Edinburgh is home to one of the most haunted places in Scotland, Edinburgh Castle. Come Explore its mystery with Haunted Journeys.
Castle Rock had been a military base and royal residence for centuries. However, the edifice that is known as Edinburgh Castle was built during the 12th century by David I, son of Saint Margaret of Scotland. It stands as one of the oldest fortified places in Europe.
Set upon its mighty rock, Edinburgh Castle’s strategic advantage is clear. Seeing the site’s military potential, Iron Age people built a hill fort on the rock. Early medieval poetry tells of a war band that feasted here for a year before riding to their deaths in battle.
With this long rich history as a royal residence, military garrison, prison, and fortress, it is alive with many exciting tales. The castle has had its share of witnessed surprise attacks, executions, and even a brief capture by the English.
It became Scotland’s chief royal castle in the Middle Ages, taking the role of headquarters for the sheriff of Edinburgh; military troops were stationed there, along with the royal gun train, and the crown jewels were stored. It was King David I who in 1130 first constructed some of the impressive and formidable buildings we see today. The chapel, dedicated to his mother, Queen Margaret, still stands as the oldest building in Edinburgh!
As well as guarding great moments in history, the castle has suffered many sieges. It survived a continual series of damage during the Wars of Scottish Independence with the “auld enemy”, the English. During the Wars of Independence, it changed hands many times. In 1314, the Scots retook the castle from the English in a daring night raid led by Thomas Randolph, nephew of Robert the Bruce.
The castle defenses have evolved over hundreds of years. Mons Meg, one of the greatest medieval cannons ever made, was given to King James II in 1457. The Half Moon Battery, built in the aftermath of the Lang Siege of 1573, was armed for 200 years by bronze guns known as the Seven Sisters. Six more guns defend the Argyle Battery, with its open outlook to the north.
The cells of its ancient dungeon, the site of uncounted deaths, could very well be an eternal place of unrest for numerous spirits.
With 900 years of history experienced in this property, there is no doubt the Edinburgh Castle is reputed to be one of the most haunted spots in Scotland. To permeate it, Edinburgh itself has been called the most haunted city in all of Europe.
Its dungeons played hosts to many strong phantoms, including the Duke Alexander Stewart of Albany (who escaped, stabbing his guards to death and then burning their bodies), Lady Janet Douglas of Glamis (accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake), and an unnamed piper who once wandered down one of the castle's underground passages and never returned. Today, they still remain.
On various occasions, visitors to the castle have reported the phantom piper, a headless drummer, the spirits of French prisoners from the Seven Years War, and colonial prisoners from the American Revolutionary War. There is even the ghost of a dog wandering in the grounds' dog cemetery. Shadowy figures, sudden drops in temperature, and the feeling of something tugging on your clothes are all everyday experiences in Edinburgh.
In 2001, Edinburgh Castle became the site of one of the largest paranormal investigations in history. As part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival, Dr. Richard Wiseman, a psychologist from Hertfordshire University in southeast England, enlisted the help of 240 volunteers to explore the allegedly haunted sites in a 10-day study. They 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 were not. 51% of participants in haunted areas reported paranormal experiences, while only 35% did so in the non-haunted areas.
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