Google+ Badge

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Edinburgh Castle- One of Scotland's Most Haunted Places!

Welcome to Edinburgh Castle!

This is my 23rd "Haunted Places" blog post! Thank you to everyone who has followed and read my blogs. We are going out of the country again in this post, all the way to one of the most haunted places in Scotland; Edinburgh Castle.  Scotland has actually been proclaimed to be one of the most haunted countries on Earth.  The country has all of the key ingredients needed to create rumors that are whispered in corridors, and passed across the campfire, then brought to you in my blog! Scotland has dark skies, darker history, old towns and ancient tales that all add to the spooky experience, causing your mind to open a little. Perhaps you are a skeptic? Do you doubt the existence of the supernatural? That's fine, but perhaps you should reconsider.  Edinburgh Castle is a place that might just make you believe in ghosts, other supernatural phenomena, and things that go bump in the night.

 Over a million visitors flock to the castle each year.  It is built high upon a non active volcano overlooking the capital city of Edinburgh.  Edinburgh castle has a very haunted history. Many battles have been fought there over Scottish independence. Many Scots and Brits alike spilled their blood and died upon it's grounds and it's walls.  Edinburgh was exposed to battle for most of it's history. It was even mostly destroyed at one point to be rebuilt in 1356. During the Napoleonic War it was used as a prison to hold captured French and allies. In 1440 the Castle was home to the infamous "Black Bulls Diner," where 16 year old Earl of Douglas and his brother David were murdered in front of the 10 year old King James II.  The castle also is home to the "Witches Well," where women were put to death if convicted of witchcraft. There is also an extensive dungeon that claimed countless lives in it's long history of warfare

 In 1645, anyone who came into contact with a rat was likely to catch the Bubonic Plague. Then anyone they came in contact with might catch it as well. Scotland lost over a quarter of it's population as the Plague ravaged the country. At the height of the plague, when the fear of further outbreak was widespread, the dead and dying were rounded up and placed into unused tunnels, vaults and passageways underneath the grounds. Now they are called, Marys Kings Close, and very haunted. The chambers were sealed up tight, leaving those still alive inside to die horrible deaths.The doomed souls were abandoned, left only with their illness, suffering, and slowly taking their last breaths of stagnant, death filled air in the dark. The chambers are home to many tortured souls who died terrible deaths and seem doomed to haunt the passages for eternity. 

The Plague

The castle changed hands many times up until the 18th century.  With over 900 years of documented history behind the castle, it would almost be a surprise if the castle wasn't one of Scotland's most haunted sites.  Since it's construction  as a military fortress in the early 12th century, the castle has witnessed many battles, executions, the Black Plague, and even a brief capture by the English. Stories exist there that aren't painted on the tourist information boards.  There are underground tunnels, dungeons, the spirit of a wandering piper, ghostly drums heard in the castle walls, and dark figures.  Welcome to Scotland's haunted Edinburgh Castle, that I've officially added to my list of Haunted Places that I'd Love to visit!

depiction of the Black Plague

The volcanic crag that Edinburgh castle sits on was formed around 70 million years ago and the castle is protected on 3 sides with sheer cliffs that rise sharply over 400 feet! I find this fascinating. The plug of the extinct volcano is estimated to have risen approximately 350 million years ago during the Carboniferous period.  The Castle Rock is the remnant of a volcano pipe, which broke through the surrounding sedimentary rock before cooling to form dolerite, which if a very hard type of basalt, or igneous rock.  The dolerite protected the softer rock to the east, from subsequent glacial erosion, leaving a crag and tail formation. 

 Now, Archaeologists have even dated human occupation all the way back to the Iron Age in 2nd century AD!  Historical references known as Din Eidyn or "Fortress on the Rock," place a fortified settlement there around 60 AD.  If that is true, that is incredible and more historic than most think.  It was renamed Edinburgh in 638 AD, when the Angles captured the fortress, and held it for 300 years.  The fortress became a castle in 1130 AD, when King David I, expanded the original fortress and developed Edinburgh as a seat of royal power. His late mother, Queen Margaret had passed away there and he expanded it, intending for it to be a memorial to her as she was well known for her kindness to the less fortunate. Upon her death, she was canonized as Saint Margaret. It is now called St. Margaret's Chapel, the oldest building of Edinburgh Castle, built in memory of Queen Margaret.  There are stained glass windows with pictures of her.  The legend says that she died of a broken heart in 1093.  She heard the news that her husband, King Malcolm III had died and it was too much for her to take. 

St. Margaret's Chapel

Chapel in honor of the late Queen Margaret

During construction, in the early days of Edinburgh Castle, a tunnel system was discovered beneath the very hill that the castle sits upon today. It led along the Royal Mile, towards what is known as the Palace of Holyroodhouse.  This was found when a single man was sent into the tunnels to survey them.  In retrospect, that turned out to be a bad idea for the unfortunate fellow. The man took his bagpipes with him, playing his tune as he went so that those above him could listen and figure out where he was. About halfway on his journey, the piper's music stopped abruptly.  When a search party was sent into the tunnel to find the piper, they never found a trace of him. But it is said that to this day, the sound of the piper's song can be faintly heard beneath and within the castle.  

There was also a drummer boy that haunts the castle.  He was killed in one of the many battles that took place there.  He was decapitated by a cannon ball or a sword.  He was first seen before Cromwell's attack on the castle in 1650.  Over the centuries, the ghost of the headless drummer boy has been seen roaming the grounds, many times before an attack.  As if it were an omen, the castle would be attacked by opposing armies.  The drummer boy still wonders the grounds, playing the drums.  You may just hear the drums if you listen hard enough.  

Scottish Crown Jewels
"Stone of Destiny"

Some things that had been lost in the castle through the years have been rediscovered.  For example, the Scottish crown jewels, some of the oldest in European history were lost for over one hundred years, then discovered in a locked chest deep within the Edinburgh Castle vault.  Also, the Stone of Scone, or the "Stone of Destiny," or "Corinthian Stone," was recovered in the castle as well. These items are on display now for all the see a part of Scottish history that was once lost. There are also statues of King Robert the Bruce and William Wallace that flank the entrance, as a reminder of the price of Scottish freedom and to honor the fallen.  The tale of William Wallace was very real. They have actors that do reenactments in the dungeon during the tours.  Now reincarnated as a top tourist attraction, the Castle offers haunted tours of it's dungeons.  Over 1,000 prisoners were kept, tortured and perished there.  Most who went there, took their last breaths there. There are ghosts of French prisoners from the Seven Years War, and colonial prisoners from the American Revolutionary War there.  It once held the Duke Alexander Stewart of Albany, who actually escaped, by stabbing his guards to death and burning their bodies. There was also Lady Janet Douglas of Glamis who was accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake. 

William Wallace dungeon reenactment

Robert the Bruce
ghostly image in hall

One of the Dungeon cells

In 2001, Edinburgh castle was the site of the largest paranormal investigation in history.  A team of 9 researchers and over 200 members of the public explored the castle's forgotten chambers and secret passages for signs of ghostly happenings.  The public was not told which areas of the castle were rumored to be haunted and which areas were not.  51% of participants in haunted areas reported paranormal experiences, while only 35% did so in the non-haunted areas. Feel free to draw your own conclusions. Shadowy figures, sudden drops in temperature, feelings of being watched and touched were all reported.  They are everyday experiences in Edinburgh castle.  Some visitors have just felt a presence, or their clothing was pulled on, as if by a dying plague victim asking for help, taking their last breaths, as their lungs filled with blood.  As you've read, there are many reasons for the hauntings, and many horrible deaths over the span of centuries; or even longer.  There are many unsettled spirits that freak out visitors to this day.  This is not a place for the faint of heart. There are extremely cold spots that have been reported in different areas of the castle grounds and many people have felt as if they were being watched by invisible eyes.  Shadow figures also make appearances in the halls.

Carvings on a dungeon door by actual prisoners 
In the Great Hall of the Castle, there's a small window or hole above the fireplace.  This is called Laird's Lugs in Scotland, which means "Lord's ears".  King James IV would use this window to eavesdrop on important meetings.  When Gorbachev planned to visit the castle in 1984, the Soviet National Security insisted that the hole should be closed because it was so effective and was a safety risk.  

Laird's Lugs
Great Hall Roof

There's also, Mon's Meg Cannon, which is a huge super gun that was made around 1449.  It used to fire huge solid stone cannonballs, almost 3 times the size of a human head.  Considering the year it was made, it is amazing that the cannon could fire a distance of 2 miles, especially with the cannonballs weighing in at 400 pounds!  The ritual of firing the One O' Clock Gun continues to date. The gun is fired every day except Sunday.  This began in 1861.  It is even said that someone gave birth in it because it is so huge they were able to hide in it and give birth. That is more of a story than a fact. It could be true. But is interesting nonetheless. 

Mon's Meg Cannon
One O' Clock Firing

I could go on and on, but how about you should add Edinburgh Castle to your "Haunted Places to Visit" list and go see this historic marvel! You can take haunted Edinburgh tours, or just buy tickets to tour the castle itself.  With all of the ghostly experiences people have had and it's chilling history, I can't wait to visit!  I dare you to challenge yourself, to open your mind, and visit Edinburgh, the most haunted city in Scotland.  I also happen to have some Scottish heritage and am particularly interested in Scotland as a whole. It is a beautiful country, and the whole country is haunted. That would be a perfect vacation for me!  

The Royal Apartments

Swords in the Great Hall

A ghostly figure caught when no one was in the room

Possible ghost of a soldier?

A figure in a room-look at the chair

Use your imagination ;)