Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
Edinburgh Castle is one of Scotland’s most recognizable and most haunted castles. This foreboding fortress towers high over Edinburgh from upon its rocky perch, known as Castle Rock. The land the castle exists upon has been occupied by humans since at least the Bronze Age, with the castle’s construction commencing later in the 12th century.
Since Edinburgh Castle was such an important stronghold for ruling Scotland, the rival English and Scottish Monarchies have fought over and taken turns in occupying the castle throughout history. This resulted in many sieges and battles being fought at the castle. There is historical evidence suggesting that at least 26 sieges took place at the castle, making it one of the most besieged landmarks in the world. With so many battles, suffering and death having occurred at Edinburgh Castle, it really comes as no surprise that it is considered to be haunted.
Haunted Edinburgh Castle Dungeon
Though there are many areas of Edinburgh Castle and its grounds that are said to be haunted, the castle’s dungeons are considered to be especially active. To understand the pain, suffering, torment and death within those dungeons is to understand why there could be residual energy left behind. Former prisoners who perished either from poor living conditions, malnourishment, disease or torture are still said to linger within Edinburgh Castle’s dark depths. Many visitors claim to have sighted them or even heard them down there.
One of these prisoners has a particularly dark story and is thought to have remained at the castle as a ghost. This prisoner was so desperate to escape his suffering, he buried himself within a wheelbarrow filled with dung. Being completely concealed in the feces he expected to be wheeled down the Royal Mile to freedom. Although his plan saw his escape from the dungeon, the barrow was disposed off over the towering edge of Castle Rock. Sadly, this man fell from the great height to his imminent death. Some say that he remains at the castle as a ghost. In his disgruntled rage, he is said to attempt to push people from the heights of the castle. Luckily, those who come into contact with this spirit are usually made aware he is around, as his presence is accompanied by the strong stench of dung.
Edinburgh’s Ghostly Piper
Another ghost story of Edinburgh relates to a young piper boy. After underground tunnels leading from the castle were discovered a few hundred years ago, people grew curious as to where they stretched. An entrance to these tunnels was located, yet its small opening meant that only a young boy could be sent down to explore.
This young boy was forced into the task and instructed to play his bagpipes as he followed the tunnel. The sound allowed those above ground to track where he was and follow his progress. The boy made it halfway down the Royal Mile before suddenly falling silent. Though rescue efforts were attempted, the boy was never located. No one really knows what happened to the young lad, yet most people believe that he died down there. Legend has it that on a still quiet night you can still hear the muffled sound of the boy’s bagpipes playing as he continues to search for a way out of the tunnel.
The Ghost Drummer Boy of Edinburgh Castle
Strangely enough, another young boy with an instrument haunts Edinburgh Castle. This young boy generally appears to people as a headless apparition and is always playing his drum. To see this spirit is a very bad omen as he will only appear right before the castle comes under attack. As it has been a long time since the castle’s last attack, no one has seen this spirit in a long time. There is still a lot of mystery around this young boy as nobody really knows, who he is, or why he is at the castle.
The Ghost Dog of Edinburgh Castle
Another spirit that is commonly seen at the castle is that of a black dog. This animal is often seen running around the castle’s grounds before suddenly disappearing into thin air. Many people believe that this dog is somehow tied to the dog cemetery which exists at Edinburgh Castle. This small cemetery contains many soldier dogs, which some people believe could be the ghost dog.
A Witches’ Ghost at Edinburgh Castle
Yet, another spirit at the castle also met a tragic end. This is the spirit of Janet Douglas or Lady Glamis. She was accused of witchcraft by the current king of Scotland during the 1500s. After this accusation, Janet was thrown into the Edinburgh Castle dungeon. Her family and servants were then tortured to gain evidence against her of being a witch. Eventually, Janet was sentenced to death and burned alive at the stake at the castle, with her young 16-year-old son onlooking.
Many people claim this traumatic death has caused the Lady Glamis to return to the castle as a ghost, though she is also believed to haunt another Scottish castle that she once lived within.
A Paranormal Experiment at Edinburgh Castle
One of the most interesting ghostly stories of Edinburgh Castle relates to how its paranormal activity has been investigated. In 2001 Dr. Richard Wisman conducted a study that included over 200 participants. These people were moved through some of the most haunted areas of Edinburgh Castle, without any prior knowledge of ghost stories or supposed hauntings. The findings show that more than half of the participants reported having an unexplainable paranormal experience during their time in the castle. These were surprisingly mainly reported within areas that are known to be ‘haunted.’
Some reports included sudden temperature drops, seeing shadow figures, burning skin, feeling like a presence is around watching them and even having clothing tugged. Whilst these findings cannot conclude for certain that Edinburgh Castle is haunted, they are very interesting.
Visiting the Haunted Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle is open as a tourist attraction containing the Scottish Crown Jewels, the Scottish National War Monument and Museum. Tickets can be purchased ahead of time online. Crowds can become large at certain times of the year, especially during the Summer months.
If you enjoyed this article, why not check out the nearby haunted Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh.
Thanks for reading!
Posted by Jennifer Layne on October 4, 2019
I went looking for stories about the dungeons being haunted because I just returned from a trip to Scotland and Ireland. I was in the dungeons in Edinburgh castle and felt someone grab my shoulder. It was strong enough that I turned around to see if it was someone in my tour group but no one was there. Spooked me. This was right after I heard a tour guide describing Mary queen of Scots to have red hair and fair skin ( much like myself) kind of wondering if the ghost may have thought I was Mary.
Posted by Amy on October 4, 2019
Hi Jenniefer. That sounds like an incredible paranormal experience. Thank you for sharing it with me. I am glad you got to visit this wonder for yourself as it is an amazing location with a lot of history. Thanks again for sharing your story.
Posted by Kris on November 16, 2022
I have had a bad and overwhelming experience there in those prison dungeons and have a photo that captured a tall man standing through me you can cleary see his jacket white shirt eyes and mouth open smiling. My eyes dont even look like me.on the photo and the odd thing is when i first entered i felt i needed to get out. Could feel a very un nerving presence but their was a tour group coming in and i couldnt get passed to walk back out so went thru the prison dunegon tour anyway. I regret it as my health and luck has detoriated ever since that day. I can send the pic if like
Posted by Amy on January 3, 2023
Hi Kris, thanks for sharing this. We don’t currently accept photos for review but I appreciate the offer. I’m sorry to hear about your health. I always give benefit of the doubt when it comes to anything medical and always assume it is not the result of paranormal activity, always seeking advice from a medical professional. All the best.