A Scary Tour: 14 Haunted Castles in Scotland

Updated On: November 15, 2022

haunted castles in scotland

It is rumoured that there are a lot of haunted castles in Scotland. It’s not surprising, given that the country’s history, culture, traditions, and folklore are rich with tales of fairies, monsters, spirits, and the paranormal.

Since ghosts and spirits don’t seem to have a preference, they can be found in Scottish castles of any age, description, or condition. There are about 1500 castles in Scotland, ranging from fully restored masterpieces to mysterious ruins.

Some of Scotland’s most renowned and infamous castles are home to these restless spirits, who walk the halls, towers, staircases, and dungeons.

Most hauntings are based on tales and personal encounters or experiences. Yet, occasionally, a video or picture claims to depict paranormal activity.

Given what has occurred inside the ancient walls of Scotland’s castles, I don’t think it’s a stretch to imagine that a few lonesome souls still reside there.

1. Fyvie Castle, Turriff 

haunted castles in scotland
Fyvie Castle

When it was a royal palace, this beautiful 800-year-old fortress entertained Robert the Bruce and King Charles I. Lord Leith acquired Fyvie in 1889. He was responsible for designing the luxurious interior. He gathered stunning artworks by Gainsborough and Raeburn and a collection of weapons and armour.

The “Green Lady,” or the ghost of Lilias Drummond, resides in Fyvie. According to legend, Alexander Seton, the castle’s previous owner, starved her to death as punishment for not giving him a son and heir.

She showed up outside the newlyweds’ bedroom the night he remarried, bemoaning their marriage and causing a stir.

It was discovered in the morning that she had inscribed her name into the castle wall, which is still visible today.

2. Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh 

haunted castles in Scotland
Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle, one of Scotland’s most significant historical sites, is a must-see for visitors to Scotland’s capital city.

The soldiers on duty have reported hearing faint noises of the bagpipes while doing their security rounds after tourists leave.

The story of the Edinburgh Castle Piper first surfaced when a tunnel was discovered beneath the castle rock. Nobody knew where the tunnel led, and an adult could not fit inside, so a young piper boy was thrown inside. He was instructed to play his bagpipes so people in the streets above could follow his journey.

Everything ran smoothly for a while before the music abruptly stopped. There were numerous attempts to rescue the youngster, but he was nowhere to be found.

3. Eilean Donan Castle, Dornie

Haunted castles in Scotland
The Eilean Donan Castle in the evening, Highlands of Scotland

Could this be the most exquisite castle? It’s in a magnificent setting, perched on a tiny island where three saltwater lochs converge.

A Royal Navy cruiser destroyed the castle during the 1719 Jacobite Uprising, which included fighters from Scotland and Spain.

It is believed that the ghost of a Spanish soldier who died in this attack haunts the castle, which is home to paranormal phenomena. Another ghostly figure, known as Lady Mary, keeps him company and occasionally stops by the castle’s chambers.

4. Craigievar Castle, Alford

Haunted Castles in Scotland
Craigievar Castle, Alford

This magnificent castle embodies what a baronial residence should be. It’s said that this castle, which features turrets, towers, and domes and is surrounded by lovely grounds, served as the model for Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle.

Red squirrels and Pine Martens, two of Scotland’s most elusive creatures, reside in the vast grounds.

Although it lives in peace today, its past was chaotic and the focus of long-ago clan wars. The ghost of a fiddler who drowned many years ago after falling into the castle well resides within the pink walls of Craigievar.

5. Stirling Castle, Stirling 

This massive fortress overlooks Stirling City from its perch atop a volcanic core. Although it was constructed to defend the River Forth from invaders, the Stuart Kings and Queens made it their preferred residence.

The Royal Apartments, Chapel Royal, and Great Hall are located in the castle’s centre, where grand celebrations are conducted.

You might run into a phantom Highlander when exploring Stirling Castle, complete with full costume and kilt. Many tourists mistake him for a tour guide; when they ask him for directions, he simply turns away and disappears in front of them. 

6. Dunrobin Castle, Golspie

haunted castles in scotland
A beautiful shot of the famous Dunrobin Castle

There are no fewer than 189 rooms in the largest home in the Northern Highlands, Dunrobin Castle. The daughter of the castle’s lord, the 14th Earl of Sutherland, Margaret, is said to haunt the apartments on the top floors.

Jamie, a stableman who worked in the castle, had captured Margaret’s heart. Her father, however, disapproved of their relationship and looked for a more suitable man for his daughter.

Her maid volunteered to help Margret elope with her lover and got her a rope. Margaret climbed through the window while her boyfriend Jamie waited below on his horse, but her father walked into the room just as she was about to descend. When Margaret realised she and Jamie couldn’t be together, she released the rope and fell to her death.

To this day, Margaret’s spirit flies above Dunrobin Castle, lamenting the loss of her beloved.

7. Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven 

haunted castles in scotland
Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven 

Your initial impression of Dunottar Castle will stay with you forever. Even in its current damaged form, this majestic cliff-top stronghold, which has a turbulent 1,300-year history, is impressive.

One hundred eighty individuals were held captive at Dunottar in 1698 because they did not accept the legitimacy of the King. For almost two months, they were imprisoned in a dark underground with little access to food and water.

Thirty-seven people surrendered and were freed during that period; some attempted to flee, but the majority were caught, and five died in terrible conditions.

As night falls, you can hear these unfortunate individuals’ cries of sorrow and suffering as they agonise over their destinies. They did not know that transportation to the West Indies was waiting for them when they were eventually permitted to leave the fortress.

8. Ackergill Tower, Caithness

Ackergill Tower is located in Scotland’s far north, overlooking Sinclair’s Bay. Ackergill was one of Scotland’s most famous haunted castle hotels when it was an opulent hotel. It now serves as a private home.

The tale’s heroine is a local girl named Helen Gunn, nicknamed the “Beauty of Braemore.” She had caught the eye of Dugald Keith, a member of a competing clan.

Because he was fascinated with her, he abducted her and held her captive at Acklergill. She ascended to the top of the tallest tower, where she jumped to her death to escape his unwanted attention.

Since then, her ghost has lived permanently at Ackergill. She frequently moves from one room to another dressed in a long crimson gown with loose black hair.

The 500-year-old battle between the Gunn and Keith Clans ended in 1978 when the two Clan Chiefs met to sign a Treaty of Friendship, but Helen’s terrible death was only one chapter in that conflict.

9. Brodick Castle, Isle of Arran

haunted castles in scotland
Ruins of the Brodick Castle on the Isle of Arran in the Firth of Clyde, Scotland

One of the first views you see of the Isle of Arran as the ferry enters Brodick Bay is Brodick Castle, perched in the shadow of Goat Fell, the island’s tallest mountain. The location has a long history dating back to Viking times. Still, it was only built as the Dukes of Hamilton’s residence in 1844.

There have been numerous tales of creepy behaviour in this area. A grey woman is rumoured to inhabit the castle’s oldest portion. According to legend, a local woman identified as having “the plague” was imprisoned in the castle’s dungeon and starved to death since no one was bold enough to feed her.

A white deer is said to appear on the castle grounds when the Clan Chief is on the verge of passing away because Arran is known for its abundance of wild deer. Fortunately for the Clan Douglas chief, this is a relatively uncommon occurrence.

10. Glamis Castle, Angus

haunted castles in scotland
the famous castle of Glamis in the highlands of Scotland

The area where Glamis Castle is located has been significant to Scotland’s history since King Malcolm II was assassinated there in the 11th century.

Though most of what you see today was constructed in the 17th century, the castle was founded in the 14th and 15th centuries. The castle and its surroundings are stunning and considered reminiscent of a fairytale.

“The Monster of Glamis” story is about a deformed Bowes-Lyon child who lived his entire life in a hidden, remote room in the castle. His family claimed that he died at birth, but because there was no gravestone of the young boy, rumours persisted that he survived. He was first seen in the middle of the 19th century.

According to ghost tales, Glamis Castle is one of the most spooky Scottish castles and a scene of eerie events. These tales date back hundreds of years before the castle even existed.

There are rumours of a Grey Lady who supposedly haunts the family church and is the spirit of Lady Janet Douglas, who was burnt at the stake for witchcraft in 1537. The back of the church still has a seat that is always left empty since it’s reserved for Grey Lady.

In addition, Earl Beardie has a ghastly presence. He can be heard shouting, cursing, and rattling his dice throughout the castle. He lost his soul to the Devil in a card game.

More horrifyingly, there have been stories of a woman with no tongue spotted strolling around the castle grounds with her mouth bleeding. According to legend, this ghost was once a castle maid who learned a secret, and an Earl had her tongue cut to stop her from telling anyone. He might have also ordered her murder.

11. Inveraray Castle, Argyll

The ancestral home of Clan Campbell, Inveraray Castle, was first constructed in the middle of the fifteenth century and overlooked the lovely Loch Fyne in western Scotland.

Early in the 18th century, John Campbell, the second Duke of Argyll, desired to improve the existing castle. He hired an architect to create a spectacular mansion that incorporated several popular styles at the time.

Today, we see a stunning, exquisite castle with turrets, towers, and conical roofs due to this work and other extensions made in the late 19th century.

Inveraray Castle has hosted both Mary Queen of Scots and King James V. It’s also well-known for serving as the setting in the successful TV series Downtown Abbey. It’s the noble Crawley family’s residence. 

Inveraray Castle in Scotland is haunted by several restless ghosts, including a Grey Lady and a young boy who used to play the harp there in his youth. According to legend, he can be heard playing when a family member is on the verge of passing away.

There are many rumours and legends about ghosts, paranormal events, and sightings in Inveraray and the surrounding area. Built in the 1800s and located less than a mile from Inveraray Castle, Inveraray Jail is one of Scotland’s most haunted locations. It has its grisly legends and numerous claims of strange occurrences, ghosts, bizarre appearances, and more.

12. Kellie Castle, Fife

The earliest historical records date Kellie Castle to the middle of the 12th century. Most of the current castle comes from the 16th and 17th centuries, with the oldest section dating only as far back as 1360.

Robert Bruce’s daughter lived there for a while in the fourteenth century. King James VI was invited to stay there in 1617 by Sir Thomas Erskine, the castle’s owner at the time and a childhood friend of James. The Lorimer family, who were architects and artists, completely renovated it after it fell into disrepair in the following century.

Two ghosts are rumoured to haunt Kellie Castle. James Lorimer is one of them; he has been observed in the castle’s hallways. The other is Anne Erskine’s ghost, who died after falling down the castle stairs while on a visit. Although she is rarely seen, the stairs frequently witness her footsteps.

13. Skibo Castle, Dornoch

Skibo Castle, located in the Scottish Highlands, was first the residence of the Bishops of Caithness, probably as early as 1211. It remained so until 1545 when it was given to a man named John Gray.
Like many of the historic castles in Scotland, Skibo Castle was leased by the well-known and wealthy businessman Andrew Carnegie in 1897 until he purchased it entirely the following year. Nearly a century later, another industrialist, Peter de Savary, purchased Skibo Castle from Carnegie and converted it into a private members club before selling it to Ellis Short in 2003.

It is still a prestigious, private members club today called “The Carnegie Club.” You won’t be surprised to learn that Skibo Castle has hosted several notable visitors, including Michael Douglas, Sean Connery, Lloyd George, Rudyard Kipling, Edward VII, and more. Even Guy Ritchie and Madonna were married there.

The ghosts claimed to haunt Skibo Castle did not seem to be put off by the “private” label! The White Lady was among these spirits. She was thought to be the spirit of a young woman who had once visited the castle early in its history and was believed to have been murdered by one of the keepers. She was occasionally spotted walking the palace while partially dressed.

During renovations, a woman’s skeleton was eventually found concealed in one of the castle walls. After the body was buried, these specific apparitions stopped, giving rise to the legend that her soul had finally found peace.

14. Tantallon Castle, East Lothian

haunted castles in Scotland
Tantallon Castle

Another castle in Scotland with a rich past and stunning setting is Tantallon Castle.

The final Scottish castle to be built in the Medieval Curtain Wall style, Tantallon Castle, was built in the 14th century and is situated on Bass Rock, a rugged rocky outcrop with views that span the Firth of Forth. Possibly dating back to the 13th century, if not earlier, this location once contained a stronghold. It was a Red Douglas family stronghold that endured at least three sieges before Oliver Cromwell’s army virtually destroyed it in 1651.

Tantallon Castle is one of the few Scottish castles that has provided photographic proof of its spectral residents. When the Lamb family visited Tantallon Castle in 1977, Grace Lamb photographed her husband and kids. One of the pictures, which she later developed, revealed a dark figure standing near one of the windows. The Lambs didn’t give it much thought until a similar occurrence occurred decades later.

Surprisingly, in 2009, Christopher Aitchison was photographing Tantallon Castle’s ruins when he unintentionally took a picture of a mysterious figure gazing out of one of the windows on an upper level from behind bars.

Experts who examined the image don’t think it was modified, but there is no proof that the figure was actually a ghost.

One aspect of the travel adventure is discovering more about Scotland’s myths and stories. Better times are ahead, and Scotland is the ideal place to celebrate. Decide on your excellent Scotland tour right now using our guide!