Ghost Stories Green Ladies and Ghastly Goings-On in Scotland

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Byline: Betty Lowry Daily Herald Correspondent

When I asked Charlie Hunter about ghosts in Scotland he agreed I'd come to the right place. "It's all been murder and mayhem," he said cheerfully.

Charlie, my weekend guide , is a stalwart Highlander who only paled slightly when he learned he had the haunted room in the old part of Thainstone House Hotel & Country Club in Inverurie.

The maid told Charlie not to worry. The Green Lady means no harm, and also appears in the dining room from time to time. Charlie said ghostly spirits are second only to the drinkable kind in the hearts of Highlanders, and an ancient house without a specter is as scarce as black heather... or a lady whose afterlife costume is something other than green or gray.

Although I carefully explained I was more interested in sites than sightings, Charlie was visibly disappointed when the famous weeping lady in green failed to appear in the corridors of Crathes Castle in Banchory. Nor did the castle treasure, a horn of keys presented to Alexander Burnett by Robert the Bruce in 1323, console him.

Charlie had hoped for the Green Lady of Fyvie Castle, near Turriff, who, it's said, still walds the corridors. In life she was Dame Drimid, starved to death by Alexander Seton in the late 16th century because she bore him only daughters. He went on to become Chancellor of Scotland. The ghost scratched her name on a window ledge three stories above the ground. To our regret, the Green Lady did not manifest herself.

Fyvie's other famous ghost is Annie, the daughter of Tifty the miller, who was beaten to death by her brothers and father to keep her from her lover, Andrew Lammie, the castle trumpeter. For many years a ghostly trumpet sounded whenever a laird was about to die.

Earlier still, Fyvie was cursed by Thomas the Rhymer who was outraged when the front door was slammed in his face. ("'Twas the wind", Charlie explained, "but Thomas never believed that.") "No eldest son will ever inherit the castle until three weeping stones are found," Prophesied Thomas, also known as Thomas the Seer. They never were, and no Forbes-Leith eldest son ever claimed the castle.

In Stirling Castle, in the town of Stirling, the green lady is said to have been royal attendant who saved the life of Mary, Queen of Scots, when the draperies on her bed caught fire. the lady's appearance heralds a disaster. Charlie was relieved when an open window turned out to be the cause of a rustling curtain.

In Dunstaffnage Castle, found in the town of Oban, the green lady is not identified except as one who weeps before the death of a Campbell and hums with joy when a pleasant event occurs. "These are one and the same," the publican said a trifle sourly. Like many MacDonalds here abouts, he nourishes a centuries old hate for the Campbell's.

He told us we should go to Dalzell House in Hamilton, where a green lady favors green Chinese silk and her wraith floats amid the scent or oriental perfume. Dalzell House, he said, also has a white lady the ghost of a 19th century housemaid who threw herself over the battlements into the rocky gorge of the Whinney Burn, and a gray lady who wears the uniform of an army nurse in the great war. Its presumed she still searches for those who need her care.

Unfortunately, these triple threat was off our route. Though we spent time in the gardens of Crathes Castle the Gray Lady of Agnes did not appear. She was banished from the house by her son for poisoning her daughter in law to be. The gardeners say she still looks for the antidote.

So many Scottish country hotels were once country houses, it might be hard to find one free of ghosts. on the grounds of Dryburgh abbey hotel, in St. Boswells, a Gray Lady crosses the chain bridge eternally looking for her lover- a monk put to death by his abbot.

Dalhousie Castle Hotel, in Bonnyrigg, has a Gray Lady who was once mistress to the master of the castle and imprisoned forever in a turret by the outraged wife. …