Witches, dragons and ghosts, Edinburgh Castle are said to have it all. The sound of bagpipe and drummers can be heard without anyone playing, and those accused for witchcraft as well as prisoners of wars are said to haunt the old castle.

Although the castle as we know it today wasn’t built until the 12th century, the Castle Rock has been lived on for more than 2000 years. It is built on top of an extinct volcano formed 350 million years ago. The castle itself has been built and rebuilt over the years but you can still find traces of the castle that are over 900 years old. 

It is also the place in Britain that has been attacked most times with a record of 23 attempts to take over the castle. It has a story filled with wars, bloody battles and tortured, and is said by many to be a haunted landmark that watches over the old town. 

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One thing the castle was in the lead for was for burning more witches during the 16th century than the rest of the country. Over 300 women were tortured before being burned at the stake at Castle Hill, everything from simple peasants to noble women.

Witches, dragons and ghosts, Edinburgh Castle are said to have it all. The sound of bagpipe and drummers can be heard without anyone playing, and those accused for witchcraft as well as prisoners of wars are said to haunt the old castle.
Nine Maidens: Morgan le Fey is said to be one of the Nine Maidens in Arthurian legend. Her depicted by Anthony Frederick Sandys from 1864.

The most famous witch being Dame Euphane MacCalzean who was accused of using witchcraft to sink a ship. And if we are to believe the haunted legends, there are perhaps one or two of the accused witches that are haunting the castle.

The castle holds many legends to its name. According to the origin story, the first castle that was built on the hill was named The Castle of the Maidens, built as a shrine to the Nine Maidens, a mysterious and old cult of religion that can be found throughout many countries in Europe. One of these supposed Nine Maidens in Scotland are often attributed to being Morgan le Fay, a mythical figure in Arthurian legend that are said to hold magical abilities.

Even if there are no real substance to her being a real figure, the legends of fantastical magical things keeps being told around the castle grounds. Another legend from older times is the dragon. As far back as 1558 there were several reports about a dragon that was supposedly seen on one of the biggest towers.

Even if there are no more reports about dragon sightings, there are still many urban legends about the castle that lives on to this day. There is also an urban legend that if students pass through the castle gates, they will never pass their exams. Many students are following this rule, and never visit the castle during their stay here, just in case.

Haunted Legends

As well as fantastical rumors about dragons and mythical sorceresses, there are legends of ghosts and hauntings. Among the many haunted rumors of the castle, there are reports of the strange sound of drums and music. You can also hear the vague knocking sound you can never be sure to be the wind or something more ominous. 

People report of A sensation of being touched, pushed as well as a feeling of dread and despair can follow you when walking along the stony walls. There are also reported sightings of curious lights and flaky figures in the shadows. 

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Following is a description of the ghosts that are said to be haunting the castle:

Ghosts of the Castle

The Piper

Walking in the historical city of Edinburgh, the sound of bagpipes is heard on every occasion. On a random street corner, from the tourist shops, during a parade or as a part of the historical landmarks. Bagpipes are the thing, perhaps even from the ghosts of the city.

Witches, dragons and ghosts, Edinburgh Castle are said to have it all. The sound of bagpipe and drummers can be heard without anyone playing, and those accused for witchcraft as well as prisoners of wars are said to haunt the old castle.
The Piper: The Bagpiper by Johann Christoph Erhard.

The most famous ghost that is said to haunt the castle is the piper that was sent down to explore some tunnels that ran under the castle a couple of hundred years ago. 

According to the legend, the regimental bagpiper played his pipe as he ascended down the Royal mile, a road that goes through the old town from the castle. Halfway down the mile to Tron Kirk the music suddenly stopped.

A search party was sent down to investigate after the music stopped, but the piper was never found again. He is said to walk the royal mile to this day and the unmistakable sound of bagpipes can be heard from underground. 

So perhaps walking down the Royal Mile, the sound of the bagpipes echoing throughout the whole city might as well be from the ghost piper?

The Headless Drummer Boy

Another ghost that has been sighted on several occasions is that of a little drummer boy without a head. He was first seen in 1650 in the central courtyard of the castle. He was walking in circles, drumming his drum, and when the castle servants looked closer, they saw that he had no head. It is said that he drummed all through that night and continued until the morning. 

Although he has not been seen again, he is considered a bad omen if he ever is to appear again. The same year he showed himself when Oliver Cromwell invaded Scotland and laid siege to the castle. 

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But even though no one has seen him since that  night, the servants working there have throughout the years claimed to have heard his drumming in the quiet hallways of the castle from time to time. 

The Grey Lady
Witches, dragons and ghosts, Edinburgh Castle are said to have it all. The sound of bagpipe and drummers can be heard without anyone playing, and those accused for witchcraft as well as prisoners of wars are said to haunt the old castle.
Janet Douglas: Lady Glamis was a noblewoman accused of witchcraft, who was executed by burning during the reign of James V of Scotland.

A mysterious lady has been reported staying in the older parts of the castle. Sometimes she is just seen wandering around in her 16th century dress and sometimes she is reported to weep. 

There are several real nobles she is thought to be. The first one is Janet Douglas or Lady Glamis. She was accused of witchcraft and burned to the stake outside the castle on July 17th in 1537 with her son watching it all. It is said that even back then, they knew that the accusations were wrong, but King James V held a grudge towards her brother and took it out on her. 

Others think that it could be the French Marie de Guise, mother of Mary Queen of Scots. She died a catholic and the Protestant nobles held her body inside the castle for months before returning her to France, wrapped in a cloth inside a lead coffin. 

The Prisoners

There are also the castle dungeons where they housed criminals for centuries. There were many wars that the castle dungeon saw, like the Seven Years War, The American War of Independence and the Napoleonic Wars. And according to legend, from one of these wars, the ghost of a prisoner is said to haunt the castle to this day. 

The legend tells of a prisoner who tried to escape in a wheelbarrow filled with dung. He now haunts the place and tries to push visitors down castle Rock. What gives him away is the lingering smell of dung in the air. 

The Legends

That was some of the ghosts that are said to be haunting the castle. Old places like these will have its history, and through all the bloodshed and fantastical legends surrounding the place since the first people arrived on the rock, the place will hold its stories.

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References

The Most Haunted Places in Edinburgh’s Old Town – Dickins

Edinburgh’s most haunted locations | The Scotsman

The Headless Drummer Boy – Folklore Scotland

Edinburgh Castle Ghosts

Facts, Fiction And Urban Legends About Edinburgh Castle

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