If you’re a fan of golf, you’re probably a fan of Scotland, a region of the world with a long history, and not just as the home of golf. This history includes several tragedies and violent battles, and Scotland has no shortage of ghost stories to share. We can think of nothing more luxurious than scaring yourself silly when traveling, and ghost hunting is a great way to do that. If you’re looking for ghosts, especially around Halloween, Scotland is a wonderful place to go hunting. We won’t guarantee that these sites below are haunted, but you may feel a spirit or two when you’re visiting.
Ghosts of an uprising at Culloden Battlefield
The site of a vicious battle in 1745 between the Jacobites, loyal to Bonnie Prince Charlie, and the government troops led by the Duke of Cumberland, Culloden Battlefield is reminiscent of Gettysburg in the United States. The long and complicated history of the last Jacobite Rising and the culminating battle, plus the lasting aftermath, are explained thoroughly at the award-winning Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre, where you can also experience an immersive recreation of the fight as well as artifacts from the time. Once you’ve held a pistol or musket from the era or examined the cannons that fired between both sides, it’s hard not to feel a visceral connection to the bloody events that took place here. Perhaps the most haunting part of your visit will be a stroll through the battlefield, where memorial cairns were placed in the late 19th century to commemorate the 1,500 Scottish Highlanders who were killed in a matter of minutes by English cannons.
Hauntings and monsters at Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness
If you believe the tales of the monster named after the lake, Loch Ness has to make this list of haunted places. But the famous lake, which is the deepest in the British Isles and contains more water than all the other bodies of water in the U.K. combined, is also the site of several other haunting stories. For instance, John Cobb died on the lake in 1952 when trying to set a speed record in his boat, the Crusader, which was recovered in 2002. Urquhart Castle, which has sat on the shores of Loch Ness for a thousand years, is another spot where ghostly figures are said to appear in photographs taken of the tower after they’re developed. It was also the site of the Loch Ness Monster’s first appearance in the 6th century, when St. Columba stopped “a great sea beast” in its tracks using the sign of the cross. A boat tour is a great way to hear some of the tales of this enormous body of water and its extensive history.
Ruins and witches at Robert Burns Birthplace Museum and Auld Kirk, Alloway
Although the birthplace of Scotland’s most famous bard, Robert Burns, is not necessarily haunted, the nearby Auld Kirk (Old Church) in Alloway is rumored to be so. In fact, Burns wrote one of his most famous poems, Tam O’Shanter, using the ruined church as a setting for a gathering of witches. The graveyard outside the church is the most interesting part of the ruin, with dozens of old gravestones dating from the 16th century at least. While it may not be haunting or terrifying on a warm and sunny day, the Auld Kirk can definitely give you a ghostly scare late at night or during a thunderstorm. In fact, the museum holds a Halloween event called Alloween to see if you’re brave enough to stick around the Auld Kirk on a dark and haunted night.
Royal hauntings at Edinburgh Castle
The number one U.K. Heritage Attraction in the British Isles is also rumored to have several spirits haunting its halls, and even looking at Edinburgh Castle at night from the outside can give you a spooky feeling. The oldest part of the castle dates from the 12th century, and is the home of the Scottish Crown Jewels, which have their own storied past. The most famous ghost of the castle is the rarely-spotted Headless Drummer, who first appeared in 1650 right before an attack on the castle by Cromwell, and is said to drum only when the castle is in danger. Other ghosts that haunt the ancient castle include a black hound that wanders the cemetery, and the spirit of Janet Douglas, Lady of Glamis, who was burned at the stake for witchcraft on the castle grounds in 1537.
Spirits and religious relics at St. Andrews Cathedral
After you’ve crossed the famous Swilcan Bridge and calmed down from a bucket list round at the Old Course, you can take a stroll just down the coast line in St. Andrews to the St. Andrews Cathedral. If you’re on the hunt for ghosts, this is a delightfully haunted spot, with at least two famous ghosts wandering the ruins, neither of which is rumored to be dangerous. One is a friendly monk who has been seen on the stairs of the ruin of St Rules Tower. The other is the Lady in White, who is said to wear white gloves and float through the grounds, disappearing at the cathedral. According to legend, workers repairing the tower once broke into a sealed chamber and discovered a series of coffins, one of which was open and contained the body of a well preserved young woman wearing — you guessed it — white gloves.
Whether you believe in ghosts or not, Scottish folklore is world renowned and worth experiencing first-hand. Add ghost hunting to your next luxury trip to Scotland, and you certainly won’t be disappointed.
Ravi Coutinho is Founder and Lead Golf Travel Expert at Worldwide Golf Adventures. Worldwide Golf Adventures is a luxury golf tour operator that arranges custom golf vacations for clients around the world.