Ardvrek Castle’s history is full of supernatural tales of mystery, including a Weeping Ghost, writes LES HEWITT
All of the Celtic nations have history chock full of legends, folklore and myths. Scotland has more than its fair share of these stories. Tales of this nature are not limited to places and venues that have seen a violent or bloody history.
The plethora of lochs, forests, glens, long forgotten towns and settlements, as well as ancient burial chambers, provide a wealth of superstition and folklore all the way back into prehistory.
One intriguing place that is well versed in history is Loch Assynt. Located close to Sutherland, it is a freshwater loch surrounded by mountains and offering stunning scenery and landscapes. Situated on one edge of the loch are the ruins of an ancient castle called Ardvreck Castle. Has this place got a tale or 10 to tell.
Weeping Woman of Ardvreck Castle
Like many castles, especially within the UK, reputations of prior owners/occupiers outlive residents themselves. In the case of Arkvreck Castle, one time residents apparently outdate the very structure too. The site has more than its fair share of hauntings. There is one in particular that has the kind of backstory not out of place within a big budget Hollywood production.
It can be argued that the most famous, or notorious of these, was the daughter of a MacLeod chief in the long distant past. Conclusion of her story insists that she was imprisoned in a rampart and managed to throw herself out of a window. Having accomplished this daring act of she drowned in the loch.
The Weeping Woman, as she has become known, was being coerced into marriage she really wasn’t too keen on fulfilling. She likely saw this as her only way to avoid that fate. Arranged marriages were nothing new or outrageous for Rulers or Clan Leaders of the various Kingdoms that littered the nation of that time.
According to legend, however, this one was. During construction of the castle, which was done in two phases, the second being done something like a century after the original. At some point during the initial construction, the laid – Torquil MacLeod – brokered a deal with the Devil. Help would be offered in exchange for MacLeod’s soul.
Ever the shrewd chief, Torquil accepted these terms and entered into this pact. He was, by all accounts, not a man to pass up on free labour and firmly believed that he was immortal. According to this legend, when the Devil first noticed Torquil’s daughter, he was instantly smitten and requested her hand in marriage as a compromise.
These negotiations and arrangements were all held in secret and behind closed doors. It was only on the scheduled wedding day did she find out who her betrothed was.
While some accounts firmly believe that Eimhir (the Weeping Woman’s rumoured identity) drowned in the loch, whether deliberately or accidently, there are other accounts that contradict this. Instead, she survived her time in the loch and adapted to life in it. Seeking refuge in the one of the caves beneath the surface, she thrived and became transformed into the famed Mermaid of Assymt.
The Mermaid of Assymt
Wherever or not the Weeping Woman and the Mermaid of Assymt are one and the same, local legend also insists that the calmness of the Loch is depedant of the Mermaid. When the water levels rise, it is often cited as the tears of the Mermaid that cause the increase. Perhaps it is this that lead those that believe in the connection to link the two legends into one.
There is a third legend to be considered. That of the Selkie. Scores of tales or Merfolk that can shape shift into humans and wed a local can be found all over ancient Scotland. From the Shetlands to Orkney and beyond. The union of a Selkie to a local is quite often done by nefarious means on the part of the local.
There is said to be one evening annually that the Selkie would come ashore. This is the Eve of the Three Kings and the Selkies would celebrate on dry land after shedding their skins.
One legend from Scotland revolves around one youth who learned of this ritual and lay in wait. Among the throng of Selkies that exited the water, he was instantly taken by one of them. He identified which skin was hers and retrieved it. After their festivities, the lone Selkie was unable to return to the water. The Selkie was bound to the young man until the skin was returned. It took quite a few years.
The Weeping Woman can most often be sighted walking along the beach that is close to the castle. The climate there is prone to getting misty and when those conditions are met, those caught up in it have commented on feeling a presence with them, unnerving sobs or a plain overwhelming feeling of sorrow.
The Weeping Woman is not the only long-time resident that has often been seen. Another is a man clad all in grey that is most often believed to be the Marquis of Montrose, who was executed. If this was not the Marquis, then an alternative is someone that was complicit in the betrayal that led to his execution.
Have you been to Ardvreck Castle? Tell us about it in the comments section below!