Haunting the Castles of Scotland

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by Karen Richards

My husband’s family hails from Scotland, and this summer we planned a trip to visit the home of his ancestors. Scotland is a land of great beauty, well-known for its many lochs, glens, moors and purple heather growing abundantly on the hills. That is what many tourists come there to see, but it is not the whole picture. As a medium and paranormal investigator I decided to experience this land through its stories, its history, and… its ghosts.

Our first stop was Edinburgh castle which was built on a 700 million year old extinct volcano. As I climbed toward the castle, my senses traveled beyond the laughter of the other tourists. The feelings of the people who dwelled here over the centuries flowed over me like water, and I felt the struggle of their day to day lives. Entering inside the castle walls, I could feel the strength of this stronghold and the history flowing out of the very rocks on which it stands. The castle was originally built in the 12th century and has seen many major battles. It changed hands many times throughout history between the Scots and the English. I felt the residual energy there of the countless prisoners that were locked up here and forgotten. They tell their stories of the pit prison that remains under the floor of King James’ birth chamber through the anguish and despair they left behind.

East of the castle on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh are two well-known haunted locations: Mary King’s Close and the Underground Vaults. We visited both. In the close, I felt the presence of a small child who, according to our guide, was most likely, “Annie.” Annie was believed to have been abandoned by her parents when she contracted the bubonic plaque. Today in the room which they call Annie’s room there is a corner filled with dolls. People touring the castle leave toys; and when the corner is nearly overflowing, many of the toys are donated to charities. There seemed to be a lightness to the room and the presence, yes, of a child, but one that feels truly loved. Maybe Annie feels the kindness of the strangers who honor her with their gifts, or perhaps she has finally been reunited with her mommy.

Across the street is the meeting place for the Underground Vaults tours. After an introduction by our guide, Hannah, to some of the more gruesome aspects of public torture, we were led down a series of streets and closes to the entrance to the vaults. Hannah told ghostly tales of the lights going completely off and flashlights being drained, leaving all in pitch darkness. Then she followed with the tale of a malevolent spirit, called alternately “The Watcher” or “Mr. Boots.” He is thought to be a murderer that lurks within the dark corridors.

There is an uneasy feeling in these spaces and I became very much aware of the presence of an ominous figure, perhaps the infamous Mr. Boots, I thought. Our group moved quickly through this area, but I decided to go back and see if I could find Mr. Boots myself. I hurried back into the dark corridors with my camera in hand. “Mr. Boots, I know you’re here. Make your presence known,” I insisted. And then I readied my camera and took several photos. As I hurried to once again catch up to the group, I felt my hair being pulled, and someone’s breath on my neck. I’d made contact, and he was following me! Later on examining my photos, I discovered a large red orb in one of the shots in the corridors. I’ve seen orbs in photos I’ve taken, but never a red one. I strongly believe that orb is the angry Mr. Boots.

My husband and I continued on through Scotland, stopping at many castles. One story in particular that intrigued me was that of the grey lady of Glamis castle, who is reportedly, the ghost of Lady Janet Douglas, who lived a happy life at Glamis until the death of her husband in 1528. Unfortunately, King James V hated the Douglas family and with her husband no longer there to protect her, King James lashed out at Lady Janet. He accused her of being a witch and tortured her servants into proclaiming her guilt. She was then taken to Edinburgh castle where she was burned at the stake.

I was particularly interested in this tour because of an experience I’d had prior to our trip. In planning which locations to visit, I had come across the tragic story of Lady Glamis. During a meditation, I saw myself looking out the window of a castle. In the vision I saw a lush green lawn and a round tower with a path that ran past it. On that path, I saw Lady Glamis. It was a strong image and it remained with me.

When we toured the Castle, I was startled to come across the exact window I’d seen in my vision. When I looked out that window I saw the same scene I’d witnessed in my meditation… and the same woman. Lady Glamis stopped and looked at me, and I heard, “I understand your intentions. I know you’ve come to help me, but I want you to know that I am happy now. I’ve come home.”

After three days, we decided to leave Edinburgh and travel to the countryside. It was a nice break from the ghost tours and the stories of death and suffering. The next morning, I got up and realized, however, I was not alone in my room. I was in the presence of a Scottish gentleman with a thick brogue who introduced himself as Shamus McKenzie. “I’ve come to be your guide while you’re here in Scotland.” “You’re a guide?” I asked him. “At your service,” was his reply.”

He made me laugh and seemed friendly enough, so I told him he could hang around. I would hear little bits and pieces from Shamish as we traveled. One day we went to Cairngorm Mountains in the highlands. We took a funicular to the top of the mountain and then decided to walk down. The journey down was steeper and far more difficult than we had expected. I was focusing on the descent and getting anxious. Then, I heard Shamish’s reassuring voice, “Lassie, don’t you know where you are? You’re in the highlands of Scotland. Relax and take time to look around ye.” When I looked up, I saw heather everywhere, lush green meadows around me and the loch down below. I took a sigh of relief and relaxed. It changed my outlook entirely.

Then one night, my husband heard me talking with Shamish. I was scolding him for getting a little too personal. He was no guide; he was a ghost, and a flirtatious one at that. “Boundaries!” I told him. “I think it’s time to move on.” Throughout Scotland we managed to find more haunted places than we had time to investigate, heard more ghost stories than we could recount, and met a few spirited characters. I came away from this experience appreciating Scotland’s beauty and the resilience and fortitude of its people.

Karen is also a lifelong psychic/medium who provides insights and spiritual coaching to her clients. In addition, she performs house clearings and blessings, conducts Reiki healing sessions, teaches intuition classes and leads a local paranormal investigation group. Contact Karen through her website: www.TheMediumNextDoor.com