The castles of Europe today bring romanticized visions of what life was once like during feudal times. Castles are remnants of a dark and somewhat sinister time in the history of man, albeit a testament to the workmanship of time long gone. Centuries of everyday lives, war, murder, torture, and politics have left an indelible mark on the thick stone walls. It’s no wonder that energies surrounding these fortresses somehow manage to make their presence known in modern day.
Bran Castle was built in 1212 deep in the Carpathian Mountains in Romania by the Teutonic Knights and once home to Vlad Tepes, also known as Vlad the Impaler. It’s been open to the public for only the last 40 years but forever will be immortalized as Bram Stoker’s castle for Dracula. With over 700 years of a dark history, who knows what lingers in Transylvania.
Dragsholm Castle in Denmark is famous for at least 3 ghosts that are said to inhabit it (but said to have more than 100). It’s no wonder it has all that psychic energy since this famous castle was built in the 12th century, and is now a hotel. The Grey Lady once worked in the castle and is said to haunt the rooms at night making sure things are alright. The White Lady seems to be the daughter of one former owner who was said to have been imprisoned in the castle when her father found that she was having an affair with a commoner. I must add that bones and remnant of a white dress were found when workers tore down a wall sometime in the 20th century. The Earl of Bothwell, James Hepburn died at the castle after being imprisoned. The Earl was said to have been consort to Mary, Queen of Scots and his ghost (with carriage and horses) are said to haunt the courtyard and visitors often hear the sound of horses.
Brissac Castle (Chateau de Brissac) in the Loire Valley in France was rebuilt in the 17th century and has over 200 rooms. It is said to be haunted by Charlotte and her lover, who were assassinated by Charlotte’s husband, Jacque de Breze. He sold it soon after they died because he couldn’t stand to hear their moaning in the night.
Glamis Castle in Scotland was the home of the Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth of England’s mother. Once a royal hunting lodge, the castle’s construction was started in the 15th century. What makes this castle exceptionally creepy is the reported number of hauntings. One ghost reported to haunt Glamis Castle for hundreds of years, is the Grey Lady, who is reported to be Janet Douglas, the wife of one of Lords Glamis. There’s talk of a secret room that’s been closed up for over 300 years, since it’s said that 2nd Lord Glamis and the Devil himself play cards nightly and sounds of dice, stamping, and swearing can be heard from one of the towers.
Edinburgh Castle is said to be one of the most haunted places in Scotland. This castle which is built on an extinct volcano, a maze of underground tunnels, and turbulent history really give this 900 year old castle a dark and foreboding air of ghostly activity. There are reports of a headless drummer, prisoners from the American Revolution, and even the ghost of a dog! A piper was said to have completely vanished while exploring the dark underground tunnels, it is said that you can still hear him play his pipes today. There are reports of colored orbs being photographed by tourists down in the dungeons, where a countless number were tortured and killed. Is this castle haunted by those who have died such a wretched death here?
Ballygally Castle, in Northern Ireland was built in 1625 and is said to be haunted by Lady Isobel Shaw, who knocks on doors and disappears. Lady Isobel’s husband was said to have locked her in her room and starved her. She killed herself by jumping out the window, or was she pushed? No matter, the ghost of Lady Shaw is said to be a friendly spirit and there’s a room dedicated to the ghost up in oldest part of the tower of the castle.
Ruthin Castle, now a luxury hotel, was built in the 13th century. This castle was controlled by Reginald de Grey, supposedly the former Sheriff of Nottingham, whose army defeated Robin Hood. The ghost of Lady Grey is said to haunt this Welsh castle as she was tried and executed for killing her husband’s peasant lover. She’s been known to be seen in the banquet hall or up on the battlements.
Leap Castle is probably the most haunted of them all. This castle built in the 14th or 15th century is said to be the most haunted castle in Ireland. The bloody history of this castle is evident in the killing of one brother, who was a priest (The Bloody Chapel), in trying to gain control of the castle sometime in the 1500’s. Strange sounds have been said to come from this area. Off the Bloody Chapel, there’s a drop-floor with spikes that was used to kill prisoners. A countless number of bones were found in this room (including a watch made in the 1840’s) during a renovation at the turn of the 20th century. The elemental that is said to haunt the castle in the most frightening way was said to have been roused by Mildred Darby, a former owner. She was to have dabbled in the occult and was said to have awakened this elemental. This apparition brings deep fear and dread. Those who have seen this elemental said it has human looking eyes and smells like a rotting corpse.
The reportedly haunted castles of Europe today have many a story to tell. They were once, or still are, someone’s home. Life and death, politics and intrigue often went hand-in-hand; this energy would certainly make an everlasting impression inside the thick walls of these centuries old castles. Are these reported hauntings a way for those of the past to be heard? Are they a way for those lives lost to find redemption and peace? Whatever echoes through the halls of these estates, maybe we should stop, listen, and learn.