Saturday, November 28, 2009

Medieval Castles in 2009

During the course of this year we have visited and photographed a number of medieval castles in the Border region that lies between England and Scotland. It is an area that has seen many battles for power over the centuries and is therefore littered with fortresses many of which date back to medieval times and some such as Carlisle Castle having origins even further back - to Roman times.

Carlisle Castle (Cumbria England)
With over 900 years of history. Architecturally fascinating and reputed to be haunted!

Naworth Castle (Cumbria England)
A small, privately owned medieval castle dating back to the early 14th century.

Dacre Castle (Cumbria England)
An even smaller castle, again privately owned which was up for rental at the time we visited.

Dunstanburgh Castle (Northumberland, England)
Castle ruins in one of the most outstanding locations you could ever dream of! Located high on a promintery overlooking the sea. Breathtaking views once you reach it and look down on the surrounding countryside. Legends abound about this castle and it is reputed to be haunted.

Threave Castle (Scotland)
Ruins of a 13th century castle built in a unique location - on an island in the middle of the river Dee.

Hermitage Castle (Scotland)
Another unique location for a medieval castle - this was far from romantic though. A much more desolate location. Castle reputed to be haunted.

Photographs of each of the above will be published in subsequent blog posts.

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Hermitage Castle Scotland

Whilst our Halloween post pointed readers in the direction of a variety of haunted medieval castles all over Britain, it focused in particular on Hermitage Castle.

After writing that post I was reminded of just how strong an atmosphere there was to the place - I can still close my eyes and feel the 'coldness' that seemed prevalent there! I then started to sift through the photographs we took on our visit to Hermitage Castle earlier in 2009 and it became even clearer just how powerful and commanding a presence the place has.

It seems therefore only fair to the many readers of our medieval-castle.com website and our medieval castle blog, that we should share some of those photographs with you all. After all, many of you are not in a position to travel to Scotland and see first hand what I have described. So over the coming weeks watch out for some great photos!

Today's ...... the view that greets you as you walk towards Hermitage Castle.

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Spooky Stories From Medieval Castles On Halloween!

If you've been reading our Medieval Castle Blog during the month of October you will know that we have been recounting 'white lady' ghost stories at some of Britain's medieval castles. Well, for those of you who haven't had enough and want yet more spooky stories for your Halloween bedtime reading, let us point you in the right direction ....

Haunted Castles In England
Haunted Castles In Scotland
Haunted Castles In Ireland
Haunted Castles In Wales

On a personal note, one of the most 'spooky' castles I have ever visited has to be Hermitage Castle in Scotland. It is difficult to explain but the moment you set eyes on the castle it really grips you and holds your attention. It has a powerful, eery appearance and when you see it close up and then enter inside the ruins the atmosphere is very intense. Hermitage Castle is set close to a river, in open countryside and with views to distant fields and hills all around. It has to be one of the most distinctive of medieval castles I have ever seen - though not one that I would relish revisiting. There was a coldness to it that even now is clear in the memory as I write this post. See our dedicated page on Hermitage Castle and read about 2 of its ghost stories.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Haunted Castles - The White Lady Of Denbigh Castle

Here is our third "White Lady' ghost story.

Denbigh Castle in Wales was built in the late 13th/early 14th century by Henry de Lacy, 3rd Earl of Lincoln in England to whom King Edward I had granted the territory after the last native Welsh prince had been defeated in 1282 AD. Having 700 years of history, the castle has doubtless seen its fair share of strange events! The ghost story of "The White Lady" at Denbigh Castle is one that many people swear to have witnessed in person with many reported sightings of a 'White Lady' around the castle, usually gliding around the footpaths near the Goblin Tower and surrounded by a glowing white mist. In recent years (1999 AD) 3 youths hit the local headlines when they reported being terrified at the sight of the 'White Lady' standing beneath the Goblin Tower of the castle from where they said she "glided" down the hill toward them.

There is a great video clip from a BBC TV programme where paranormal investigator Mike McManus recounts a vigil at the haunted ruins of Denbigh Castle. Spooky stuff!

For more detail on this fascinating Welsh castle go to our dedicated Denbigh Castle page.

Read more about haunted castles in Wales on medieval-castle.com

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Haunted Castles - The White Lady Of Glamis Castle

Here is our second 'White Lady' ghost story.

Glamis Castle in Scotland is reputed to be haunted by more than one lady in fact but we will just look at "The White Lady" in this post. There has been much discussion about who she might have been in real life but the general concensus seems to point to the possibility of it being the ghost of Janet Douglas, wife to the 6th Lord Glamis back in the 16th century. After his death she became wife to Archibald Campbell then later imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle and finally burnt at the stake on Castle Hill on a charge of witchcraft. For more detail on this and other hauntings at the castle go to our dedicated Glamis Castle page.

Read more about haunted castles in Scotland on medieval-castle.com

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Medieval Castle Ghosts - The White Lady Of Tamworth Castle

One of the most common 'apparitions' in ghost stories is that of the 'white lady'. There are many legends that tell of some tragic story and the end result is that of a haunting by a white lady.

In the next few posts we will share some of the white lady stories that we have come across in our research on medieval history and medieval castles.

Here is the first ....


  • Tamworth Castle in England - There have been many reports of "ghostly happenings" in Tamworth Castle but one of the most famous is that of the White Lady. According to local folklore, a young woman was captured and locked in the castle tower by Sir Tarquin. Over time she fell in love with him and after he was killed by Sir Lancelot du Lac she mourned her lover so much that she threw herself from the battlements. It is believed her ghost walks the castle battlements weeping and people have reported not only seeing the apparition but also hearing her mournful cries.

Read more about haunted castles on medieval-castle.com

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Haunted Castle For TV's "Most Haunted"

It's October again with Halloween just around the corner. So we're going to discuss all things 'spooky' this month on our Medieval Castle Blog. From legends to true, live witness accounts we've got some great medieval castle ghost stories to share with you!

First we will look at Carlisle Castle - a fabulous piece of medieval castle architecture in Britain in the county of Cumbria. With no less than 900 years of history to its name, Carlisle Castle has seen some truly turbulent times and has associations with many famous people. These include King David I (King of the Scots) who died there, William Wallace who once tried to attack the castle, Mary Queen of Scots who was imprisoned there for a time at the behest of Queen Elizabeth I, Bonnie Prince Charlie who also attacked the castle, and, in the 20th century, Rudolf Hess who during WW2 made an overnight stop at the castle on his way South having been taken prisoner in Scotland where he landed his plane. One can well imagine the intensity of some of those historic visits! It's not surprising then that Carlisle Castle is rumoured to be haunted. So much so that the TV series "Most Haunted" visited the castle this summer to film one of their shows (due to be aired some time this month). The shows producers are giving little away but have admitted during their stay, the team experienced mysterious footsteps in the gatehouse, strange phenomena in the Keep and something very unusual around one of the cherry trees in the castle's grounds. If you think it might not be genuine, think again ... staff at the castle have reported seeing mysterious figures on many occasions, especially on the top floor of the Keep.

Having visited Carlisle Castle myself I can honestly say that it has an intense atmosphere about it. The dungeons are particularly eery. See our photographs of the castle dungeons and you will know what I mean!

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Monday, June 8, 2009

Stunning Brougham Castle Keep

One of the most stunning parts of a medieval castle is the castle keep. Essentially a fortress within a fortress, the keep was built to be the last line of defence within a castle. Many medieval castles were able to withstand aggressive attack sometimes suffering an outer wall breach, only to resist and finally repel the attackers from within the confines of their castle keep.

Being a stronghold within a stronghold, the keep was often used for important food storage and also to retain prisoners. Within the keep of Carlisle Castle for example, the very bottom part of the keep was used to house prisoners from the Jacobite rebellion; you can still visit the keep and see the medieval dungeons today. (Quick nod to Dave at garage doors cumbria for reminding us about Carlisle Castle which is just round the corner from him!)


One particularly outstanding example of a castle keep is that at Brougham Castle in Cumbria, England close to the border with Scotland. Although a ruin, the bulk of the keep is still intact and makes for a wonderful sight on a summer's day. It is a great example of medieval castle architecture and well worth including on your itinerary should you ever be in the Border region.

Photographing castle keeps is something we make a point of every time we visit a medieval castle and we have compiled a stunning array of photos to date, particularly of castles in England and Scotland. Hopefully we'll find the time to upload a gallery on medieval-castle.com soon. Alas, not enough hours in the day .... but we'll get there! In the meantime, I will keep (pardon the pun!) writing about them within our castle blog so please revisit soon for more on great castle keeps, including those within haunted castles!

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Friday, October 31, 2008

Haunted Castles On Halloween

For some people Halloween is just another day; for others it's a special occasion when they might go to a Halloween party or watch a scary movie with friends. For some people though it's the opportunity to try and witness first hand the 'paranormal'. According to many websites there are special haunted castle trips available in Britain and of course Halloween is a popular time for booking these.

I can't say I would ever go on such a trip but apparently many people do and they really enjoy it. They don't all get to see ghosts of course but at the very least they can say they've visited a castle that's reputed to be haunted.

Chillingham Castle is one of Britain's most haunted castles and offers public tours of 'haunted areas of the castle and grounds'. It's also in one of Britain's most notable counties - Northumberland. If you're ever in the area it's well worth considering. For more information go to the castle's own official website and page.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Haunted Castles: Glamis Castle, Skibo Castle

There are many haunted castles in the world and perhaps no more so than in Scotland.

Scottish castles are numerous and all with their own story to tell. Centuries of feuding both amongst the clans themselves and against the English provide an amazing and colourful backdrop to the profile of so many castles in Scotland. No wonder many of them are haunted!

Take Glamis Castle for instance which is reported to be haunted by more than one ghost. These include the Grey Lady and the White Lady have both been seen at Glamis Castle. The White Lady has been seen the least but is thought to possibly be the ghost of Janet Douglas. She was wife to the 6th Lord Glamis (John) back in the 16th century and after his death became wife to Archibald Campbell; she was imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle by King James V and later burnt at the stake on Castle Hill. Another ghost is believed to be that of Earl Beardie, a gambler and card player whose strange story is well worth reading in full on our Glamis Castle page.

Skibo Castle is another reputedly haunted castle in Scotland. Renovated by Andrew Carnegie in the early 20th century, Skibo Castle is a wonderful example of castle architecture and design and was chosen by Madonna and Guy Ritchie as their wedding venue back in 2000. The main ghost at Skibo Castle is that of a girl who is said to have disappeared there whilst on a visit. At the time it was thought she was murdered by the Castle's keeper who hid her body within the grounds. In later years during renovations, a female skeleton was found behind one of the castle walls!

For more reading on these 2 wonderful Scottish Castles ....

Wiki page on Glamis Castle

Wiki page on Skibo Castle

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Haunted Castles - Featherstone Castle

As the third feature in this short series of posts on haunted castles of Britain, I have chosen a little known castle in the county of Northumberland - Featherstone Castle.

Northumberland plays host to many medieval castles including some of the most famous and breathtaking castles in Britain - Alnwick Castle and Bamburgh Castle . However, at the very edge of the county close to the border with Cumbria is where you will find Featherstone Castle.

This is one of those ghost stories that makes you sit back and pause to think for a while. Essentially, it's a tragic love story but one that had devastating consequences not just for the unhappy couple but for many others around them. It's for this reason that I chose to feature Featherstone Castle in this series.

Dating back to the 1400's when its construction began under Thomas de Featherstonehaugh, the castle remained in his family for centuries. It was in the 17th century that an event occurred giving rise to the castle's claim to being haunted. The story involves young love, a pre-arranged marriage, desire for revenge and murder. To read the full story go to our Featherstone Castle page.

Northumberland has another medieval castle with a tragic love story as the basis for its haunting - read about Warkworth Castle.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Haunted Castles - Chillingham Castle

The second of our features on haunted castles in the lead up to Halloween and all things ghostly is about Chillingham Castle in Northumberland. Even the castle's name has 'chilling' in it - how spooky is that?!

A 12th century monastery and Norman stronghold, Chillingham Castle only became a fortified castle some 200 hundred years later. It has a rich history tied to key events on both sides of the England/Scotland border. King Edward I of England stayed there when he was on his way to do battle with William Wallace in Scotland. Side-tracking for just a moment, anyone interested in Scottish history and particularly the life of William Wallace should pay a visit to the marvellous Wallace Monument in Stirling, Scotland. Having been there myself I can vouch for it being a worthwhile experience - you even get to see what is claimed to be Wallace's broadsword that he used in battle.

Back to Chillingham Castle ... stories abound about it being haunted. Two of the most notable ghosts claimed to have been seen at the castle are that of the 'Blue Boy' and that of Lady Mary Berkeley. Both are said to date back to events from the time of King Charles II of England. To read the full detail of both 'ghost stories' read our haunted Chillingham Castle page.

There are a number of haunted rooms in Chillingham Castle including the Great Hall, Minstrels Gallery and Chapel. Indeed, a good friend who once stayed overnight at Chillingham Castle said they were convinced the castle is haunted and that parts of the castle definitely had an eery feeling that they could not explain. Coming from the friend in question who is not given to flights of fancy and having read other accounts, I am more than a little inclined to believe that Chillingham Castle is possibly one of the most haunted places in all of Britain!

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Monday, October 6, 2008

Haunted Castles - Leap Castle

We're into October and of course at the end of the month is Halloween. In the run up to Halloween we're going to run a series of features on haunted castles. Here is our first - about haunted castles in Ireland.

Ireland has a long and eventful history and, in some ways, it is similar to that of Scotland. For centuries, warring clans dominated Irish history and today, much of Irish folkore and legend is based upon events from those dark times.

With territory being highly valued and much fought over, it's not surprising that Ireland has many medieval (and even pre-medieval) castles and with so much blood shed between chieftains and their clans, it's logical to assume that some of these castles might be haunted. There are a number reputedly haunted castles in Ireland but perhaps the most famous - and allegedly most haunted - is Leap Castle.

Leap Castle was built on top of an ancient rock close to Birr, a town in County Offaly. It was built for strategic reasons and is not in fact a 'medieval' castle - technically it's pre-medieval, having been built as far back as 800 AD, over 250 years before the Battle of Hastings! For anyone interested in this particular part of British history, there's a great Battle of Hastings Game courtesy of the BBC where you can opt to play the part of William or Harold.

At the time of its construction the castle was actually called "Leim ui Bhanain," or "Leap of the O'Bannons as it was the O'Bannon family who lived there. The family held considerable power in the area but were only "secondary chieftains" to the ruling clan of O'Carroll.

Leap Castle has a unique and bloody history and the claim by some that it is the most haunted castle in Ireland is based on the savage warring that took place between rival clans. Read more about the history behind haunted Leap Castle.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Haunted Hever Castle

Hever Castle has had associations with numerous famous people over the centuries including William Waldorf Astor but its most notable resident was surely Anne Boleyn - second wife of King Henry VIII and mother of Queen Elizabeth I of England.

Anne lived at Hever Castle as a child. Her life was to go on to reach an incredible 'high' as the most important woman in all England, only to end in terrible tragedy when she was beheaded at the Tower of London, still a young woman. It is said that her restless spirit still haunts Hever Castle and its grounds.

So it is from Tudor times that Hever Castle has its most notable historical associations but it is in fact a medieval castle by definition, having been built in the 13th century. That is why we have put Hever Castle into our haunted castles section on our main website, under the category of haunted english castles in fact. If you go to the section you will see lots of other english medieval castles listed , all with their own, individual haunted castle story to tell.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Ghostly Dunstanburgh - Haunted Medieval Castle

Dunstanburgh Castle is not an easy castle to reach. Its location on the Northumberland coast of England is fairly remote, beautiful though somehow eerie and desolate.

It was whilst driving back from a visit to Bamburgh Castle that we had the opportunity to see this magnificent medieval ruin for ourselves. As soon as it came into view in the distance, it seemed to loom with a striking, almost ghostly silhouette against the skyline. The 'ghostly' part of that description is very apt: Dunstanburgh Castle is reputed to be haunted - and by more than one ghost!

Once the largest castle in Northumberland, Dunstanburgh Castle was built in the 14th century by Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, nephew to the then King Edward II. Having led a rebellion against his king, Thomas was executed for treason in 1322. His execution, however, was not quick and he died an agonising death because of the executioner's inexperience. It's because of this that his ghost is said to haunt the castle that he built - Dunstanburgh.

Another ghost reported to haunt the castle's grounds is that of Sir Guy, a knight who sheltered nearby during a storm. His legend tells of a wizard and Sir Guy's attempt to rescue a young woman from the castle to no avail only to become a ghost without a shadow, searching throughout the centuries for the lady he sought to rescue.

There's more on haunted Dunstanburgh Castle in our haunted English castles section for anyone interested in reading further.

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Monday, March 31, 2008

A Medieval Sunset & Tragic Love Story

A beautiful sunset is always a pleasure to be savoured - but a medieval one? On a recent day trip to Northumberland, having visited the medieval castles of Alnwick, Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh earlier in the day, we had started heading inland for the journey back to Cumbria. We knew that Warworth was not too far away and because of its importance as a medieval castle (built in the 12th century), we decided to call in. It had been a sunny, cloudless though cold day and so it was that, without too much of a detour, we managed to get to Warkworth Castle in time to watch a glorious sunset.

When we arrived there was no-one there - only us. Overhead the sky was still blue and the setting sun cast a glorious golden light onto the castle. We couldn't gain entrance as it was well past opening time but without anyone to disturb us we were able to walk around the perimeter and down to the river in the direction of the hermitage.

I'll never forget the quiet of the early evening and how the only discernible movement around the castle was that of several black crows high up on top of the ruined walls; they were enjoying swooping down on the air currents and then back up again, clearly enjoying the last remnants of daylight before settling down to roost for the night.

Watching the crows I was reminded of the legend of Warkworth Castle's ghost, Sir Bertram de Bothal (of Bothal castle), a medieval knight whose story is one of the most tragic you will ever hear. Set in the 14th century when the powerful Percy family had taken up residence at Warkworth, Bertram fell in love with Lady Isobel Widdrington (sometimes referred to as Lady Isobella). By a weird quirk of fate, Bertram accidentally killed both his brother and Isobel and retreated to Warkworth for sanctuary. There he retreated to a nearby place carved out of rock, known as the hermitage and there he is reputed to have died of a broken heart, having carved into the rock the words:

'my tears have been my meat by day and by night'

The scar left by this tragedy is the ghost that is said to haunt the castle and its grounds - the ghost of Sir Bertram himself. A more detailed account of the legend of Warkworth can be found on our web page: Haunted Warkworth Castle.

There's also an interesting extract about Sir Bertram on Google Book Search

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Stunning Bamburgh Castle

I don’t think there’s a more stunning location in Britain for a castle than that enjoyed by Bamburgh Castle. If you have been there you know what I mean. If you haven’t, then you should! Indeed many people believe that Bamburgh Castle is the finest in all England.

It sits high up on a rock cliff overlooking the North Sea with views towards Holy Island and the Farne Islands and the drive approaching it is very special for the castle simply dominates the horizon. I’ve been to Bamburgh Castle several times and on every occasion I never cease to be amazed at how magnificent it looks. You cannot fail to be in awe of the people who actually built it; the sheer effort and planning involved in its construction must have been mammoth.

Having parked our car at the foot of the castle (left is a photo we took of Bamburgh Castle from the car park below), we walked up the fairly steep drive to approach it. As it was a beautiful, sunny day we decided not to go straight up to the castle but to venture a few hundred yards beyond, down through the sand dunes and onto the beach. I can close my eyes even now as I write this and feel that sea breeze on my face and recapture the panoramic, open views. What a setting for a medieval castle! It’s the kind of place you just can’t imagine existing – until you go there. We had 2 cameras with us that day and I can honestly say the shutters didn’t stop clicking for quite some time.

For those interested in haunted castles, Bamburgh has its own, striking ghost story. Read about ‘The Pink Lady’ on our page about haunted Bamburgh Castle.

For those interested in medieval architecture, the oldest, surviving part of the castle is its Keep, believed to have been constructed in the mid 12th century. Today the Keep houses an armoury as well as firearms and crossbows. If you’re interested in what is open to the public at Bamburgh Castle, just follow the link to the official website.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Medieval Blog Launch

As one of 4 ‘medieval’ enthusiasts, I’m delighted to welcome you to the Blog of medieval-castle.com. Our website has been in existence for a number of years and we are committed to developing it to its full potential with ever more information, photographs and special features such as our haunted castles and fantasy castles sections.

Medieval history offers many different things worthy of study – from castle design to the many aspects of medieval life, warfare and weaponry through to the medieval crusades and then on to medieval literature, medieval music and medicine. The list is almost endless!

One thing that makes medieval study really exciting is that we are privileged to be able to see tangible evidence from that era – suits of armour, medieval art, medieval weapons and of course the castles themselves, though often only ruins.

Photo: Caerlaverock Castle - the kind of moated medieval castle that gets medieval enthusiasts excited!

I recently made a trip with my family to the Northumberland coast and saw several amazing medieval castles – Alnwick Castle, Bamburgh Castle, Dunstanburgh Castle and Warkworth Castle. The last 3 are reputed to be seriously haunted so it was just as well that we visited them during daylight! Possibly the most intruiging thing that emerged from the trip was that each castle was very different from the others - in design, architectural features, location and even atmosphere. So much so that I can’t cover them in this one article so I plan to write about each experience separately.

The first one is going to be Alnwick Castle, a truly breathtaking place to visit.

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