Edinburgh Castle: Scotland’s Haunted Castle

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.

Castle Rock and Edinburgh Castle in Scotland.
The haunted Edinburgh Castle sitting upon Castle Rock in Scotland.

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.

Cannons at Edinburgh Castle.
Cannons set at Edinburgh Castle, once used in battle.

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.

Dungeon in Edinburgh Castle.
A view of one of the castle’s most haunted places, the dungeon.

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 Castle dungeons.
Wandering through the haunted dungeons of Edinburgh Castle.

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.

Underneath a castle in Scotland.
Secret underground areas of the castle.

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.

Dungeons underneath Edinburgh Castle.
A stairway leading down underground into Edinburgh Castle’s dungeon.

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.

Armour and swords on display inside the Scottish Castle.
Armour and swords on display within Edinburgh 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.

Soldier dog cemetery at Edinburgh Castle.
The cemetery containing soldier dogs at Edinburgh Castle.

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.

Castle in Edinburgh, Scotland.
One of the buildings that make up part of the castle.

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.

Haunted places in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Spooky and haunted buildings of Edinburgh, Scotland.

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.’

War memorabilia inside Edinburgh Castle.
War memorabilia within the castle.

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.

Tall windows within the haunted castle.
Tall, stained glass windows offering light within the castle.

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.

Looking for the ghosts of Scotland's most haunted castle.
Exploring the ground of one of Scotland’s most haunted castle.

If you enjoyed this article, why not check out the nearby haunted Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh.

Thanks for reading!

xoxo

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Amy

About Amy

Amy is a world traveller and explorer of creepy locations. She has visited some of the most famously haunted places around the world in search of evidence of the paranormal. Follow Amy's Journey:

Comments (2)

  • 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.

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