Cardiff Castle is unique in that visitors do not have to travel off the beaten track to find it. It is located right in the middle of the capital city of Cardiff, Wales, itself. Within its walls lie 2000 years of history plus quite a few specters to enliven things.
At the end of the 50s AD, a Roman fort was established at Cardiff on a strategic site that allowed easy access to the sea. This was the first of four forts that were built over each other over time. A succession of noble families owned this castle until it came into the possession of the Bute family in 1766. The Second Marquess of Bute was responsible for turning Cardiff into the world’s greatest coal exporting port.
Eventually the castle and the Bute fortune passed to his son, John, the Third Marquess of Bute, who, by the 1860s, was reputed to be the richest man in the world. With his wealth and the genius of architect William Burges, the castle was transformed into a Welsh Victorian Camelot. Now it is the property of the Cardiff County Council, a gift from the Bute family.
The Haunting of Marquess of Bute
Some members of the Bute family, or rather their ghosts, are still in residence in the castle, notably the Second Marquess of Bute, John Crichton-Stuart, nicknamed “The Creator of Modern Cardiff”. He died in a small chapel behind the library. There is a bust in his honor which stands at the exact spot where he breathed his last. Very often, his ghost is sighted in the library. He had been reported as appearing as a man wearing a long, red coat. Sometimes he had been sighted pushing past the people at the chapel doorway. At other times, he had been sighted walking right through the fireplace into the chapel where he died.
The Ghost of Sofia
The ghost of this previous owner of the castle is, by no means, the only apparition ever sighted on the premises. There had been sightings of a young woman floating around the place. However, no one could rightly say who she was in real life. She might be the ghost of Sophia, the wife of the Second Marquess of Bute.
Other Paranormal Activities
Spectral manifestations of inanimate objects are not uncommon at Cardiff Castle. In the 19th and 20th centuries, there had been sightings of a ghostly coach. Who knows, perhaps it was delivering a visiting specter. There have also been reports of paranormal activity which usually take place early in the morning. In the stockroom, a misty ghost had been sighted. Things in the stockroom had also been moved around when there were no living human hands around to do the job.
The area surrounding the castle has its share of paranormal phenomena. At Cardiff Museum, there is a statue in Gorsedd Gardens, of Lord Ninian Crichton-Stuart. Lord Ninian was the MP who died during World War I. His ghost was said to have appeared on election night.
The Cardiff Market was the site of the county jail. This was where Richard Lewis, better known as Dic Penderyn, was hanged. He was involved in the Merthyr Rising of June 3, 1831. He was caught and accused of stabbing a soldier with a bayonet. The local people doubted his guilt and 11,000 of them even went to the extent of signing a petition demanding his release. Such is the intensity of his belief in his own innocence that it is said that, on a windy day, if you listen hard enough, you could still hear him shout,
“I am innocent!”
The friary, another haunted place in Cardiff, was built on the site of a monks’ burial ground. Apparently the ghosts of the monks laid to rest there did not all lie in peace. Many people had reported sightings of gray-robed monks walking around.
With so much to offer, both in the normal and paranormal dimensions, Cardiff Castle is certainly well worth a walkabout among the things to do in Cardiff.
Further information on Cardiff Castle:
Image by Chris Stillwell