STUART CASTLE  

SCOTLAND

 

The following information was  researched  by our volunteer team member
Carolyn D. Ahrns from Las Vegas, NV. Thank you very much!

 

Mary Queen of Scots was just 16 years old when her husband Francois II, Dauphin of France, died after only one year on the throne. Upon returning to Scotland she granted to her half brother, James Stuart, the title ‘Earl of Moray’. Along with his title he also received land and started to build Castle Stuart in 1561. James “ruled Scotland as Regent for her” when he was brutally murdered. The 2nd Earl of Moray also died a savage death, he was stabbed to death 13 times. Castle Stuart stood unfinished until 1625, when James Stuart, the 3rd Earl of Moray completed it. James married Anne Gordon, whose father, the Earl of Huntly, stabbed James’ father the 2nd Earl of Moray. It is said he built the castle for protection from his father-in-law.

The Stuart and the Clan McIntosh were involved in an on going feud and shortly after James had finished Castle Stuart it was attacked by 500 McIntosh clan members. Deciding it would be safer to flee, the Stuart left the castle never to return. Twenty years later the Stuart king, Charles I, was beheaded at his London Palace of Whitehall. King Charles I and the Lords of Castle Stuart were descend from the Royal House of Albany, who were rulers of Scotland. “The Stuarts and their kin wrote much of the bloody and poetic history that is Scotland’s heritage.”

Castle Stuart was slowly falling to ruin. Left untouched for nearly 300 years, it developed the reputation as being haunted. The Battle of Culloden was fought nearby in 1745. The battle ground is said to be haunted by ghosts of those who died there. “After the Battle of Culloden, the clans were defeated and the Stuarts were able to return to the castle.”

During a storm in 1798 the roof of the East Tower was blown off. “It was easier to block off the main part of the castle from its broken wing; so the East Tower with its staircases and attics was sealed off.”

In 1977 Stuart descendents bought and restored the castle as it was in 1625

THE GHOSTS:

(This story gave me goose bumps the first time I read it!)

During the 1930’s repairs to the East Tower were started. John Cameron, one of the workmen, stayed after the other workmen had gone home. “He tells how he was up on a ladder, working alone...” He noticed some of the plaster looked different. He realized after tapping the wall this was where the doorway was to the sealed off wing of the castle. This raised his curiosity so that he stayed and continued working, needing to know what was behind the wall when he uncovered some steps. “Then his chisel struck through into a void behind the wall. At that moment he heard a voice cry, ‘No!’ in half a strangled wail. His heart started to hammer, but he stood there, chisel in hand at the top of his ladder. He managed to convince himself that the voice was his imagination and he worked on. But then as he struck again, he was pushed full in the chest and fell backwards off the ladder. The air was filled with a strange force and a fetid smell. He ran out of the building to where his car was. But as he stood there, breathing heavily, he knew he had to go back in; he’d left all of his tools there, including his torch and all the temporary electric lights were blazing. What would people think if he admitted he’d fled because of ghost? So, he went back in, wedging the door open. He’d left his car’s headlights on, pointing at the door so that when he switched out the castle’s lights, he wouldn’t be left in complete darkness. The castle was silent. Mr. Cameron soon found his tools, and his torch, broken as he’d dropped it or kicked it. He took a few breaths and then switched off the lights. Instead of still being in the bright beams of the headlights, he found he was in utter darkness. In a panic, he felt his way, stumbling towards the door. It had closed, despite the wedge. Suddenly he felt icy fingers grab him and pull him back into the castle. His fear gave him strength and he pulled away, making it to the door and outside. He never entered the castle again.”

There is also a well known story about the Haunted Room which is the three turret room in the top of the East Tower:

“The tale told about the haunted room has the air of a folk story, but is widely believed to be true.” One of the Earls of Moray came to live in Castle Stuart, but didn’t stay long. “Though he didn’t see the ghost himself, he heard enough blood curdling noises to convince him he didn’t want to live at Castle Stuart.” He offered a reward of £20 to any man who would stay the night in the castle and “find out what was behind the haunting.” Even though it was a hefty sum for most, no one was eager to take him up on his offer.

Needing to prove his castle was not haunted the Earl asked the minister at Petty Church if he would offer the reward. The minister finally got three other men to accept the challenge, a Shoemaker, a Church Elder and a Highlander who was known to be a very strong and brave man. “The minister’s plan was for each of them to spend a night in the haunted room. They wouldn’t speak a word of what they saw until all four were together again afterwards. If their stories corroborated each other, then there was obviously something in the ghost story.”

Each man would be locked in the room overnight and a couple of them in particular the Shoemaker, did not like that idea but took part when the minister pressured them.

The Minister was the first to stay the night. He fell asleep and dreamt that a gigantic blood splattered Highlander walked into the room and sat down next to him. “He awoke with a start to find nobody there.”

It was the Church Elder’s turn to stay the next night. He was sitting reading the Bible when the Highlander walked into the room. He just sat there paralyzed by his fright. The huge Highlander was standing right in front of him and behind him the Elder saw a the image of a skull face grinning back at him. The Highlander wanted to know what he was doing in the room, but the man was so terrified he couldn’t speak. This infuriated the Highlander so that he whipped out his dagger and lunged towards him at which point the Elder fainted dead away.

Next it was the reluctant shoemaker’s turn to spent the night. “He tried the locked door, then looked out the window but saw there was no escape that way - the drop was certain death.”

So he sat by the fire and prayed. It was well past midnight when he silently watched in terror as the door knob turned. With his heart nearly beating out of his chest he could only stare wide eyed, shaking to the bone as the door slowly opened. In the doorway was a large dark shape that just stood there staring at him the shoemaker knew at once that this was the Devil himself. Watching in horror as the Devil walked towards him on cloven hooves and sat in the chair next to him. “The Shoemaker sat there, rigid, hoping to die.” Too scared to look the Devil’s way, he glanced at a mirror where he saw in its reflection, a skull face directly behind him. As he was desperately trying to convince himself that there was nothing in the room behind him, there was the sound of cloven hooves hitting the floor, when the Devil, all of a sudden, leaping out of his chair, just about scared the poor Shoemaker to death, he passed out cold.

“The fourth night, it was the turn of Rob Angus. This big, kind highland man was afraid of nothing. With good humor he waved off the servant who was there to lock the room. The servant was an old drinking companion of Rob Angus and as he closed the door, he said he would see Rob in the morning Rob replied, ‘You will find me as I am, or dead’.”

He was the last person to see Rob alive. The next morning he went up to the Tower to unlock the door and could not believe his eyes. The room was completely ransacked, everything was tossed about, “with the furniture broken and the mirror in pieces” and no sign of his friend Rob. Seeing that the window’s glass had been broken out the man ran to the window, as he looked out he saw Rob’s body lying twisted and broken on the ground below, “with a look of horror frozen on his face.”

“The end...was told by a drover who’d been looking after his sheep late around the castle. About half past midnight, he’d heard the sound of a terrible struggle. He’d looked up at the window of the Haunted Room and by the light spilling out from it, he saw the body of a large man, explode through the glass, but even more so, when he looked up again at the window he saw the face of the Devil grinning down at him.”

Information obtained from: Castle Stewart, castlestewart.com, Haunted Britain & Ireland, alfallon.com, and various other articles
 

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