Ferlie is a Scots word for any mysterious happening, sight, or sound. This may be Nessy, elves, fairies, pixies, other wee folk, or something worse. 

Ghosts are probably the most common ferlies and Scottish ghosts may be animal. If you take a
walk near Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbrightshire, you might sight a playful black dog. And as an
animal lover, you might be wantin’ to pat him on the head. But when you do, dinna be surprised
when yer hand goes right through him!

At Ashintully Castle, Green Jean is a green ghost (most Scottish ghosts wear green for some
reason and are called such because of the color of their gowns). She walks there on a regular
basis lest humans forget her uncle murdered her for her money. In Crathes Castle, you may see a lady picking up a baby from the hearth – both are green ghosts.

At Stirling Castle, there is a lady who walks across the courtyard, heading for the area where the
ladies once watched the knights jousting – she is one of the pink ghosts – ones who wear pink

Mary, Queen of Scots, disguised as a pageboy, haunts Borthwick Castle. This was her disguise
when she left the Castle after her husband Darnley’s murder. Bonnie Prince Charles haunts
Culloden House, near Culloden Moor, the scene of his defeat. 

Musical ghosts haunt some castles. Culzean is haunted by a ghostly piper. Balcomie Castle, Fife,
was the scene of a hanging. The criminal – a boy – received this sentence for the offense of
whistling after having been clearly instructed not to do so. The ghost can be clearly heard

Glamis Castle is chock full of ghosts. It is the birthplace of Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon who married
the future King George VI. The castle dates back to the 11th Century and is the location where
Macbeth murdered Duncan. The Clock Tower is regularly visited by Janet Douglas, who was
burned at the stake in the 16th Century for practicing witchcraft – as well as plotting to kill the
bride of James VI. It is also the ancestral seat of the Strathmore family, one of whom was
addicted to drink and card playing. When urged to quit, he said he would continue to play until
Doomsday – and play he does.

 At Drumlanrig, Wigtownshire, Lady Anne Douglas has difficulty walking with the poise of other
lady ghosts. She became a ghost when she literally lost her head. She can be seen carrying it in
her hand.

 At Rait Castle, Nairn, lives a ghostly lady with no hands. She was the daughter of the Chief of the Comyns and fell in love with a young lad of the Clan Mackintosh – which was an enemy clan
(shades of Romeo and Juliet!) Of course this could not be allowed so the Mackintoshes were
invited to dinner with the intent to murder them. One must have thought twice in those days
before accepting a dinner invitation. When the hosts saw that their guests had arrived armed, the girl’s father was so angry he blamed his daughter for betraying her own family and cut off her
hands. In distress, she jumped from the tower to her death. Fortunately, she didn’t lose her head
for how would she have carried it with no hands?

St. Andrews is quite well-stocked with ghosts. It is located close to the sea with its fog that helps
even the ungifted see the ghosts manifest themselves. If you happen to see a coach with horses,
which can be heard as well, be wary – there is no driver – and all are phantoms. Also calling St.
Andrews home are a smothered piper, a screaming skull, and the obligatory beautiful lady in

If you can visit the gloomy and eerie pass of Glencoe, the scene of the unspeakable cruel
massacre, and do not see even a single ghost, you probably do not have the sight.

If you go to Scotland to view the ghosts, don’t ask a Lowlander – he’ll not know (unless he has
some Highland blood in him). It’s probably best to just watch – and listen.

 [Back to Stories Page]