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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