Home In English Ghostly Legends and Histories of St Andrews Castle

Ghostly Legends and Histories of St Andrews Castle


St Andrews Castle is a historic castle located in the coastal town of St Andrews, Fife, Scotland. It was originally built in the 12th century and served as the primary residence of the bishops and archbishops of St Andrews. Over the centuries, the castle underwent several renovations and expansions and was also the site of several significant historical events, including the Wars of Scottish Independence and the Scottish Reformation. The castle was partially destroyed in the 16th century and today, its ruins serve as a popular tourist attraction, showcasing Scotland’s rich history and cultural heritage. Visitors can tour the ruins and learn about the castle’s past through interpretive exhibits and guided tours. The castle also offers stunning views of the town and the North Sea, making it a must-visit destination for history and architecture enthusiasts.

St Andrews, known for its legendary connections to golf, is home to several ghost stories. One of the most famous involves the ghost of golfer Young Tom Morris, who won the Open Championship four times at the young age of 17. Tragically, he lost his wife and baby in childbirth and died of a heart attack just four months later at the age of 24.

Another ghostly figure associated with St Andrews is Patrick Hamilton, a 16th-century student and teacher at the university who was charged with heresy and burned at the stake. Legend has it that his spirit still haunts the university, and students are warned not to step on his initials for fear of a curse. Some students have reported the smell of burning flesh near his execution site.

The Veiled Nun of St Leonards is another famous ghost story, where a disfigured nun who mutilated herself after her lover’s death is said to roam Nuns Walk, lifting her veil at unsuspecting passersby.

This story is connected to the Pends, a street located next to the Cathedral, which is known for its ominous ambiance, due to its arches that stretch across the road and the vaulted entrance to the former monastery. This street once served as a checkpoint for pilgrims seeking cures from the plague, but many were turned away by the fearful clergy and left to die in the nearby town.

Dubbed the Nun’s Walk, this street is said to have an eerie feeling of being watched by unseen entities, with some people reporting that their dogs cower from invisible energy on the path. Some unlucky travelers have even claimed to see a woman wearing a black veil and carrying a lamp.

According to folklore, the woman was once of great beauty and intelligence, with many suitors vying for her affection. However, her heart belonged to only one, who either died or left her before they could be wed. Driven to despair, she disfigured herself by cutting off her ears, eyelids, nose, and lips and branding her cheeks with a hot iron, hoping to make herself unattractive to men. She sought refuge in a nunnery, but her wounds were too severe, and she passed away shortly after.

If encountered, the woman is said to reveal her hideously mutilated face, pulling back her veil and using the lamp to show her wounds.

The Kind Monk of St Rule’s Tower, on the other hand, is a helpful ghost who allows visitors safe passage up the stairs. In spite of his kindness, he has a sad history. In 1393, the Prior of the Priory was named Robert de Montrose, who was known for his fair and responsible nature and generous heart. However, there were instances when he had to discipline some of the monks under his care, including Thomas Plater or Platter. Plater resented the reprimand and sought revenge by sneaking into the Prior’s bedchamber one night and killing him.

Another tale claims that the Prior was in the habit of ascending to the top of St Rule’s Tower to stargaze. His murderer silently followed him up the spiral staircase and, upon reaching the top, pushed him over the parapet.

In the 1940s or 1950s, a visitor to the tower stumbled into the dimly lit spiral staircase and was assisted by a man wearing a cassock. The visitor declined the offer and was horrified when he felt nothing as the “kindly monk” squeezed past him. Since then, many have reported seeing the ghost of Robert De Montrose falling from the parapet of the tower.

The White Lady is another ghost said to reside in St Andrews, appearing dressed all in white and waving a handkerchief from a window at St Rule’s Tower.

Eyewitness accounts of her presence can be traced back to the 1800s and are consistently described as an ethereal figure. She has been seen around the haunted tower and its surrounding graveyard, including the parapet walk.

One particularly frightening encounter took place when the White Lady passed through an iron gate, sending a group of fishermen, who were returning from the harbor, into a panic. The reports of her appearance are uniform – a beautiful, slender woman with long black hair, dressed in a long white gown and white gloves and radiating a bright light. Some even claim that she was wearing a veil and holding a book.

In 1868, stonemasons discovered a well-preserved woman dressed in white within a sealed chamber in the tower, leading to speculation about her ghostly presence.

There is also a series of watchtowers around the castle. It is possible that the Clephane family used these towers as storage but one particular tower was closed down during the plague epidemy. This tower is also said to be haunted by the White Lady. If you happen to be there, you can easily recognize this tower because this is the only square-shaped tower compared to the others which are circular.

But the tower has more to hide. In 1868, stonemasons discovered cracks in the wall and they could see mummified bodies inside. It was later examined by professors at the local university. According to the theory, it is possible that the saints’ bodies were put into these towers and their bodies got mummified over time. Before the castle was built, the area was inhabited by monks whose roots were in Celtic Church. It was common for Celt monks to hide their precious possessions in buildings, including the bodies of saints. The thing is, the Christian Church would have destroyed these items, so they had to be hidden. Hiding saint bodies and religious items might be another explanation for the haunting.

Despite its historical significance, St Andrews Castle is not just known for its past but also for its eerie ghost stories. Whether you believe in the supernatural or not, these stories only add to the rich cultural heritage and legendary history of this remarkable place. From the haunted streets of the Pends, to the kind Monk of St Rule’s Tower, and the White Lady, who is said to still wander the castle and surrounding areas, St Andrews Castle is sure to be an unforgettable experience for all who visit.

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