Hallowe’en is that time of year when the ghosts get no peace and everyone is on the hunt for a good scare. There are several places where you might find something undead lurking, but the problem is where to choose. MJ STEEL COLLINS shows us just a few you may want to check out in Scotland.
The Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, Ramsay Lane, Edinburgh, EH1 2ND
This was originally home to the Ragged School, established by Rev Thomas Guthrie and was funded by public subscription in 1847. Providing shelter, education and training for destitute children, the school operated into the early 20th century. Following the school’s closure, the building lay empty for about 50 years. The Camera Obscura Museum is located in the neighbouring building, the owners of which bought the empty Ragged School to extend their premises. Both buildings share a basement Ghostly activity abounds and several paranormal groups have investigated. Sounds of children playing have been heard, and some have reported a general feeling of sickness, despite the school being a happy place. It is believed that some ghosts from the school have moved next door into the Camera Obscura Museum, owing to strange activity, and museum staff are reluctant to go down into the basement. More on the haunting can be read here. The Camera Obscura and World of Illusions website is here.
Provanhall House, Auchinlea Park, Easterhouse, Glasgow G34 9PQ
Previously featured on Spooky Isles, Provanhall is thought to be the oldest house in Glasgow. It was once the hunting lodge of Richard III, when it belonged to Glasgow Cathedral as a Prebend. Mary, Queen of Scots is also thought to have stopped here. The haunting itself is believed to be linked to the murder of a young woman and her toddler son when the woman’s husband returned from army service. He had been away for several years, so the young lad was a mystery. The soldier slaughtered both in the upstairs bedroom, known now as the ‘haunted room’ in a fit of rage. The ghosts of all three haunt the building, as well as the ghosts of other previous residents, including the final owner, Reston Mather. The level of ghostly activity makes the house very popular with paranormal teams. The house is open to the public. Caretaker Stevie is usually more than happy to give guided tours and his own take on the spirits – visit the Provanhall Heritage Group website for more info.
Rothesay Castle, Isle of Bute, PA20
Described as one of Scotland’s most impressive castles, Rothesay Castle sports that ubiquitous Scottish ghost, a Green Lady. The story dates back several centuries. When the Isle of Bute was raided by Vikings, one of the raiders wanted to make Lady Isobel his wife. She had already seen her family murdered by the Vikings and certainly didn’t want to become the wife of one, so she committed suicide by throwing herself downstairs. The Castle itself is owned by Historic Scotland and open to the public – see their site for more details.
Covenanters Prison, Greyfriars Kirkyard, Candlemakers Row, Edinburgh, EH1 2QQ
One of the most documented hauntings in the UK, the Black Mausoleum in Covenanter’s Prison is home to the Mackenzie Poltergeist. A visit to the ghost is the end of one of Edinburgh’s most popular ghost tours, City of The Dead, and strange things are said to happen. People have fainted, been scratched and had the general bejesus scared out of them. The ghost is thought to be linked to the close proximity of the tomb of Sir George Mackenzie, Scotland’s Lord Advocate who headed the persecution of Covenanters in the 17th century. Several hundred were imprisoned at his behest in what is now the Covenanter’s Prison, many of whom died. It’s thought the Covenanters’ spirits are uneasy at Mackenzie lying at rest (or not as some of the stories go) mere metres from where he imprisoned them. The Mackenzie Poltergeist has made a previous appearance on Spooky Isles and details of the City of the Dead Tour can be found here.
Provand’s Lordship, Castle Street, Glasgow, G4 0RH
The official oldest house in Glasgow, Provand’s Lordship was built in 1471 as part of the Cathedral property, probably to house priests. It’s certainly an interesting place; the mannequins alone would give you the heebie jeebies, never mind the ghosts. A few paranormal groups have been to visit. There have been the sound of horses’ hooves clopping away and psychic David Wells detected a female spirit, though the staff appear to pooh-pooh the idea of ghosts. Still a cracking place to visit. See the website for details (http://www.glasgowlife.org.uk/museums/provands-lordship/Pages/default.aspx)