GREGOR STEWART, author of Haunted Kirkcaldy, picks five of his favourite hauntings from the Lang Toun for Spooky Isles
The town of Kirkcaldy, which sits on the east coast of Scotland in the county of Fife, approximately twenty miles south from the more famous town of St. Andrews and eleven miles north of Edinburgh (which sits on the opposite side of the Firth of Forth), dates back to the eleventh century when the lands were gifted by King Malcolm III of Scotland to the monks of Dunfermline Abbey. Having grown as a mining town and later through textile manufacture, Kirkcaldy is now the largest town in Fife.
Ravenscraig Castle, off the A955 Dysart Road
Dating back to the 15th century, this hidden gem of Scottish History is reported to be haunted by the ghost of a woman who wanders through the grounds of the ruins. Long believed to be the phantom of Mary of Gueldres, the wife of King James II who designed the castle, events in 1984 cast doubt on the spooks identity. Teenagers exploring a disused hospital beside the castle witnessed the same figure floating silently along one of the corridors, raising the possibility that the ghost is in fact one of the patients from the hospital, who were known to seek solitude away from the wards in the castle grounds.
The Feuars Arms, 28 Bogies Wynd, Kirkcaldy, KY1 2PH
Just a short distance from the town centre, this public bar retains an original Edwardian interior considered to be of national historic importance. Reports of paranormal activity, including items being moved, unattended beer pumps turning on and the sounds of a woman singing, have persisted down through the years. Staff have also felt an invisible hand tap them on the shoulder and one area of the cellar is said to be particularly cold, no matter how warm the rest of the building is. A number of investigations into the activity have been carried out, and on one occasion, a glass was witnessed by all present to slide unaided across a table.
The Old Kirk, 12 Hendry Road, Kirkcaldy, KY2 5JJ
The earliest written records of the Old Kirk, the oldest building in Kirkcaldy, date back to 1244 when Bishop de Bernham consecrated the building to St. Patrick and St. Brisse (St. Bryce). Despite the expectations of many, it is relatively rare for a church or cemetery to be haunted, unless some tragedy has happened there, and this is certainly true for the Old Kirk. On 15th June 1828, the Reverend Edward Irvine, a famous clergyman, attracted a large crowd. With the church filled to capacity, those on the upper gallery surged forward to see the Reverend enter, resulting in the gallery collapsing. Twenty eight people died and one hundred and fifty were injured in the disaster.
A lone figure has been glimpsed on several occasions standing in the corner of the church looking towards the gallery. Other reported incidents, always in the same corner, are cold spots, a vacuum cleaner that had been left there by a cleaner switching on by itself and an electrician being pushed from a ladder while carrying out repairs.
Betty Nicols, 297 High Street, Kirkcaldy KY1 1JL
Betty Nicols, originally known as the Victoria Bar, has operated as a pub since at least 1741. Retaining many original features, a warm atmosphere welcomes locals and visitors alike. The same cannot be said for the atmosphere behind the scenes, where a number of strange events have taken place. On one occasion, a cleaner arriving at around 7am found a tea light candle burning on a table in the back room. She was alone in the building, and CCTV footage showed the candle suddenly igniting during the night, with no visible cause. Other incidents include the ghostly figures of two men and a dog walking through the bar area, sudden drops in temperature, figures reflecting in mirrors that are not present and the sound of bells ringing. The number of incidents attracted the attention of well know and respected paranormal researcher, Archibald Lawrie, who spent time at the pub and stated that he felt the definite presence of spirits.
Balwearie Castle, Off the B925 Road
Little remains of this 13th century tower house that sits west of Kirkcaldy. The castle was once home to Sir Michael Scott, the Great Wizard of the North, leading to it being subject to much speculation about what happened within the walls. It was believed that Sir Scott had the power to control demons, and had even defeated the Devil himself. He was also said to have collected ghost during his travels through Europe, and when he returned to Balwearie, he brought these spirits with him to be used to serve meals to guests during banquets.
The castle is also haunted by the ghostly figure of a stonemason who was hung in front of the castle for murdering the wife and child of an earlier Lord Balwearie, and also a phantom piper, who died at a nearby cave that was said to blow the air from Hell. The pipers manic piping is said to still be heard to this day.