With a rich history of ancient castles, bloody battles, myths, legends and lore, it is not surprising that Scotland has spawned some delightfully spooky stories.
Prepare for a scare as Fiona Hendrie rounds up our top ten creepy tales…
Flannan Isle Lighthouse on Eilean Mòr is best known for the mysterious disappearance of its keepers in 1900. The disappearance was discovered when a ship passed the darkened structure. When rescuers arrived they discovered a puzzling scene with no sign of the men in the lighthouse or anywhere on the island. The clocks in the lighthouse had stopped, a chair had been overturned in the kitchen and one set of oilskins was found hanging by the door suggesting that one of the men left in a hurry leaving them behind despite the severity of the weather. Rumours of madness, ghosts, kidnapping by spies and even a sea monster have all been suggested as the reason for their strange disappearance.
The Pends is an ancient street snaking down the edge of the ruins of the St Andrew’s historical Cathedral. Supposedly haunted by a veiled nun and a spectral coach hauled by four black horses, the street ranks amongst the most haunted in the world. The neighbouring Cathedral is also said to be the residence of two ghosts; a woman wearing white gloves is said to roam the grounds before disappearing close to St Rule’s Tower and a friendly monk haunts the tower itself, helping visitors safely to the top.
In stormy weather on the night of December 28 1879, the Tay Bridge collapsed into the river taking with it a six carriages and 75 souls. It is said that on the anniversary of the tragedy a ghost train appears where the track would have laid, re-enacting its final journey before disappearing at the point where it would have plunged into the river.
Moving away from man made structures, Ben Macdhui is the second highest mountain in the UK and, according to legend, home to Am Fear Liath Mòr, the Big Grey Man. First reported by respected scientist Professor Norman Collie in 1891 when he recalled being followed by something whose footsteps crunched once for every three of his own causing him to flee down the mountain to the shelter of Rothiemurchus forest. Ghostly music and laughter has also been heard on the slopes of the Munro.
The picturesque Glamis Castle in Angus is rumoured home to many ghostly presences. The ghost of Earl Beadie supposedly roams the castle and visitors to the castle have reported waking in the night to find a dark figure of an armoured knight leering at them in their beds. A woman with no tongue is reportedly seen staring out of a barred window, her face badly wounded and a grey lady, believed to be the ghost of Lady Glamis who was accused of being a witch and executed, is said to still remain in the building.
The ghostly blast of bagpipes is reportedly heard coming from the network of caves within the cliffs of Clanyard Bar, near Stranraer. They are said to belong to a brave piper who ventured into the caves to rid them of the faeries who locals believed lived there. The piper was never seen again although, according to legend, his dog came running out of the cave several hours later terrified and howling.
Deep beneath the bustling streets of Edinburgh, the underground passage Mary King’s Close is said to still be home to residents that lived there hundreds of years ago. The most famous of which is that of a little girl who reportedly died of illness in 1645 and was making herself known to present day visitors, distraught as she no longer had her beloved doll. Visitors to the tourist attraction now leave toys in the room where the girl supposedly roams.
Home to a brutal massacre in 1692, Glencoe bore witness to one of the bloodiest events in Scottish history. Some 38 members of Clan MacDonald were slaughtered by Clan Campbell and a further 40 are thought to have died from exposure after their homes in the bleak and wild glen were razed to the ground. To this day, unsuspecting visitors to the glen have reported catching glimpses of bloody re-enactments of the murders as well as hearing the screams and the clashing of weapons echoing around the glen.
Overtoun Bridge, near to Overtoun House in West Dunbartonshire is the site of sinister goings on. Since the 1950s, 600 dogs have leapt over the stone sides of the ancient bridge with 50 losing their lives on the rocks below. This has prompted claims that the bridge is haunted by something menacing with many owners also reporting
the feeling of hands pushing and prodding them as they make their way across the bridge. So severe is the problem that the owners of the bridge have been forced to put up a sign advising that all dogs should be kept on leads.
Sandwood Bay, Sutherland is said to be home to ghostly sailors whose ships were wrecked before the lighthouse was built in the early 19 th century. The ruined Sandwood Bar Cottage is the setting for many of the tales including one that during stormy nights, residents of the cottage would awake to see a sailor hammering on the
window to be let in. When investigated further the man would simply disappear. Legends of mermaids, buried treasure and Viking hoards also abound in the hauntingly beautiful area.