Oct. 30, 2022

Edinburgh Castle // 135 // Haunted

Edinburgh Castle // 135 // Haunted

Edinburgh Castle is a historic castle in Edinburgh, Scotland that stands on Castle Rock.  There is evidence that at least 26 sieges took place which makes it one of the most besieged landmarks in the world.  Reports of ghost sightings and paranormal activity dates back hundreds of years.


Edinburgh Castle is known as the most haunted place in Scotland and reports of ghosts or paranormal activity dates back hundreds of years. Visitors and staff members have experienced apparitions, being touched and pulled, the feeling of being watched, shadowy figures, mists, green lights, sudden temperature drops, and people suddenly becoming over-run by emotions. The most common experience is seeing apparitions. People claim that they have seen an older man in a leather apron, a headless drummer boy and the Grey Lady. Other reports include a poltergeist in the castle dungeon and a ghost dog in the dog cemetery. 

Edinburgh Castle is a historic castle located in Edinburgh, Scotland. It stands on Castle Rock and was built by Iron Age people. The Iron Age was a time that started around 500 BC in Scotland, the timing was different in other areas. Bronze was being replaced by iron as the product for making tools and weapons. Castle Rock was formed after a volcano erupted over 340 million years ago, so the volcano is extinct now and the first castle that existed on the rock was known as “The Castle of Maidens”. This is tied to the famous Arthurian legends. According to the pages of the medieval Welsh epic poem Y Gododdin from the 7th century AD, a fortress named “The Castle of the Maidens” served as a sanctuary to the Nine Maidens, one was the mighty enchantress Morgan le Fay, King Arthur's devoted protector. The first written reference to a castle rather than a fort occupying the top of Castle Rock occurs in 1093. Malcolm III King of Scots died and Queen Margaret went to bed and died of a broken heart.

At that time, that castle had been known as the Castle of the the Maidens and there are really two legends behind the name. The first explains that the Picts kept their virgin princesses in the castle. The second legend says that it was named after Saint Moninne (ma-nin) and her nuns who founded a chapel on Castle Rock. Saint Moninne arrived with eight virgins and a widow. The widow brought her son with and he later became a bishop, so the virgins and widow were the nine maidens. Excavations under St. Margaret's Chapel in 1853, recovered a number of human bones and they were all female. 

Castle Rock has been a military base and royal residence for centuries. The castle has been present for many battles throughout history and it has also been sieged numerous times. Edinburgh Castle was built during the 12th century by David I, son of Saint Margaret of Scotland. Stories say that in 1070 AD, the Scottish King Malcom III married an English princess. She was known for being generous and fair, so she became known as Saint Margaret of Scotland or “The Pearl of Scotland.” Her husband died in battle and she was stricken with grief, so she died of a broken heart just a few days after she heard the news. Her son David I had the grand castle constructed and added a chapel to honor her. 

Edinburgh Castle was developing into a royal fortress during the reign of King David I, King of Scots from 1124 to 1153. On the night of March 19th, 1286, Alexander III left the castle after celebrating his second marriage. A storm was rolling in and he was warned to wait things out, but he refused because the next day was his bride's birthday. He became separated from his group that night and plunged over a steep embankment to his death. Tensions were growing between Scotland and England and Alexander III death plunged them into a bitter war.

He who held the castle held rule over the city of Edinburgh and all of Scotland, so that's why the castle was constantly under siege. The first major battle was during the late 13th century when Edward I of England attempted to seize the vacant Scottish throne. During 1296 to 1341, the castle went back and forth from English to Scottish monarchies during the First and Second Wars of Scottish Independence. There is historical evidence suggesting that at least 26 sieges took place at the castle which makes it one of the most besieged landmarks in the world. Half of the battles actually took place during a short period of 50 years when the castle when back and forth between Scottish and English during the Wars of Independence from 1296 to 1341.

During this time, the entire castle was almost completely destroyed. When Robert Bruce laid siege in 1314, he destroyed every building except one: Margaret's Chapel and that is still intact today and it's one of the oldest surviving buildings in Scotland. After the Wars of Independence, the castle needed to be repaired. David II was there to oversee most of this construction in the 14th century and in his honor, David's Tower was built.

On June 19th, 1566, The future King Jamev VI (6th) of Scotland and I of England was born at Edinburgh Castle and his mother was Mary Queen of Scots. In 1800 the skeleton of an infant was found within the castle walls. There are rumors that the skeleton is actually James VI. It's believed that he was murdered as a child and swapped out with an imposter who was put on the throne. Just 14 months after the child was born, his father was murdered and the infant was crowned king.

In 1571, English forces laid seige to the city of Edinburgh in an attempt to capture Mary, Queen of Scots. The siege lasted for two years and was known as the long or lang siege. By February of 1573, all of Mary's supporters had surrendered to the English and David's tower was destroyed.

In 1650, Oliver Cromwell executed Charles I and led an invasion of Scotland and the castle was taken over by the English in August of that year.

Next is the Jacobite Risings from 1688 to 1746 and the Scots attempted to recapture their castle several times, but they were not able to overpower the English. The final attempt was in 1745 when the Jacobite army was led by Charles Edward Stuart. They were able to capture the city, but not the castle, so they were forced to retreat in November. 

The castle lost its status. It went from a defender of a nation to a prison and was used to hold military prisoners from the Seven Years War, the American Revolution, and the Napoleonic Wars during the late 18th century and early 19th century. The castle became a national monument in 1814 after a mass prison break. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the castle was restored. They started to hold military ceremonies at the castle and in 1927, part of it turned into the Scottish National War Memorial. The Edinburgh Castle is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in Scotland with more than a million visitors each year. 


Edinburgh Castle is one of Scotland's most haunted castles. When it was used as a prison, the prisoners were kept in the dungeons and this was a place for torture and misery. Many people see orbs or strange lights when they are in the dungeons and many tourists have captured these anomalies in their photos. 

It is believed that one of the prisoners has remained in the castle as a ghost. He was so desperate to escape that he buried himself inside a wheelbarrow full of manure. He expected to be wheeled outside to his freedom, but his plan didn't work out. The wheelbarrow was disposed of over the towering edge of Castle Rock, so he broke his neck and died. Stories say that this man attempts to push people in the castle and you can smell manure when he's around.

Underground tunnels were built leading from the castle and they were only discovered a few hundred years ago, it was too small to fit an adult, so a young boy was sent in. He was told to play his bagpipes as he walked through the tunnel so the people above ground could follow him. The tunnel is said to extend the length of the Royal Mile and exits at The Palace of Holyrood. The boy made it halfway down the Royal Mile, near the Tron Kirk and he went silent. No one knows what happened. A search party was assembled, but they couldn't find the boy and it's believed that he died in there. When the people couldn't find the piper, the tunnels were sealed and bricked over. Legend says that on a quiet night, you can still hear the muffled sound of the ghostly piper trying to find his way out of the tunnel.

The tunnel also has the ghost of a drummer boy and he appears to people as a headless apparition while he plays his drum. The legend of the drummer boy dates back to the 1650's and his spirit appeared when Oliver Cromwell's men were laying siege to the castle and he played an old Scottish war tune. It's known as a very bad omen to see him because he only appears right before the castle is under attack. The last report of someone seeing this boy was when the castle was under threat in 1745 and he hasn't been seen since. 

The spirit of a black dog is commonly seen running around the castle's grounds and then the dog just disappears. Many people believe that the dog is from the dog cemetery that exists at Edinburgh Castle. It contains many soldier dogs. This ghost dog is believed to be a royal watchdog that was trained to protect the castle.

People say they have seen the outline of a man in a leather apron and he can be seen walking through a doorway in one of the castle's haunted vaults.

A woman named Janet Douglas also known as Lady Glamis (Gloms) was accused of witchcraft by the current king of Scotland during the 1500s and she was thrown into a dungeon in the castle. Her family and servants were tortured to gain evidence of her being a witch. Her servants eventually cracked and gave false evidence against her. She was falsely accused of poisoning her first husband, John Lyon, 6th Lord of Glamis in 1528 and it was suspected that she was plotting against King James V (10th). Janet was tormented and suspected of treason for most of her life. She was sentenced to death and burned alive at the stake at the castle while her 16-year-old son was forced to watch. Many people have claimed to see Lady Glamis wandering through the castle hallways, but she is also known to haunt Glamis Castle as The Grey Lady of Glamis and is seen wandering through the family chapel and clock tower.

Janet Glamis is the Grey Lady at Glamis Castle, but she may not be the Grey Lady of Edinburgh Castle. Mary de Guise (gee-za) was the mother of Mary Qeen of Scots and she died at the castle from dropsy which is now known as Edema or a condition where you have excess fluids collecting in the cavities or tissues of the body. It's basically abnormal swelling. When Mary de Guise (gee-za) died, she was kept in a St. Margaret's Chapel, wrapped in shroud in a lead coffin for 9 months until she was secretly taken to France for burial.

In 1093 when there were two stone structures on Castle Rock, King Malcom III of Scotland died. His widow, Margaret who lived at the castle, found out that he died and she died a few days later. The King's brother sieged the castle. Workers at the castle have described a woman wailing in the night and it's heard more frequently in November which is when Margaret learned of her husband's death.

The dungeons are said to be the most haunted areas. Construction workers were hired in 2002-2003 to work in the Queen Anne Tower, but some of them refused to work alone in there. Hazy blue orbs have appeared above people's heads in photos taken in the tower.

In 2001, Dr. Richard Wiseman conducted a study with 240 volunteers. They were brought through the most haunted areas of Edinburgh Castle and they had no prior knowledge of ghost stories or hauntings. The group stayed at the castle for 10 days and nights. More than half of the participants reported paranormal experiences during their time in the castle and most of the reports were in the areas that are known to be haunted. They were able to pinpoint where the energy levels were different or more extreme. Participants reported sudden temperature drops, sounds of footsteps and breathing when no one else was around, seeing shadow figures, burning skin, feeling a presence is watching them and having their clothing tugged on.