Just 8 miles (11 km) south of Edinburgh, you can find Dalhousie Castle. This 13th century castle is located near Bonnyrigg, Midlothian Scotland, and has seen a lot of history. The castle has been owned by the same family for almost 800 years, which is quite unusual for a Scottish castle. A castle this old has a lot of stories to tell, including some haunted ones.
The history of Dalhousie Castle
Dalhousie Castle was first constructed in 1140 and has been the seat of the Earls of Dalhousie, the chieftains of Clan Ramsay. The oldest, still standing part was constructed in the 13th century which includes the vaults. Most of the castle’s construction as we know it today was constructed in the 15th century, including the Drum Tower. Dalhousie Castle used to be accessible by drawbridge over a moat only, but since the castle was turned into a hotel, the moat disappeared. Parts of it can still be seen.
King Edward I (also known as Longshanks) stayed at the castle in 1298 on his way to fight Sir William Wallace at the Battle of Falkirk. In 1400, Dalhousie Castle was under siege for no less than 6 months by Henry IV. Sir Alexander Ramsay was able to fight him off but was later abducted and starved to death at Hermitage Castle. Oliver Cromwell besieged the castle in 1648 and used it as a base for his invasion of Scotland. The seat of Clan Ramsay was moved to Brechin Castle in the 20th century, though it remained owned by this clan until 1977. It has had several tenants and functions during this time. It served as a boarding school in the 1950’s and turned into a hotel in 1972.
Many important guests
Dalhousie Castle has had several important guests during the centuries. Mary, Queen of Scots, spent a night at the castle June 30, 1563 before travelling to Rosslyn Castle while touring her realm. Sir Walter Scott stayed over in 1808, while visiting his school friend George, the 9th Earl of Ramsay. Queen Victoria visited the castle several times to have when she was in Scotland.
Cool and dark places of the castle
Dalhousie Castle has a lot of staircases, but not all of them are seen. There are some secret staircases that lead to several chambers and public rooms at the castle. In the library you’ll find a hidden bar behind a moving bookcase which is pretty cool. The castle’s dungeon was inventive, too, for it was bottle formed. Prisoners were lowered into the dungeon by a rope. The rope marks are still seen in the stonework. Nobody could escape the dungeons and its 11 feet (3,3 m.) thick walls.
The Grey Lady
Several ghosts are said to haunt Dalhousie Castle, but the most frequently seen ghost of the castle is The Grey Lady. The Grey Lady is assumed to be the ghost of Lady Catherine, the 16-year-old mistress of one of the Ramsay lairds. When his wife found out about the affair, she imprisoned the young girl in one of the turrets and left her to starve. The poor girl now haunts the turrets, the stairs, the main corridor and the dungeons.
She’s a very active ghost who likes to make herself present. She is the reason why ghost tours are now regular at the castle. Her rustling dress has been heard, she taps on doors and shoulders and is sometimes even seen sitting at the end of a bed. Oh, and she hates bagpipe music. When she’s near, bagpipes tend to play out of tune.
Other ghosts at Dalhousie Castle
Sir Alexander Ramsay has also been seen wandering the castle grounds. His remains were found one and a half centuries later when people were cleaning out the Hermitage Castle. He was finally given a proper funeral then, but his ghost prefers hanging out at his old home. Guests have also been complaining about a ghost that’s pulling their hair, but all ghosts at Dalhousie Castle mind their own business and are harmless. Which is quite amazing given the violent past!
Dalhousie Castle today
Visiting Dalhousie Castle will surely not disappoint you. You can stay over at one of the 29 luxurious rooms, relax at the Spa or enjoy dinner at one of the two restaurants. One of which is in the former dungeons! When your stay is longer than a few days, you can even take a 5-day falconry course, or you can pick up archery. Dalhousie Castle is also a much-loved wedding venue. One of the owls is trained to bring the rings to the best man in the chapel! I’d almost get married, just for that experience!
Do you want to read about other haunted places in Europe? Click here!
Cover photo: Tom Parnell via flickr CC BY-SA 2.0
Sources: Wikipedia, dalhousiecastle.co.uk, scotsman.com, telegraph.co.uk and hauntedrooms.co.uk.
Address: Cockpen Road, Bonnyrigg, EH19 3JB, Scotland