Scottish Ghosts and Mysteries
As I write this, it’s almost Halloween and there’s just me, the keyboard, darkness falling and a mysterious figure of a Highlander, clad in 18th-century tartan, who stands outside the window.
He’s there every year on the anniversary of his death, after his dirk (or sgian dhub) slipped out of his sock and he tripped and fell on it. OK, OK, only kidding about the Highlander.
There’s a whole page of Scottish hauntings elsewhere on this site but, as it’s the season, I was thinking of a couple of spooky happenings right here in Scotland that I personally experienced.
And this is true..."draws his chair closer to the fire and stares at the dying embers. A gust of wind unexpectedly rocks the house." (Stop sniggering at the back there.)
My apparition in the Highlands of Scotland
No, really…Once, during a northern summer of long ago, I was driving in an open-topped car with a companion down a deserted Highland road. It was late in the day, with the sun streaming low and yellow from my right.
I looked up, eastwards, on my left, past my passenger, to the moorlands. Sitting on a fence and smiling down at me was a girl I had known at university and, even back then, hadn't seen for some years.
Why someone in ordinary clothes should be sitting alone of an evening, miles from anywhere, by a road in the remote north-west of Scotland, I cannot say. So, I can only conclude, she wasn't there. I saw her, clearly lit by the setting sun, but she was unnoticed or invisible to my passenger.
Where, where? (I hear you ask) Well, it was on the A894 just above the junction with the road that runs alongside Loch Assynt, in the north-west of Scotland - if you must know. It was a pretty lonely spot in those days.
So that's my own contribution to the list of the many haunted places in Scotland. I saw someone who couldn’t have been there. Ho-hum.
She said she took these 'astral trips' (or some similar mumbo-jumbo).
And, look, she really wasn't there, OK? And I haven't seen her since. Except, while we were both at uni., she had once remarked to me, somewhat mysteriously, that she sometimes made trips to see her friends ... but without leaving her hall of residence, (what we called proper student accommodation back then).
Honestly- that's what she said. You know, looking back, I reckon her room should have made it into haunted locations in Scotland main page.)
Do I believe in Scottish ghosts?
Absolutely not – it’s all in your imagination or in the suggestion of the tour guide…
I did once take part in a ghost hunt in Edinburgh with a couple of spooky specialists. This involved touring some dark and ancient vaulted premises near the Royal Mile, and at one point being told in sepulchral tones that what felt like a very ordinary draught of air in a cold and unheated cellar was likely a paranormal manifestation.
(In which case the house we live in right now has a lot of manifestations. But I still think they’re just leaky window seals.)
During this same ghost-hunting foray, at several points I just felt like saying ‘Look, guys, why don’t we just turn the lights on? It would improve the atmosphere a lot.’
It took a turn for the worse when, after we were asked to be completely silent, one of the ghost hunters intoned that he thought he had heard something - and it was likely that the spirit world was trying to communicate.
At this point I was left wondering why the spirit world would want to communicate with us mere mortals using noises that sounded exactly like someone’s tummy rumbling. (Especially as I was pretty sure it was my tummy. I’d missed dinner to do the trip.)
So, you can count me as sceptical. Except, except, I’ve been thinking about my other odd experience...
The crofters who weren't there
I was once driving back to my home, then in a rural part of the north of Scotland. It had been a long journey back and I was tired and keen to reach my destination.
I passed an old croft or farm-worker’s cottage by the side of the road. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a couple standing in the little field at the gable end of the croft.
He was broadcasting in the original sense of the word: throwing seed from a tray looped round his neck. She had a long skirt and bonnet. I thought it odd, as they both looked so old fashioned.
A few days later I passed by once again in the car, looked again, and was amazed to see the field was neglected, green with pasture and weeds and obviously uncultivated. I’m not even sure the croft was occupied.
So what had I seen? Like I said, I was tired - and the couple did look like the sort of illustrations you see in old books about crofting. Obviously(?) I imagined something that wasn't there.
I’m sure there is a rational explanation. Only I can’t quite think of one yet.
Oh well. Enjoy your Halloween. And remember that to be authentic in Scotland you have to carve a neep lantern and not a pumpkin.
And, if you want to hear another Scottish ghost story then follow this link to Barrie's Birthplace - the creator of Peter Pan.