Edinburgh Castle is to Scotland what the Tower of London is to England. Way back in 600 AD, it started as a small hill fort called “Din Eidyn” meaning “the fort on the rock”. Sitting right on top of the long-extinct volcanic Castle Rock, it is a must-see destination for about one million visitors every year. Besides the attractions of its breath-taking panoramic views of the surrounding beautiful landscape and the big collection of historical artifacts in its museum, Edinburgh Castle is also the haunting grounds of a host of spooks and specters.
The dungeons beneath the castle provided a fertile source of supernatural phenomena. One such case was particularly pitiful.
The Ghost of the Prisoner
A prisoner, desperate to find a way out, hid inside a dung barrow. He hoped that by doing so, hidden in the dung, he would be carted out to freedom. His hope was only realized part-way. The dung barrow was taken out of the castle with him inside, undiscovered. Then instead of being taken down the hill where he could have made his escape, the entire contents of the barrow, himself included, were tipped over the rocky slopes of the castle. He literally ended in deep shit at the bottom, lifeless. However his ghost remained at the top.
Visitors to Edinburgh Castle have reported having met this ghost as it tried to shove them from the battlements. They also reported that this unnerving experience was accompanied by a strong and unpleasant smell of dung. Apparently this ghost was not happy that it was the only one to take the fall. Thus far no one had been reported as having met the same fate as the ghost yet.
The ghostly Drummer
Not all the ghosts haunting Edinburgh Castle are that vengeful. Many visitors have heard the sound of ghostly drums coming from inside the castle. Few had the fortune, or misfortune, depending on how you look at it, of having seen the drummer. The reason is that it is said the ghostly drummer will only appear when the castle is about to be attacked, which is something that had not happened to the castle for quite some time.
This ever-vigilant ghost drummer was first sighted before Cromwell’s attack on the castle in 1650. Witnesses said it took the form of a headless boy. However there is no data as to the origins or motivations of this ghost drummer. In the meantime, his ghostly drumming still continues to be heard. Perhaps he is just keeping in practice.
The Haunting of Lady of Glamis
There is a ghost of a person killed at Edinburgh Castle who refused to leave the premises. In the 16th century, Janet Douglas, Lady of Glamis, was accused of witchcraft and conspiracy to murder King Jame V. She was imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle. Incriminating evidence was obtained by torturing her servants. She was sentenced to be burned at the stake. On July 17 1537, the sentence was carried out. Gillespie, her young son, was forced to witness her gruesome execution from the battlements. Since then her ghost has been sighted in various parts of the castle. Sometimes, at night, hollow knocking sounds were heard. They seemed like the sounds made by the workmen who built the platform on which she was burned.
The Tunnel Ghost
A ghost that seems to have lost its way on its journey to the other side haunts Edinburgh Castle, too. Far below the foundations of the castle, there were a series of tunnels. These subterranean passageways were thought to go all the way to Hollyrood Place. When the tunnels were found, a plan was devised to find out where they actually went.
A lone piper was sent down to investigate. He was instructed to keep playing on his pipe as he went along so that those tracking him above ground could see where the tunnels finally led to. Unfortunately, the sound of his pipe-playing died out half-way. A rescue party was immediately formed. They went underground to look for him, to no avail. The lone piper had apparently walked off into the Twilight Zone. Now and then, though, he seemed to have found his way back into this dimension because, at times, his haunting tune can still be heard.
Canine Graveyard Ghost Dog Sighting
Edinburgh Castle has the distinction of being the location of one of only two canine graveyards in Scotland. The other resting place for dear departed dogs was at Fort George. The hounds buried at Edinburgh Castle did not all take it lying down. Sounds of ghostly barking and howling have been reported from the vicinity of the canine graveyard. However, it could not be determined whether the sounds came from one or more than one ghostly hound. So far only one ghost dog had been sighted there.
Paranormal Research on Edinburgh Castle
In 2001, Dr Richard Wiseman undertook a study of the paranormal activities reported at Edinburgh Castle. Two hundred and fifty persons were chosen at random for the project. They were all carefully vetted to make sure that they had no previous knowledge of whatever went bump in the night at the castle. They were then sent to various parts of the castle. Almost all of them reported incidences which were out of the normal. One woman even came across something that she did not want to investigate any further. Relating her experience, Dr Wiseman said,
“Almost immediately, she reported hearing breathing from a corner of the room, which was getting louder. She thought she saw a flash or some sort of light in the corner, but didn’t want to look back.”
Perhaps a visitor made of sterner stuff would, one day, venture to take a closer look and find out what waited in that corner. Or any other corner of Edinburgh Castle which seems, relatively speaking, to be overpopulated with all kinds of ghosts.
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Image by mandalaybus