The MacGregor and MacDuff Podcast – Scottish Ghost Stories

In September, we released our Heritage Collection, dedicated to bringing you closer to your Scottish family heritage in a unique and stylish way. The range includes clan tartan kilts, as well as kilt accessories featuring your clan crest, giving you the opportunity to honour and celebrate your family heritage.

To celebrate the launch of our Heritage Collection, we’ve created our podcast series. The MacGregor and MacDuff mini-podcast series is made up of three episodes that tell the lesser-known stories behind some of Scotland’s most famous clans. These include ghost stories, fairy tales and, of course, bloody clan feuds.

This week’s podcast is ghost stories – happy Halloween!

In this episode, learn about when the Devil’s appearance at a card game in Glamis Castle, the screams at Culzean Castle and what happened when Isobel Elliott went to look for her son and husband.

Glamis Castle

Jean-Paul Satre famously said that “Hell is other people” but Earl Beardie may have disagreed and said that, actually, Hell is a game of cards.

… You’re probably going to need a little context to go with that statement I’m sure, vague as it is.

Before we go any further, you’ll also need to undertake the rather unpleasant task of getting to know a little about Earl Beardie himself. You wouldn’t wish the Devil on your worst enemy but you’d maybe wish him on a guy like Earl Beardie.

Earl Beardie – also known as Alexander Lindsay, 4th Earl of Crawford – wasn’t a particularly nice guy, In fact, we’d confidently go as far as to say he was pretty evil.

Does that sound dramatic? Well, buckle up your kilts and pull your sashes tight, ladies and gentleman because we are in no way understating the matter.

So many stories to choose from.

What best to encapsulate his evil as quickly as possible?

Ah yes.

Of course.

The Running Man.

The story goes that, in an attempt to humiliate one of his servants, he made the man strip naked and run around the Castle Glamis grounds. This actually turned out to be a hunt accompanied by other Earls and their hunting dogs. It’s said that the servant’s screams rang out across the lands whilst the Earls and their noblewomen laughed.

As with many historical Scottish stories, there’s no definitive answer in regards to what happened to the servant’s body but it is assumed that what little of him wasn’t devoured by the Earl’s dogs was taken care of by the local wildlife.

To this day, it’s said that the servant can still be heard screaming throughout the halls of Castle Glamis, remembered not by name but as “The Running Man”, without a single drop of irony.

Now that you have an idea of who he was, let’s talk about the famous card game.

Picture the scene.

Earl Beardie, Saturday night in with the lads. You know how it goes. Few drinks, more food than they could possibly need, and, naturally, a pack of cards.

The drinks were flowing, the laughs were many and it was one of those nights, we’ve all had them, where time just flies by and there’s no hurry to round up the evening.

This was made all the more clear when a servant knocked on the door to the Games Room not long before midnight to remind the Earl that of course, he shouldn’t gamble on the Sabbath, seeing as it’s a sin and all. The Earl shooed him away – dismissive and aggressive whilst doing so, because, as mentioned… evil.

The clock turned to midnight.

Knock.

Knock.

Knock.

A cloaked figured asked to join their game.

Sometime later, yelling and screaming was heard from the Games Room. It’s said that when the servant opened the door to the room, he was met with Earl Beardie engulfed in flames.

Who was the cloaked man? You may ask.

Who was the cloaked man and why was the man on fire and WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?! You may ask.

First of all, the cloaked figure, if you haven’t figured out, was of course the Devil himself!

The Earl was on fire because he played cards on the Sabbath and the Devil, I mean, it’s the Devil! His punishments are harsh.

As for what’s actually going on…

Well, you can choose what to believe. Some legends say that the Earl died there and then. Others say he died around 5 years later but either way, you can still hear the screams coming from the chamber in Glamis Castle.

Culzean Castle

If you go down to Culzean Castle today, you’re in for a big surprise.

Well.

Maybe not in for one big surprise but a bunch of small, spooky, ghostly surprises originating from the Kennedy Clan.

Culzean Castle is situated on the South Ayrshire Cliffs in the West of Scotland. Like all Scottish castles, it’s shrouded in legend and mystery.

Let’s start with the Ghostly Piper. He heralds a marriage in the Kennedy family and if you happen to be around the castle on a stormy evening, you can hear the moan of his bagpipes.

Spend some time around the grounds if possible, specifically Piper’s Brae and the churches ruins.

The piper was said to have disappeared after going for a “wander” and was never seen again but his pipes can allegedly be heard around surrounding lands.

Anyway.

Listeners, meet Gilbert Kennedy. Gilbert Kennedy, listeners.

Gilbert Kennedy was the fourth Earl of Cassillis. Gilbert was an ambitious guy. So ambitious, in fact, that he wanted to obtain land (the important word here, this is Scottish history after all).

Now what I mean by that is, our friend had no intention to actually, god forbid, buy the land that he wanted.

No, no, don’t be silly.

He instead arranged for Allan Stewart, Commendator of Crossraguel Abbey to be intercepted at Culzean Castle.

If you go to Culzean Castle, listen for the screams.

The blood-curling screams.

Allan Stewart was taken to the dungeons- the Black Vault, specifically, and, for those of you who are a little faint-hearted, you may want to skip a minute of this.

He was

Well,

He was roasted over a spit until he agreed to sign the Crossraguel Abbey lands to Cassillis.

He was eventually removed from the spit and allowed to recover.

Until

Well, he was taken back there a few days later for refusing to sign extra paperwork related to the transaction.

Cassillis was eventually fined £2000 and forced to pay Allan Stewart a pension for life once the council got wind of his misdeeds. However, he was allowed to keep the land.

Visitors to Culzean Castle have mentioned distinct screaming sounds and a crackling fire sound in the depths of the castle vaults and these are attributed to Allan Stewart’s ghost.

So, why not go down to Culzean Castle today you may be in for a big surprise.

Buckholm Tower

Finally, let’s visit Buckholm Tower.

In the latter part of the 18th Century, a Laird called James Pringle lived within the tower.

He was an evil, evil man. So evil in fact that his wife, and child, left him – something that was unheard of back then and hugely frowned upon.

One day, James was called upon by the Captain of a troop of Dragoons to assist in the breakup of an unlawful assembly of covenants on Ladhope Moor. Pringle was more than happy to oblige – his disdain towards these men was well-known and he was respected by local authorities.

However, before he got there, word had travelled and most of the covenants had managed to disperse apart from two men; Geordie Elliott and his son William.

Pringle has an unquenchable bloodlust and his first instinct was to kill the men but, he was reminded by the troops that the father and son may have information on the estranged covenants and it was agreed that Pringle would take the men to his dungeon overnight and they could be dealt with in the morning.

Fairly reasonable, right?

Well…

As the men were confined in the dungeon, he ate and drank his way through the evening. In case you hadn’t gathered by now, Pringle was an angry man. This anger was intensified when he drank.

Drunk on brandy, he staggered down to the dungeon to see his prisoners. His servants told him that they’d heard cries for help from within – the older man had taken a fall and desperately needed medical attention. Pringle shoved them to the side and entered the dungeon.

First there was nothing.

Then.

A heavy blow.

A scream.

Then.

… Dragging.

Suddenly there was a knock on the door.

Knock

Knock

Knock

It was Isobel Elliott, looking for her husband and son.

He grabbed the elderly woman and dragged her down to the dungeon to meet her relatives and that, she did.

As she entered the dungeon, she was met with them both hanging like animal carcasses from a solid piece of oak.

She staggered away. Sobbing, stunned.

He’d killed them both.

As she fell to the floor in grief, the Laird called her an old witch.

The seconds the words left his mouth, she suddenly stood in front of him, eyes burning with hatred and she cursed him.

The Laird was profoundly, personally haunted by this curse. He was convinced that ghostly hounds could, and did attack him through the night.

His servants reported that he was often seen fighting off the invisible hounds.

Following his afternoon horseriding, he’d suddenly run to his servants, begging them to keep the hounds away from him but there were no hounds to be seen.

Even as James Pringle died, he was convulsing as if he was still being ravaged by hounds.

Then, just before the first anniversary of his death, a ghostly figure was seen sprinting towards the entrance from a pack of hounds before vanishing.

The following night, people within the household heard the sounds and voice of James Pringle screaming for help following a loud banging on the door of the tower.

As the door was opened, though, there was nobody to be seen and nothing to hear.

On the actual anniversary of his death, the sounds were heard again but this time from the dungeon.

It’s said that every June, these same sounds can still be heard from Buckholm Tower.