boy, who was incarcerated until he came of age, and then had his title and estates restored. Some forty years after the death of his mother, John was murdered in an unplanned skirmish with his mortal hereditary enemies, the Lindsays.

The legend of the “Monster of Glamis” is believed to have been inspired by the infamous “Room of Skulls” – a room where the Ogilvie family sought shelter from the Lindsays and were walled up and left to die of starvation.

Many of the Stuart monarchs believed they had special healing powers, and it was in the chapel at Glamis that King James VIII (The Old Pretender) touched people for the ‘king’s evil’ or scrofula – a skin disease associated with tuberculosis which afflicts sufferers with lymph node swelling in the neck. The practice began with King Edward the Confessor in England around 1003, and continued throughout the middle ages.

These are just some of the many fascinating facets to the history of Glamis Castle, and you can find out more by visiting their website. However, don’t rush away just yet…if you want to know some more about the legends and ghosts of the castle, head over to our Local Legends section.

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Nearly everywhere seems to have a story about a White Lady, so let’s have a wee look at some of our own local legends concerning mysterious ladies in white…

The White Lady of the Coffin Mill

Now, we all know the media likes a headline, but by and far, this is one of the best. “Ghost walks bridge – Dundee throng visits scene – ‘The White Lady’ of Coffin Mill.” This was the Courier & Advertiser’s announcement on 5th September 1945. The Coffin Mill was named not because of the type of work it undertook, but because of its peculiar shape – very similar to the outline of a coffin.

Believed by some to be the ghost of a young girl who met an untimely death with a mixture of a carding machine accident and a subsequent plummet from the connecting metal bridge, the spectacle drew the attention of the locals, who visited the site in droves hoping to catch a glimpse of the phantom. Another theory is that she is the ghost of a woman who told her employer she was pregnant, and was flung to her death from the bridge, but neither tale can be substantiated. The crowd became so large and bothersome that Police eventually had to break up the spectacle, amidst scenes of high alarm and aggravation.

Whatever the legend, our “White Lady” fair gets about; which brings us to the next haunting…

 

The White Lady of Balgay

As stories go, the White Lady of Balgay is a fairly spooky one. Widely popular, but rarely ever sighted, the White Lady allegedly haunts the area around the bridge at Balgay Park which connects the hill to the centuries-old cemetery, once known as the Western Necropolis. A common area for theft, assaults and suicides, the area quickly gained a reputation as a scary, unsafe place to be after dark. Although men as well as women died on or around the bridge area – George Bruce jumped to his death in 1837 & both James Newlands and William Parker shot themselves in separate incidents almost a decade apart – the legend focusses solely on a “White Lady”.

In his book “Haunted Dundee”, Geoff Holder deliberates the possibility that the White Lady could be the spirit of either Janet Fenton or Christina Fraser, who both committed suicide by jumping or dropping from the bridge. Janet died in 1882 aged 59, and Christina died in 1911, aged 53. Geoff notes that whilst Janet is believed to have died instantly, Christina survived for 4 days, before finally succumbing to her injuries. The ghost of the White Lady is said to be heard screaming as she plummets from the bridge, which lays some credence to the origins of the legend – but some of the other stuff, such as turning people into pools of blood is just a wee bit harder to swallow.

The White Lady of Claypotts Castle

On 29th May each year, the ghost of the White Lady of Claypotts Castle is alleged to appear at one of the upper windows of the castle. She is described as waving a white handkerchief towards St Andrews – the direction of her lover, whilst weeping uncontrollably. There isn’t a lot of information to go on, but there are certainly more inconsistencies and inaccuracies surrounding the legend than there is fact. It is noted that the ghost may be that of Marion Ogilvy, but there are no records stating that Marion Ogilvy ever visited or stayed at Claypotts Castle. Despite the fact that the landscape has changed considerably over the centuries, it would have been just as impossible then as it is now for Marion’s “lover” (who, incidentally, was Cardinal Beaton – the man who executed John Wishart as a heretic) to have ever seen her signal from St Andrews! Even the date her ghost is supposed to appear is uncertain, with various dates throughout the year given as the date of sighting. With all of this in mind, could it be possible that the White Lady of Claypotts doesn’t actually exist…or do we have the identity of the mystery woman all wrong? Does a ghost really haunt the upper levels of Claypotts Castle? Maybe we’ll never know…

 

We are all familiar with the iconic RRS Discovery, currently berthed as the crown jewel of Dundee’s waterfront. If you don’t know the history of this ship, you can find out all you need to know about its history and its impact on Antarctic whaling here http://www.rrsdiscovery.com – but for now, let’s concentrate on what we’re good at – ramping up the darkness…

It was a dream of Sir Clements Markham to have a British National Antarctica Expedition, a dream that began to be realised when construction on the HMS Discovery began on 16th March 1900 by Dundee Ship Builders Company; but not everyone thought Markham was the perfect gentleman. An educated man with a wealth of naval experience, Markham took a real shine to Robert Falcon Scott, who many firmly believed was his protégé. Ernest Shackleton, however, wasn’t always so fortunate, as we’ll find out a wee bit later.

Forty-nine experienced seamen began their journey in 1901, picked by Scott himself– a real mix of characters – which proved to be a source of deep regret for the Captain. Arguments and fist fights were not uncommon among the rowdy males, enhanced by the cramped and bitter living conditions aboard the ship and further exacerbated by being trapped in Antarctic ice for 2 years before they were blasted free! Sadly, not all of these men would return home, the most tragic case being the death of a young seaman, Charles Bonner, who fell from the main mast on the ship’s departure from Lyttelton (New Zealand). Reports show he fell head first onto the iron deckhouse, smashing his skull upon impact. The area where he fell is also a source of alleged paranormal activity.

The Discovery has had its fair share of ghost stories, including sounds and mystery noises coming from the bedroom of Ernest Shackleton, who was named as third officer aboard the ship during the time of Captain Scott’s expedition, and who went on to lead 3 British expeditions to the Antarctic. He was sent home early on health grounds after a Polar trek went horrifically wrong, killing all 22 sled dogs and afflicted Scott, Shackleton and scientist Edward Wilson with a variety of potentially deadly ailments such as snow blindness, scurvy and frostbite.

On the return journey, Shackleton had by his own admission “broken down” and could no longer carry out his share of the work…He would later deny Scott’s claim in The Voyage of the Discovery, that he had been carried on the sledge…However, he was in a seriously weakened condition; Wilson’s diary entry for 14 January reads: “Shackleton has been anything but up to the mark, and today he is decidedly worse, very short winded and coughing constantly, with more serious symptoms that need not be detailed here but which are of no small consequence one hundred and sixty miles from the ship”. On 4 February 1903, the party finally reached the ship. After a medical examination (which proved inconclusive), Scott decided to send Shackleton home on the relief ship Morning, which had arrived in McMurdo Sound in January 1903. Scott wrote: “He ought not to risk further hardship in his present state of health.” There is conjecture that Scott’s motives for removing him was resentment of Shackleton’s popularity, and that ill-health was used as an excuse to get rid of him. Years after the deaths of Scott, Wilson and Shackleton, Albert Armitage, the expedition’s second-in-command, claimed that there had been a falling-out on the southern journey, and that Scott had told the ship’s doctor that “if he does not go back sick he will go back in disgrace”.” (en.wikipedia.org)

Having initially agreed to Shackleton’s proposal for leadership of a Polar exploration, Clements Markham changed his mind and began to denounce Shackleton’s credentials, going so far as to cross out credible or favourable entries towards Shackleton in his own notes. Markham’s sudden dismissiveness towards Shackleton is seen by many as a show of resentment, as Markham wished polar glory to be attributed to his protégé, Scott.

Maybe this is the reason people keep hearing noises such as snoring and knocking coming from Shackelton’s room aboard the RRS Discovery to this day – poor Shackleton is still annoyed with Markham after all this time! Whilst people in the past have claimed that Shackleton died aboard the Discover, this is untrue, but does lend itself to the theory that Shackleton’s ghost is responsible for the potential hauntings.

In a bizarre twist of fate for Markham, whilst reading in bed by candlelight, his bed caught fire, and he barely survived, only to die the following day from his injuries on 30th January 1916.

RRS Discovery did a lot more than just sail to the Antarctic a couple of times, enjoying life as a working munitions ship during WWI as well as a training vessel for both the Royal Navy & the Seal Scouts (Boy Scouts Association), before finally returning home to Dundee for good in April of 1986. Whilst the Antarctic missions may be the most prominent things in folks mind when attributing ghostly phenomena to the RRS Discovery, it’s worth remembering that she saw a lot more action, and undoubtedly more horrors than we give her credit for.

Why not find out for yourself and take a trip to visit her? Alternatively, you can take a wee virtual tour here http://www.digisurv.co.uk/Discovery/tour.html Who knows what you might uncover?

Well today is Halloween! The day when we celebrate everything spooky. One of our favourite Halloween activities used to be watching the live investigations on Most Haunted, joining in watching out for ‘orbs’ on the web cams. Does anyone remember the time the Most Haunted crew came to Dundee to investage the Unicorn and the RRS Discovery?

Happy halloween everyone!

Today’s Halloween Hauntings Video is another group of intrepid explorers investigating paranomal phenomena in the abandoned Strathmartine Hospital, which for many years was a children’s asylum.