Sunday, June 16, 2013

Haunted Places: I - Castle Stuart in Scotland

If you are planning your vacation for this summer and you really want something memorable, perhaps a trip to a haunted hotel or place might just give you that kick you need to go back to work (or be happy that you are safe at work, working). While I don’t really believe in ghosts, I find myself truly fascinated by these stories and places with such a rich history. 

Castle Stuart in Scotland

A beautiful castle in a magnificent country, Castle Stuart is not your average pretty castle fairy tale
castle stuart, haunted castle, haunted place, creepycastle. It used to be, but now there are ghosts there. It all began when 3rd Earl of Monray married Anne Gordon. One might think that this was a more than average marriage and love since his father was stabbed to death by her father. But love conquers all, they say, so they went off to live there. Some might even suggest the castle was built by the Stuarts to protect themselves from their crazy in-laws (since both previous Earl of Monray were killed), so next time you might be upset on your mother in law badmouthing you, think again.

The castle saw many horrible things: soon after being built it was attacked by the Clan McIntosh but they were paid by the Stuarts and they left them alone. However, twenty years later the Stuart king, Charles I, was beheaded at his London Palace of Whitehall. King Charles I and the Lords of Castle Stuart were descend from the Royal House of Albany, who were rulers of Scotland.
The castle was unfortunately left to ruin. 

In 1977 Stuart descendents bought and restored the castle as it was in 1625. 

Ghost story as it was found here.

During the 1930s repairs to the East Tower, John Cameron, one of the workmen stayed after other workers gone home to work some more. He tells how he was up on a ladder, working alone when he noticed some of the plaster looked different. He realized after tapping the wall this was where the doorway was to the sealed off wing of the castle. This raised his curiosity so that he stayed and continued working, needing to know what was behind the wall when he uncovered some steps. Then his chisel struck through into a void behind the wall. At that moment he heard a voice cry, No! in half a strangled wail.

His heart started to hammer, but he stood there, chisel in hand at the top of his ladder. He managed to convince himself that the voice was his imagination and he worked on. But then as he struck again, he was pushed full in the chest and fell backwards off the ladder.

The air was filled with a strange force and a fetid smell. He ran out of the building to where his car was. But as he stood there, breathing heavily, he knew he had to go back in; he’d left all of his tools there, including his torch and all the temporary electric lights were blazing. What would people think if he admitted he’d fled because of ghost? So, he went back in, wedging the door open. He’d left his car’s headlights on, pointing at the door so that when he switched out the castle’s lights, he wouldn’t be left in complete darkness. The castle was silent. Mr. Cameron soon found his tools, and his torch, broken as he’d dropped it or kicked it. He took a few breaths and then switched off the lights.

Instead of still being in the bright beams of the headlights, he found he was in utter darkness. In a panic, he felt his way, stumbling towards the door. It had closed, despite the wedge. Suddenly he felt icy fingers grab him and pull him back into the castle. His fear gave him strength and he pulled away, making it to the door and outside. He never entered the castle again.

On the same website we can also find some stories regarding a certain haunted room in the castle.
castle stuart, haunted room, ghost sighting

The room can be found on the top of the East Tower. Here’s the legend:

“One of the Earls of Moray came to live in Castle Stuart, but didn’t stay long. Though he didn’t see the ghost himself, he heard enough blood curdling noises to convince him he didn’t want to live at Castle Stuart.He offered a reward of 20 to any man who would stay the night in the castle and find out what was behind the haunting. Even though it was a hefty sum for most, no one was eager to take him up on his offer.

Needing to prove his castle was not haunted the Earl asked the minister at Petty Church if he would offer the reward. The minister finally got three other men to accept the challenge, a Shoemaker, a Church Elder and a Highlander who was known to be a very strong and brave man. The minister’s plan was for each of them to spend a night in the haunted room. They wouldn’t speak a word of what they saw until all four were together again afterwards. If their stories corroborated each other, then there was obviously something in the ghost story.

Each man would be locked in the room overnight and a couple of them in particular the Shoemaker, did not like that idea but took part when the minister pressured them.

The Minister was the first to stay the night. He fell asleep and dreamt that a gigantic blood splattered Highlander walked into the room and sat down next to him. He awoke with a start to find nobody there.

It was the Church Elder’s turn to stay the next night. He was sitting reading the Bible when the Highlander walked into the room. He just sat there paralyzed by his fright. The huge Highlander was standing right in front of him and behind him the Elder saw a the image of a skull face grinning back at him. The Highlander wanted to know what he was doing in the room, but the man was so terrified he couldn’t speak. This infuriated the Highlander so that he whipped out his dagger and lunged towards him at which point the Elder fainted dead away.
The story continues with more eerie elements:

Next it was the reluctant shoemaker’s turn to spent the night. He tried the locked door, then looked out the window but saw there was no escape that way - the drop was certain death.

So he sat by the fire and prayed. It was well past midnight when he silently watched in terror as the door knob turned. With his heart nearly beating out of his chest he could only stare wide eyed, shaking to the bone as the door slowly opened. In the doorway was a large dark shape that just stood there staring at him the shoemaker knew at once that this was the Devil himself. Watching in horror as the Devil walked towards him on cloven hooves and sat in the chair next to him. The Shoemaker sat there, rigid, hoping to die. Too scared to look the Devil’s way, he glanced at a mirror where he saw in its reflection, a skull face directly behind him. As he was desperately trying to convince himself that there was nothing in the room behind him, there was the sound of cloven hooves hitting the floor, when the Devil, all of a sudden, leaping out of his chair, just about scared the poor Shoemaker to death, he passed out cold.

The fourth night, it was the turn of Rob Angus. This big, kind highland man was afraid of nothing. With good humor he waved off the servant who was there to lock the room. The servant was an old drinking companion of Rob Angus and as he closed the door, he said he would see Rob in the morning Rob replied, You will find me as I am, or dead.

He was the last person to see Rob alive. The next morning he went up to the Tower to unlock the door and could not believe his eyes. The room was completely ransacked, everything was tossed about, with the furniture broken and the mirror in pieces and no sign of his friend Rob. Seeing that the window’s glass had been broken out the man ran to the window, as he looked out he saw Rob’s body lying twisted and broken on the ground below, with a look of horror frozen on his face.

The end...was told by a drover who’d been looking after his sheep late around the castle. About half past midnight, he’d heard the sound of a terrible struggle. He’d looked up at the window of the Haunted Room and by the light spilling out from it, he saw the body of a large man, explode through the glass, but even more so, when he looked up again at the window he saw the face of the Devil grinning down at him.”

So if you ever find yourself in Scotland, visit the Stuart Castle. Even if you don't find ghosts, you will be impressed with the beautiful view.
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