Sanquhar Castle

The first three letters of its name describes Sanquhar Castle very aptly – Sad And Neglected. What remains of it can be found on the southern edge of the town of Sanquhar, hardly two hundred yards south-west of the A76, the West Coast main line from Scotland to England, in Dumfrieshire, in south-west Scotland. There are no signboards to indicate its location and visitors are more likely to stumble upon it on their way to the fairytale pink sandstone Drumlanrig Castle, just ten miles south of Sanquhar near Thornhill.

Sanquhar Castle

Photos of Sanquhar Castle – Courtesy of Brian Driske

Sanquhar Castle was built in the 13th century. Originally the lands in the area belonged to the Ross family. In the 14th century, ownership passed to the Crichton family by marriage. The location chosen for the castle was very defensible. On the west, the ground fell steeply to the River Nith and to the north was Townfoot Burn. The eastern and southern boundaries were secured by a deep ditch. In 1639, the castle was sold to Sir William Douglas, the first Duke of Queensberry, who built Drumlanrig Castle. In 1895, John Crichton-Stuart, the third Marquess of Bute, bought back his ancestral home and worked on its restoration until his death in 1900. Since then it has been neglected, remembered only by some sad stories from its past.

The Ghost of Marion of Dalpeddar

One such story dated from 1590. The heroine of the tale was Marion of Dalpeddar. She was a flaxen-haired young woman who disappeared at that time, under suspicious circumstances. Rumors had it that she was murdered by one of the Crichtons, one Lord Robert Crichton, who was remembered in local lore as a cruel tyrant.

In 1875-76, parts of the castle were excavated in preparation for restoration work. In a pit, entombed inside a wall, a young female skeleton was found face down. The skeleton still had some hair attached to the skull. The hair was long and blond. Presumably these were the mortal remains of Marion.

Her ghost has been sighted from time to time in Sanquhar Castle. She appears as a white lady, with long, pale tresses and long, white, flowing gown. People who had seen her said she was quite beautiful to behold. This apparition is referred to as the White Lady.

The Haunting of John Wilson

Another tale of woe from Sanquhar Castle involved a man. His name was John Wilson. He was the unfortunate victim of circumstances, being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

John Wilson was the servant of of Sir Thomas Kirkpatrick. Sir Thomas was at odds with Douglas of Drumlanrig, who was an ally of Robert Crichton, the Lord of Sanquhar and Sheriff of Nithsdale. To spite Sir Thomas, Crichton accused John Wilson of some contrived crimes. When Sir Thomas tried to protest Wilson’s innocence, Crichton responded by sentencing the unfortunate pawn to death by hanging. Wilson’s ghost still haunts the ruins of Sanquhar Castle. It has been heard groaning and rattling its chains, perpetually protesting its innocence.

The Faith of Abraham Crichton

One of the best known legends of Sanquhar relates the story of the ghost of Abraham Crichton. He was a merchant, descended from the ancient lords of Crichton Peel. Being a shrewd and active businessman, he became very wealthy and eventually became the chief magistrate. When the parish of Kirkbride was merged with the parishes of Sanquhar and Durisdeer, he was involved in the demolition of the old parish building. In his own words, he would “sune ding doon the Whigs’ sanctuary”.

Soon afterwards, he fell from his horse and died. His ghost had been sighted often walking in the kirkyard or grinning over the low wall that surrounded it. Eventually, a venerable man of the cloth named Hunter laid his spirit to rest.

Local lore had a story, a funny one, related to his ghost.

There were collieries at Sanquhar near Crawickbridge. The colliers lived in the town and went to work very early, usually two or three o’clock in the morning during the winter season. One of them was Cringan, a notorious coward.

To get to the collieries, Cringan had to pass the kirkyard where Abraham Crichton’s ghost had been sighted often. He tried his best to walk there in the company of his fellow colliers. When he had to go alone, he resorted to an interesting way to get past the kirkyard without seeing the ghost.

When he got to the top of the kirk brae, he would shut his eyes tight and run down at full speed until he was past the stream between the kirk and the Broomfield. Then he felt safe enough to open his eyes again because it was said that ghosts could not cross a running stream.

One dark winter morning, Cringan had to pass the kirkyard on his own again. The previous day, a band of tinkers had come to the neighborhood. They had a donkey. The donkey laid down to rest on the road in the middle of the kirk brae, exactly opposite the church. So when Cringan ran down from the brae top with both his eyes shut tightly in fear of seeing ghosts, he fell right over the donkey.

Thinking that he had run foul of Abraham Crichton’s ghost, he did not dare to have a closer look at what he had stumbled over and instead scrambled back to his feet to continue running until he reached the pit where he worked. There he told his workmates about how he had a marvelous escape from the ghost. Whereupon all of them had a good laugh because they had pass that way earlier and had seen the donkey lying in the middle of the road.

Visitors to Sanquhar Castle are well-advised to keep both eyes wide open when picking their way over the crumbling ruins so that they would not miss a step or miss a spectral sighting.

Further information on Sanquhar Castle:

Sanquhar Castle on Wikipedia

Glamis Castle

Glamis (pronounced with a silent “i”) Castle is located, coordinate-wise, at 56.62030 North and 3.00240 West. That puts it near the village of Glamis, five miles west of Forfar, in Angus, Scotland. The tourist attraction is the home of the Earl and Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne. It is also the childhood home of Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon who is better known as the Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, the widow of King George VI. This castle is depicted on the reverse side of ten pound notes issued by the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Glamis Castle

Photo of Glamis Castle – Courtesy of PhilnCaz

The estate surrounding the castle covers more than 14,000 acres. Two streams, one of which is the Glamis Burn, run through the estate. There is an arboretum overlooking the Glamis Burn, with trees from all over the world. Many of these trees are rare and several hundred years old.

The vicinity of Glamis itself has relics from prehistoric times. There is an intricately carved Pictish stone known as the Eassie Stone found in a creek-bed at the nearby village of Eassie. In 1034 AD King Malcom II was mortally wounded in a battle nearby and was taken to the Royal Hunting Lodge where he died. This lodge is on the site of the present castle.

From 1372 onwards, Glamis Castle had been the home of the Lords of Glamis who are now the Earls of Strathmore and Kinghorne. Shakespeare’s famous play “Macbeth” was set in this castle although the historical King Duncan was actually killed near Elgin. While the fictitious Macbeth struggles with the ghost which haunts the castle in the play, other specters roam within its walls in real life.

The Hidden Chamber

There is a very well-known hidden chamber in Glamis Castle. There are many stories connected with this chamber. One legend concerns “Earl Beardie”. This man had been identified as either Alexander Lyon, the second Lord of Glamis or Alexander Lindsay, the fourth Earl of Crawford.

It appears that this Earl Beardie was very fond of playing cards. One day, which was a Sabbath, he insisted on indulging in his favorite pastime. No one would play with him. He became furious. He was so incensed at being denied his fun that he shouted, “I’d play with the Devil himself if he were here!

No sooner had he uttered these famous last words, so to say, than there was a knock at the door. The Earl said, “Enter in the fiend’s name.” And the Devil himself walked in.

Soon, the servants heard horrifying sounds coming from the room. One of them could not contain his curiosity anymore. He tried to peer through the keyhole to see what was going on in the room. A sheet of unholy fire blasted him from the presence of the living. The room was permanently sealed up. It is said that the Earl and the Devil are still playing cards in there.

There is another story connected with the hidden chamber which is no less horrifying. It seemed that some Scottish clansmen, seeking refuge from enemies, came to the castle. The Lord of Glamis admitted them. Then he took them to the chamber. They were locked in. The doors and windows were bricked up. The poor clansmen were left to starve to death inside.

One day, a stonemason accidentally knocked a hole in the wall of the room. He looked inside. What he saw was so horrifying that he died from shock. His wife was given thousands of pounds in compensation. She was sent to Australia so that no one will ever know what her late husband saw before he died.

The Seat of Janet Douglas

Not all the legends about Glamis Castle are so hair-raising and heart-stopping. There is a small chapel inside the castle which has seats for 46 but only 45 persons are allowed to be seated there. One seat is permanently reserved for the Grey Lady. This is supposed to be the ghost of Lady Glamis, Janet Douglas. The chapel is used regularly for family functions but no one is ever allowed to use that particular seat.

The Ghost Girl at the Window

The late Sir David Bowes-Lyon did once come upon a paranormal manifestation at the castle. One late evening, after dinner, he took a stroll on the lawn. He looked up at a castle window. He saw a girl gripping the bars of the window. She was staring distractedly into the night. He wanted to speak to her. However before he could say anything, she abruptly disappeared. It seemed like she was forcibly torn away from the window from inside the castle.

The Apparition of Lady of Glamis

A prominent Edinburgh lawyer also had brush with a being from the other realm near Glamis Castle. He had been invited, together with some friends, to have dinner at the castle. As they drove into the castle grounds, they saw the shadowy figure of a woman dressed in white. Surprisingly, she went along so swiftly that she could keep up with their car, right up to the castle doors. Then she disappeared.

Initially, they thought that it was just one of the maids out for an evening walk. Then they were told that all the maids were inside the castle that night and all were accounted for. Thinking back about it, considering that the woman looked so strange and was able to move so swiftly as to keep up with his moving car, the lawyer concluded that he had just had a close encounter of the other worldly kind.

This apparition is said to be the ghost of the Lady of Glamis who became Lady Campbell after her husband’s demise. King James V concocted a charge of witchcraft against her. She was a very beautiful and popular lady with an impeccable character. Nevertheless she was imprisoned. She was kept so long in the dark dungeon that she became nearly blind. Then she was burned alive at the stake outside Edinburgh Castle. Her ghost, known as the White Lady, had been sighted at Glamis Castle for hundreds of years.
The chances are good that present-day visitors to the Glamis Castle in Scotland may still have to chance to come across the White Lady while they are trying to locate the hidden chamber. More about the hidden chamber and the paranormal activity surround the castle can be found in Glamis Castle Part Two.

Further information on Glamis Castle:

Glamis Castle on Wikipedia
Castle’s Website

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