GREGOR STEWART continues his series looking at the Most Haunted Scottish Castles with today’s Crathes Castle in Aberdeenshire
Despite its ornate appearance, the original tower house of Crathes Castle was constructed for defence, with thick stone walls and steel gates designed to withstand attacks.
The estate was given to the Burnett family in the 14th century by King Robert the Bruce, though they originally took up residence in a timber fort on one of the islands in the estate, and work on the current castle was not started until 1553. The Burnett family occupied the castle as their home from its original construction until its care was passed to the National Trust in the 1950s.
The castle is said to be haunted by two female spirits although their stories often seem to have become intertwined.
The first dates back to the original crannog and is said to be that of a young lady named Bertha who stayed at the castle while her father was fighting abroad.
Bertha fell in love with the young Alexander Burnett, which met with disapproval from his mother, Lady Agnes, who wanted Alexander to marry into a noble family.
Alexander was soon sent abroad to fight and upon his return he was distraught to find that Bertha had suddenly and unexpectedly died.
His mother held a banquet to mark Alexander’s safe return and to try to lift his spirits, but when he reached for a specific wine goblet during the meal, she grabbed the goblet from his hands and threw it out into the lake before he could drink from it.
Suspicion was raised that she may have poisoned Bertha but had forgotten to dispose of the wine goblet she had used.
When Bertha’s father returned from abroad to collect his daughter and was told of her death, it is said that Lady Agnes screamed ‘she comes, she comes,’ before dropping dead herself. Other versions of the story say that Bertha’s father cursed the castle.
The Crathes Castle ghost is said to be seen within the castle or walking towards the castle on the anniversary of her death.
Queen Victoria sees Crathes Castle ghost
The second ghost is a Green Lady who walks across one of the rooms in the castle, often carrying a baby, before disappearing into the wall beside the fireplace.
She is said to have been witnessed by Queen Victoria during her stay at the castle.
The possible identity of this figure has never been established although she is believed to be a servant who became pregnant to one of the other servants in the property.
When he was dismissed, the servant girl also disappeared, and it was as though she and their baby went with him.
However, when workmen were carrying out renovation work in the castle they discovered the skeletal remains of a woman and a baby underneath the hearth of the fireplace.
It was after this discovery the green lady was first witnessed walking to the fireplace where the remains were found.