Ancient forts and castles are steeped in history, each with its own tale of bloody battles, betrayal, murder, execution and torture. So it's no wonder that so many castle across the United Kingdom are said to be haunted. Below are the 20 castle across the country with the most famous reputations for their resident ghosts and spirits.
20. Chepstow Castle, Chepstow
Chepstow Castle in Monmouthshire is the oldest surviving post-Roman stone fortification in Britain and also boasts the oldest surviving wooden castle door in Europe, dating back to the 12th century. Today the castle is in ruins, however most of it is still intact and the remains are open to the public as a Grade I listed Welsh attraction. Visitors and staff working at the castle have reported plenty of paranormal activity, including unexplained cold spots, strange noises and even ghostly visions.
In the castle's gift shop visitors have reported smelling the unmistakable scent of onions being cooked. The gift shop is built right next to the site of the castle's former kitchens. Staff locking up alone have heard heavy knocking on the castle's large wooden doors.
There's also been sightings of the ghost of Henry Marten, an English lawyer who was sent in to exile at Chepstow Castle by King Charles II in 1668. He remained here for 12 years until he died at the castle after choking while eating his supper. He is buried beneath the floor at the nearby Church of St Mary.
There's also an odd tale of an ornate chess set that was for sale in the gift shop. The staff noticed that despite being locked in a glass display cabinet, on several occasions the chess pieces moved to different squares of their own accord.
19. Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven
Situated near Stonehaven, this 14th century coastal castle is said to be home to several frequently sighted ghosts. The most common of which is the spirit of a young girl wearing a plaid dress spotted in the brewery. The guardroom is said to be haunted by a Nordic-looking man, who paces around the room.
18. Dudley Castle, Dudley
The ruins of the castle stand in the town of Dudley, fortification on this site dates back to 1071 following the Norman invasion in 1066. The castle is said to be home to many spirits including the Grey Lady who is believed to be the ghost of Dorothy Beaumont, who once lived in the castle and died there following complications after giving birth to her daughter. Her ghost is most often reported at the castle's keep in the form of unexplained sounds, and icy blasts of air which are often accompanied by a strange blue mist.
However, the most haunted part of the castle is the chapel undercroft, where you'll find a stone coffin which is said to have once help the body of one of the castle's most infamous residents, John Somery. His ghost has been spotted as disembodied legs beside the coffin. Others have reported feeling him tug at their clothing as they walk through this part of the castle.
Like Dover Castle, Dudley also has the ghost of a drummer boy who was said to have been killed by a stray bullet during the Civil War. He's mostly heard at night beating out drum rolls as if in battle. People have also reported seeing dark shadowy figures, hearing strange sounds throughout the castle, and even witnessed a chair flipping over during a paranormal investigation.
17. Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh
The Scottish capital is said to be one of the most haunted cities in the world, and the castle which overlooks it also has its fair share of spooks, many tourists have reported plenty of paranormal activity over the years.
There are several ghosts who are said to haunt this historic fortress, the most commonly sighted are an old man in apron, a piper who mysteriously lost his life after getting lost in the tunnels below the castle and a headless drummer boy.
16. Inveraray Castle, Inveraray
Situated on the shore of Loch Fyne, the castle looks like something out of a fairytale but hides a grim past and a whole host of ghostly residents. The most notable is the ghost of an Irish harpist who was murdered by the Duke of Montrose's men in the 17th century. His ghost is most frequently reported by guests in the MacArthur room.
The castle also has a ghost known as the Grey Lady, who was witnessed by former residents of the castle, the Duke of Argyll's daughters. There's also a spirit, known as the Galley of Lorne, which is said to be seen drifting away from the castle when a duke dies.
15. Crathes Castle, Banchory
Crathes Castle was built in the 16th century and was home to the Burnett family. The castle's most famous ghost is the Green Lady, who is seen wearing a green robe and cradling a baby in her arms. She's been spotted near a fireplace in a room which is now known as the Green Lady's room. Eerily, during building works in the 1800s skeletal remains of a child were found behind the same fireplace.
The castle's tower is said to be haunted by the White Lady, she is said to be Bertha, a lover of Alexander Burnett. It's thought that she was poisoned by Alexander's mother for being unworthy of her son's hand-in-marriage. Visitors have also reported ghostly figures seen walking around the castle and its grounds, which coincide with sudden and extreme drops in temperature.
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14. Castell Coch, Cardiff
The 19th-century gothic revival castle was built above the village of Tongwynlais, surrounded by protected beech woodland containing rare plant species and unusual geological features and even today. It does look like something out of a fairytale, although 30 years on, I'm not sure if the claim of 13 ghosts was an exaggeration or a forgotten local myth but either way the castle is clearly home to many ghosts.
Castell Coch was designed by the architect William Burgess as a country retreat for the Third Marquis of Bute, John Patrick Crichton-Stuart and his family but none of these haunt the building, in fact after the the Marquis died, his widow, Lady Gwendolyn was quick to leave the castle after complaining about a ghostly woman in white. She is said to be a servant who lived in the castle and has been haunting the building since the death of her son. He drowned in the castle grounds in a pond.
Another regularly sighted ghost at the castle is the spirit of a man dressed in cavalier uniform. It's believed that the man had been lucky enough to lay his hand on a large amount of treasure, which he buried somewhere in the grounds of Castle Coch.
It's said that even to this day he comes back to the castle from beyond the grave to check that his hidden riches are safe. The treasure is also watched over by three ghostly eagles.
13. Taunton Castle, Taunton
Taunton Castle was built in the 12th century and stands on the site of fortification that have been protecting the county town for much longer. The castle has housed Taunton's museum for over 100 years and visitors have reported plenty of paranormal activity due to the building's bloody past.
In 1685, following the Monmouth Rebellion, the infamous Judge Jeffreys held the Taunton Assize in the castle's great hall. He found over 140 of the Duke of Monmouth's supported guilty of high treason and had them hung, drawn and quartered at the castle.
The great hall is the part of the castle that now houses Taunton museum and visitors have reported hearing the disembodied sound of soldiers' boots stomping across the floor. There's also been reports of a Civil War cavalier on the stairs and sightings of the ghost of Judge Jeffreys himself.
There's also reports of the ghost of a grey lady seen wandering the corridors 17th century style clothing and so many member of staff have witnessed poltergeist activity in the Somerset Room that many now refuse to enter.
Guests at the adjoining Castle Hotel have reported hearing the sound of ghostly violin music drifting in through their windows at night and no one knows where the sound is coming from.
12. Bodelwyddan Castle, Bodelwyddan
Bodelwyddan Castle dates back to at least 1460 and has had a varied and interesting past. It was used as a hospital during the First World War, as a private girls' school and is now home to the National Portrait Gallery.
The paranormal activity ranges from the sound of phantom children heard playing in empty rooms. Visitors have reported the sensation of have their hair or clothes pulled as if by a mischievous child.
There's also reports of visitors seeing disembodied legs wearing a pair of black shoes walking through the entrance hall before vanishing.
The castle's most well known spook is the spirit of a blue lady who's been seen wearing a flowing blue dress wandering around the castle's sculpture gallery. Another female spirit is said to haunt this part of the castle, a woman seen wearing Victorian style clothing. Unusually she's said to appear as a two-dimensional image in a sepia tone. The ghost of a First World Was soldier has been seen in another of the castle's galleries.
The cellar is also said to be haunted by a spook nicknames The Cellar Man. He's said to lurk in the castle's huge basement and is said to be very physical and violent having been blamed for pinching and pulling the hair of those who are brave enough to venture into the cellar.
11. Balgonie Castle, Glenrothes
An hour from Edinburugh, in Glenrothes, Fife, is the 700 year old former stronghold. It's survived attacks, experienced brutal murders and is now a family home, but an intimidating spirit is said to endanger its inhabitants.
The castle's owners Stuart and Kelly Morris have experienced ghostly activity including disembodied voices, the apparition of a young boy in the courtyard, people feel like they're being watched, dark shadow figures are seen and eerily, a head has also been spotted floating throughout the castle.
Kelly has one experience that felt like someone was touching and breathing on her. She felt this was an evil presence, it got so bad that Kelly has even considered moving out. It's thought that the evil presence is the malevolent spirit of a priest.
There's also the ghost of grey lady known as Green Jeanie, the owners have seen her walk past one window and look out of another. Her apparition has been reported as long back as 1842 and she's been seen throughout the castle, in the courtyard and in the land surrounding the castle. She's believed to be the daughter of the second family who owned the castle, the Lundys.
10. Dover Castle, Dover
Records show that a settlement has existed on the site of Dover Castle since Saxon times, it has a history of involvement in pirates, Napoleonic battles, and even housed a secret underground command centre in the Second World War.
The battlements are said to be haunted by a the ghost of a headless drummer boy who's believed to have been decapitated when he was attacked for the riches he was carrying while on an errand for his master. The castle is also said to be the home of a woman in red who has been spotted around the castle, as well as a cavalier.
The castle has a haunted underground area too. Below ground in the WWII tunnels, the ghost of many soldiers have been seen and their presence felt. Visitors have reported hearing disembodied voices, loud screams, and doors slamming, as well as experiencing sudden drops in temperature.
9. Culzean Castle, Maybole
This South Ayrshire castle was built in the 18th century, but a fortification has stood on the land since 1165. With such longstanding history, it's no surprise that Culzean Castle has topped out list of the most haunted castles in Scotland, especially as it is said to be home to no less than seven individual ghosts.
There is a network of tunnels which run underneath the castle that were once used by smugglers, in more recent years the ghostly sound of pipe music has been heard coming from within the tunnels. There's also been reports of the sound of guests partying loudly in various parts of the castle, but when staff investigate they find the room empty.
The castle is also said to be haunted by the spirit of a woman, believed to be a former servant, seen in the upper rooms, and the apparition of an old man seen wearing period clothing sitting in the Earl's bedroom.
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8. Birkwood Castle, Lesmahagow
Birkwood Castle is 17th Century Neo-Gothic castle near Lesmahagow in South Lanarkshire. The castle was built in 1860 for McKirdy family but was handed over to the local council in 1923 when it became a psychiatric hospital for children. It continued to be used until 2005 when it was abandoned and fell into disrepair.
Birkwood Castle is said to be haunted by the ghosts of its former patients. When the hospital was operational, visitors and staff reported plenty of paranormal activity including the sound of disembodied footsteps and electrical disturbances.
Ever since, reports of ghostly goings on have come in thick and fast, including reports of a cigar-smoking spirit whose smoke can be smelt around the castle. There's also said to be a ghost of a young boy called Michael who has been seen on a spiral staircase in the building where he is believed to have fallen to his death.
People have also reported hearing the eerie sound of a woman crying and singing from empty rooms throughout the building. The ghost of a man who was murder by being stabbed through the throat has also been spotted in the castle.
A few years later in 2015, one of the castle's exterior walls collapsed. Many blame the amount of ghostly activity at the building for the collapse, which was so loud that people in the local area reported hearing an explosion.
7. Glamis Castle, Glamis
Glamis Castle is situated in the village of Glamis, Angus and is the home of the Earl and Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne, the Bowes-Lyons family. The category A listed building is said to be haunted by many ghosts, including the ghost of the woman with no tongue who's been seen walking around the grounds.
There's also said to be a Grey Lady, thought to be the ghost of a former resident who was burned at the stake for being a witch in 1537. The spirit of a young boy has also been spotted sitting on the stone seat by the door of the Queen's room, he's believed to be a former servant at the castle.
The 4th Earl of Crawford, Alexander Lindsay, is also said to haunt the castle. He was said to be cruel man in life, but since passing has been sighted as a dark figure standing over beds in the dead of night.
6. Pengersick Castle, Penzance
This fortified Manor House located between the villages of Germoe and Praa Sands is sand to be one of the most haunted buildings in Cornwall. It's been occupied by the Pengersick family since the 12th century and boasts quite a haunted past with over 20 resident spooks.
Sightings include the ghost of a monk who has been seen wandering around the medieval gardens, guests have reported seeing a woman standing at one of the windows staring out at night. There's also the ghost of a young girl who haunts the basement, strange light anomalies have been caught on camera, electrical equipment inexplicably fails, and there's even said to be the ghost of a cat and a dog.
5. Windsor Castle, Windsor
Windsor Castle dates back to the reign of William the Conqueror and is said to be home to many ghost, as well as plenty of monarchs throughout British history. The castle's library is said to be one of the most haunted in the UK
The notable ghosts that haunt the castle include that of King Charles I who haunts part of the castle. Elizabeth I haunts the royal library and has been spotted by many members of the royal family. The groans and dragging footsteps of King Henry VIII have also been heard around the castle, the face of King George III has also been seen peering out of the window in the room where he was often detained.
An area of the castle known as the Deanery is said to be haunted by the spirit of a young boy. The Norman tower is said to be haunted by a former Royalist prisoner. In the kitchen the ghost of a man with a horse has been seen who walk straight through a solid wall.
The long walk is also supposed to be haunted by the spirit of grenadier guard who killed himself here in the 1920s, he's been spotted at least twice since his death.
4. Cardiff Castle, Cardiff
A medieval castle located right in the heart of Cardiff city centre. There's been a castle of some form on the site going right back to the 11th century. The castle is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city.
Like most castles, Cardiff Castle has its share of resident ghosts, most of which can be found in an area known as "the palace" in the south-west corner of the castle grounds. Visitors to this part of the castle have reported seeing a strange mist, which takes the form of a faceless woman in a grey dress. The ghost is said to move things around in the early hours of the morning in the stock room. The ghost has also been blamed from opening and closing doors, causing lights to flicker and rearranging furniture.
The Second Marquess of Bute, John Crichton-Stuart and six generations of his family lived at the castle. The Marquess died in the castle and is said to have been seen walking through walls and fireplaces as well as in the chapel where he died. His wife, Lady Sophia Rawdon-Hastings has also been spotted floating through the castle grounds at night.
3. Codnor Castle Ruins & Cottage, Codnor
Codnor Castle near Derby is a medieval castle which sits right on the border between Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. The castle is now in ruins after it was nearly completely dismantled in 1643 and is surrounded by countryside that has been parkland for a hundreds of years.
The castle grounds are said to be haunted. The most famous story is that of a soldier of the Knight's Templar who was injured in battle and took refuge in the castle over night. The soldier died during the night, and ever since, his rather aggressive ghost has been seen wearing a dull metal helmet in the castle grounds outside the cottage. He's also seen running through the ruin of the great hall.
The grounds are also said to be haunted by a spirit known as the Grey Lady, the name could be linked to the De Grey family who occupied the castle for centuries. It's said she was a heavily pregnant French woman, and died following an accident while out riding her horse. She has since been seen gliding around the estate and the echoes of a French woman singing have been heard.
A 17th century, farmhouse known as Codnor Castle Cottage was built on the grounds of the Codnor Castle estate, it has its own history of murder, suicide and witchcraft. In the foreboding attic space there are several unusual markings, which are believed to have been created to ward off evil spirits.
The paranormal occurrences at cottage range from dark shadows, to poltergeist activity like doors slamming, furniture being moved across rooms, and glasses thrown. There have been countless reports of disembodied voices including singing, laughter, the voices of children, and blood-curdling screams.
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2. The Castle Keep & Black Gate, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
The castle keep is the oldest part of the castle from which the city gets its name. It dates back to the 12th century and was once part of a larger medieval fortification. It is the oldest building in Newcastle, one of the best surviving examples of a Norman Keep and also the most haunted location in the city by far.
The keep's most famous ghost is known as the "Poppy Girl". She's said to have been a flower girl who was imprisoned in the castle and eventually died in incarceration. Her ghost has been sighted around the building and coincides with the smell of fresh flowers.
The Black Gate was added to the castle by Henry III between 1247 and 1250, serving as an additional barbican in front of the earlier north gate of the castle, this part of the castle is also said to be haunted. Its two most famous ghosts are that of a woman seen standing on a balcony watching visitors pass by below, and an apparition seen holding a baby.
Other paranormal activity in the old castle buildings includes the sounds of ghostly chanting coming from The Queen's Chamber in the keep, where a female apparition has been seen, and unexplained screams from the gallery, as well as disembodied voices and footsteps. Visitors to the castle have reported seeing black mists, feeling like they've been pushed or touched by unseen hands and even reported being scratched. Unexplained cold spots have been recorded around the building and dark shapes, light anomalies and strange mists have been captured in photos taken in the keep.
1. Chillingham Castle, Alnwick
The medieval castle in the village of Chillingham, was the seat of the Grey and Bennet families from the 15th century until the 1980s when it became the home of Sir Humphry Wakefield Bt. Sir Humphry has spent the last few decades restoring the Grade I listed castle, it is now a hotel.
The castle's haunted reputation is well known and it has played host to the 'Most Haunted' team as well as other paranormal television shows. The most prevalent at the castle include the ghost of a Spanish witch who is said to have put a curse on the castle which is said to bring bad luck on anyone who steals from the castle.
There's also the ghost of Lady Mary Berkeley, she was a former resident of the castle whose husband had an affair with her sister, she died of heartbreak in the Grey Apartment. There's now a painting of her in the room which guests have claimed to see her come out of, other visitors to the castle say they have heard her grey dress rustling in the dead of night.
You might also want to look out for the ghost of a little girl who has been caught on camera in the castle's great hall. And the ghost of John Sage, a soldier who served under King Edward, but after taking a spear to his leg in battle with the Scots, was forced to retreat from the frontline and took up the role of the castle's torture in its fully equipped dungeon.
The castle's most famous ghost is the Blue Boy, it's said that guests see blue flashes of light above their beds or coming from within the castles walls. It turns out that these flashes are the ghost of a boy who was bricked up alive inside one of the walls.
During renovations at the castle the skeleton of a boy with blue clothes was found inside a three meter thick wall, the bones on his fingers were worn away from his attempts at scratching at the wall in a desperate bid for freedom.