Floors squeaking, doors opening, strange noises. Is someone there? No reply. It’s probably just the wind. But wait, what’s that? Looks like a shadow… Is it getting closer?
Have you ever visited a castle or an old mansion that happened to send shivers down your spine? Perhaps it’s their Gothic allure, taking us back to the times of knights and ladies, medieval dramas, and a glory that has long dawned. Maybe it’s the tragic stories of their former residents, or that unmistakable stale odor, and the many portraits hanging from the walls, peering into the halls. Some castles are renowned for more than just their tumultuous history and notable residents. The ghosts haunting their chambers, whether they be real or not, have become the starts of their game.
Where do these ghost stories come from? Well, it’s obvious something did happen within their walls that scared residents and visitors, who tried to find an explanation. Let’s face it, as much as we like castles, they are scary to begin with. The secret passageways, the dungeons, or simply the fact that they are incredibly old, cold, dark, and that so many people wandered down their halls before us, leaving a little piece of their spirit behind forever, are enough to creep us out. Yet, we have to wonder whether there is something crawling in there. What is sure is that these castles are the place to go if you want to run across some good old ghosts.
10. Warwick Castle in England
Built in the 11th century by William the Conqueror, Warwick saw more battles than any other castle in Europe. That much violence was bound to haunt its halls forever. The most haunted area is said to be the ghost tower, home to the ghost of Sir Fulke Greville, who was murdered by his manservant in 1628. He is said to materialize from his portrait hanging on the wall in the tower late at night. The dungeon is another haunted place inside the castle, as many visitors accuse nausea and vertigo when touching the rusty bars and torture apparatuses.
9. Predjama Castle in Slovenia
Built into the mouth of a cave in 1274, Predjama Castle is a powerful fortress that withstood numerous fierce battles. Used both for defensive and offensive purposes, the castle was destroyed by a series of prolonged sieges and an earthquake around the 14th and 15th centuries. It was rebuilt in 1567, together with numerous secret tunnels and passageways, which are said to be haunted by the ghosts of the many soldiers who died within the castle walls. Footsteps and noises can still be heard from the dungeons and tunnels underneath.
8. Dragsholm Castle in Denmark
Built in the late 12th century, Drangsholm Castle now operates as a luxury hotel. What makes it famous are the 100 ghosts roaming its corridors each night. Don’t ask me how they counted them! Three of them are particularly renowned: the Gray Lady, the Lady in White, and Count Bothwell. The saddest story is that of the Lady in White, who fell in love with a peasant. Her father found out about the romance, and locked her up in her room, never to be seen again. In the 1930’s, workers restoring a wing of the castle found the skeleton of a young woman inside a wall, wearing a white dress.
As for Lord Bothwell, he was imprisoned in the castle for five years in the 16th century, until he died within its walls. The Gray Lady worked as a maiden at the hotel. When she died, she couldn’t bear to leave the castle, so she returns every now and then to check on things.
7. Leap Castle in Ireland
Deemed Ireland’s most haunted castle, Leap Castle sits on a site that has been occupied ever since at least the Iron Age. The chapel in particular has an interesting story to tell, that of a soldier who took out his sword here and killed his brother, a priest, in 1532. The priest’s ghost still haunts what is now known as the Bloody Chapel.
Another famous presence is the Elemental, a creature about the same size as a sheep, with a human face and black sockets instead of eyes, smelling like rotting skin. The dungeon has a few gruesome stories of its own. Called oubliette, the dungeon had a high ceiling with a hatch through which prisoners were thrown in, onto the numerous spikes on the bottom.
6. Houska Castle in the Czech Republic
In the forests north of Prague there’s a castle that appears to have served no obvious normal function. It is a fortification, but it did not withstand any attacks. It was built to lock something inside. Legend has it that there was once a bottomless pit, from where half-man, half-monster winged creatures came out of. So in the 13th century the Bohemian rulers decided to close the gateway to hell by building a castle on top. However, before that, they lowered soldiers down into the pit with a rope. The first soldier let out a yell and when pulled out, he appeared to have aged 30 years and died a few days later.
In the 1930’s, Houska Castle caught the attention of none other than Adolf Hitler. The Nazis used it to perform a series of occult experiments, and several bodies of Nazi soldiers have been found on these grounds, appearing to have been executed. Skeletons of unearthly beasts have allegedly been found in the castle. There are also the ghosts of a headless black horse and of a woman who is often seen looking out the window.
5. Moosham Castle in Austria
A wonderful example of Austrian architecture and ghost stories. Built in the 12th century, Moonsham is also known as Witches Castle, all due to its sinister past. It is the site of the bloodiest witch trial in history. Between 1675 and 1687, thousands of women were trialed for witchcraft and were sentenced to death. They were tortured and executed by decapitation within the castle walls. Most of them continue to haunt its halls.
Besides serving as a playground to these beheaded witches, Moosham Castle is also believed to be a werewolf’s den. The story can be traced back to the early 19th century, when a series of mutilated cattle and deer corpses were found near the castle. In consequence, some Moosham residents were tried and imprisoned as werewolves.
4. Brissac Castle in France
Chateau de Briccas is the tallest castle in France, seven stories high, set in the heart of the picturesque Loire Valley and is also one of the most haunted castles in the world. In the 11th century, Jacque de Breze was the owner of the estate. His wife, Charlotte, started an affair with a young man, and used the bedroom next to her husband’s. Her husband could hear their moans of passion night after night, until the two lovers mysteriously disappeared. Jacque de Breze might have had something to do with it. However, he did not manage to completely get rid of the two. At night, he could still hear their moans, until he finally went mad and fled the castle. The sounds of their passion can still be heard today, from late at night till early in the morning.
3. Edinburgh Castle in Scotland
Built in the 12th century, Edinburgh Castle is one of those places where non believers, as soon as they go past its threshold, become believers. Built on a volcanic rock on the plug of an extinct volcano, it stands as a symbol of Scottish castles. According to investigators, the place is a paranormal hot spot, as shadowy figures reveal themselves to visitors, and many tourists accuse burning sensations.
Lady Glamis can be seen wandering around the dark halls. She was accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake in 1537. Ever since 1650, the ghost of a headless drummer boy has been haunting the castle. There’s also a piper, an old man in a leather apron, and even the ghost of a dog prancing around the graveyard. The French prisoners during the Seven Years’ War can still be heard from the tunnels under the castle.
2. Chillingham Castle in England
A chilly name for an equally gloomy place. Dubbed the most haunted castle in England, Chillingham Castle in Northumberland served one purpose alone, and that was to kill. John Sage worked as a torturer for three years in these dungeons, and he is said to have tortured approximately 50 Scotts per week. At nights, John Sage can still be heard dragging bodies around.
Another famous apparition is the Blue Boy, also called the Radiant Boy, who haunts the Pink Room. Those are some vibrant colors for a ghost story! Guests have reported hearing a long, loud wailing, after which they saw blue flashes of light above their bed. The haunting seemed to decrease after an extended renovation revealed the bodies of a man and a boy bricked inside the 10-foot wall.
1. Berry Pomeroy Castle in England
Those who wander near the ruins of the Berry Pomeroy Castle might come across the Blue Lady, luring them into the tower, where they will meet their death. She is the ghost of the daughter of a Norman lord, raped by her own father. The incest produced a child, who was strangled by the father. Other stories say it was the girl herself that killed the child. Her tormented ghost still roams these grounds, and she is thought to be an omen of death.
The Blue Lady is not the only ghost haunting the Berry Pomeroy Castle. The White Lady is believed to be the ghost of Margaret Pomeroy, who was locked away by her jealous sister Eleanor, and left there to starve to death. The two sisters were both in love with the same man.
In the 19th century, Berry Pomeroy was considered a romantic ruin. Many artists and lovers often visited the place, and it seems one of them managed to take a photo of the White Lady standing beside the ivy-covered walls.