SCOTLAND is filled with enough folktales and campfire stories to make anyone squirm, especially around All Hallows’ Eve, but there are some haunting tales that seem a bit too believable to sweep under the rug.

Many people have claimed to have spotted ghosts lurking within the walls of old castles, tenement buildings and estates around the country. Some visitors have even touted Scotland as one of the most haunted places in the world. Let’s have look at a handful of places that have given it that infamous spooky title.

Hermitage Castle

Hermitage Castle is located near Hawick. It is believed to have been built around 1360 and has developed a gruesome history, fit for such a foreboding structure. Although built on a picturesque riverside, the castle is surrounded by relatively open space, leaving it oddly vulnerable to attacks. Its harsh lines and unabashed nature has led to it being recognised as one of the strangest structures in the country.

Many of its occupants’ lives ended mysteriously, resulting in visitors claiming to see ghostly apparitions, most notably of Mary Queen of Scots, who supposedly haunts the castle in search of her lost lover.

The National: Hermitage CastleHermitage Castle

Nothing, however, is quite as disturbing as the tales of Sir William de Soulis. He occupied Hermitage between 1274-1329, and brought a lot of darkness with him into the castle. Allegedly, De Soulis often performed satanic rituals with the blood of local children he had kidnapped. During these rituals, it is said that he summoned Robin Redcap, a henchman of Satan, and supposedly the blood collected from the children was to quench Robin’s thirst. In exchange, de Soulis received wealth and power.

Eventually, people living in the surrounding villages grew suspicious, and soon uncovered who had taken their children.

They stormed the castle to find the corpses and then petitioned the king for justice. The king wanted no input into what was to be done with de Soulis and supposedly told the villagers to “boil him if you must”. And that’s what they did. Abandoned by Satan’s henchmen, de Soulis was left in a cell until the villagers drowned him in a boiling vat of molten lead.

It is said his ghost still roams the castle, calling out for children to sacrifice for Robin Redcap.

Hill House

Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Hill House stands in Helensburgh. Known as the architect’s domestic masterpiece, the house became an iconic structure in the Scottish landscape. Although it might be assumed that the architect is the one to stalk the halls, it is actually the man who commissioned the house’s creation.

The house was built in the early 1900s for Glaswegian publisher, Walter Blackie. After establishing Blackie & Son in 1890, he and his wife commissioned the house to live in for the last 50 years of their life, until Blackie’s death in 1953.

In 1982, Hill House opened to the public as a heritage site, and became available to be rented out for parties and overnight stays. Since then, visitors have noted seeing Blackie’s ghost. It is said to wear a long black cloak and smoke a pipe, the smell of which signals his presence.

Although there doesn’t seem to be a sinister motive behind Blackie’s presence, the house itself is going through its own period of horrors. After years of exposure to the elements, the sandstone structure is crumbling.

A conservation effort has begun and for protection it has been entombed in a giant box. Now, Hill House has become haunting in a completely unexpected way, a ghost of Mackintosh’s creation, waiting to be brought back from the dead.

Meldrum House

Meldrum House in Aberdeenshire is now a hotel and golf retreat but was once home to some of the most powerful families in Scotland. The estate was passed from the Urquharts to the Seton family to the Duffs, who first opened the house as a hotel in the 1950s.

The house has been through owners, expansions and redesigns over the years and is now a beautiful hotel that retains its historical charm. However, there is a spectre who roams the estate.

She is known as the White Lady and is thought to be the ghost of Isabella Douglas, the wife of William Urquhart, the fourth Urquhart of Meldrum, the original family who lived in Meldrum House.

The National: Meldrum HouseMeldrum House

Isabella died in 1775 when she supposedly fell from a window but many believe that she was pushed. Her portrait hangs above the fireplace in the reception today, and her presence lingers everywhere throughout the property.

Often appearing in the midst of thunderstorms, her ghost has planted cold kisses on men’s cheeks, and has been known to scratch the chests of sleeping residents until they wake.

When happy, Isabella strolls around the halls but when agitated she rushes around the premises, casting cold chills down guests’ spines. Although these may be tall tales told to add more intrigue to Meldrum House, it would be good to keep an eye out for Isabella Douglas.

Castle Fraser

Castle Fraser is one of the largest tower houses in Scotland. Located just outside of Inverurie. The castle dates back to the 1450s and acted as a home to the Fraser family for almost half a century. Over the past 100 years, extensive renovations took place throughout the castle before it was opened to the public in 1976.

Throughout that time, people visiting and working around the castle have claimed to have seen ghosts moving around the castle, in particular, the infamous ghost of a princess killed in the Green Room.

The National: Castle FraserCastle Fraser

The story details how a princess was killed as she slept. Her body was dragged down a staircase, leaving a bloody trail. No matter how hard they tried, the owners of the castle were unable to scrub away the blood, so the stairs had to be covered with wooden panelling, which is still there today.

Since the princess’s death, many have reported seeing a young woman wandering the halls to the sound of a piano playing from an empty room.

Others say they have heard children’s laughter around the corridors, or seen the cloaked ghost of Lady Marie Augusta Gabrielle Berengere Blanche Drummond, who, after dying from tuberculosis in 1874, is said to lurk around the grounds of the castle.

The grandeur of the structure holds much more than the history of the Fraser family and the ghosts are not in a hurry to let visitors forget their presence.

Craigievar Castle

Supposedly the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Cinderella castle, Craigievar Castle is one of the most beloved heritage sites in Scotland. The castle was completed by William Forbes in 1626 and it was a family home for generations of Forbes up until the 1960s.

It has been the scene of fateful incidents, one such event happening in the tower room. After being led up the stairs, a Gordon Clan member was forced out of the window to his death by a member of the Forbes family.

The National: Craigievar CastleCraigievar Castle

Visitors say they have heard the Gordon Clan member’s footsteps ascend the tower, as though re-enacting his final moments.

Another ghost said to walk the walls is that of a fiddler. He died after falling into a well on the castle grounds and since then he has been heard playing throughout the castle.

Although many are said to have heard the fiddle, it is believed that only descendants of the Forbes family are actually able to see the spectre. Despite its fairy tale pink, there were definitely some unhappy endings inside the walls of Craigievar Castle.

Though many of these hauntings have not, and cannot, be proven, they do add a wonderful sense of whimsy and mystery to these Scottish heritage sites.

Throughout the country, these ghost sightings are not limited to castles and stately homes either.There are many stories of ghosts set in Glencoe, the Highlands, and even on Scottish shores. There is a story of a ghost almost everywhere. So maybe we should all keep an eye out this Halloween, when the dead are known to cross over into the realm of the living.