Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Cardinal Beaton's Ghost and Other Castle Ghosts

The last resident Abbot of Arbroath Abbey was Cardinal David Beaton, who came to Arbroath in 1524.  Beaton installed himself and his mistress Marion Ogilvy (daughter of the first Lord Ogilvy) at Ethie Castle, at Inverkeilor,east of Arbroath.  It was long said that Beaton's ghost later haunted Ethie.  The sound of footsteps and a dragging leg have been heard on stairs leading to the first floor during the night.  The sounds began and ended in the room which David Beaton once ended.  The dragging leg is explained by the fact that the cardinal suffered from gout in his later years.

   One old housekeeper at Ethie Castle was so alarmed by these noises that use used to barricade herself in her bedroom each night.  The ghost was less often seen than heard, but there were occasional sightings of him near the secret passage in the Cardinal's Chamber, where a contemporary portrait of him hangs.

   Ethie also had a modest selection of other ghosts. When the Carnegie Earls of Northesk occupied the house from the 17th century until 1929, a Green Lady appeared whenever there was due to be a death in the family.  A new governess was once given  a room in the long unoccupied ancient part of the castle.  There was a closed up attic above her room, from which she heard odd sounds emanating several nights in succession.  First she heard a sobbing child, then footsteps and something with wheels being pushed across a bare floor.  The attic was reopened, and inside was found the skeleton of a child and the remains of a toy cart.  After the bones were buried the disturbance ceased.
   Ethie Castle is now the property of the Earl of Wigtoun and its grounds can be hired for weddings and other functions (http://www.ethiecastle.com/).

   Beaton was brutally murdered by protestant insurgents in St Andrews Castle on 29 May 1546.  After his death Marion Ogilvy returned to Ethie for a short time, then removed to Melgund Castle after Ethie was attacked by Lord Gray.  Marion is also reputed to haunt Ethie, but her spirit is benevolent. Her ghost is also seen at Claypotts Castle, Broughty Ferry, punctually every year on the anniversary of her lover's death.  The figure waves a handkerchief in an upper window and wrings her hands in despair.  The theory is that Marion is trying to signal her lover across in Fife.  Yet it is doubtful whether St Andrews can be clearly seen from here,  Nor do Marion nor Beaton have any clear historical connection with this castle.

   Ruined Vayne Castle, standing on the lonely north bank of the Noran Water, was once reputedly the home of Cardinal Beaton.  A pool in the Noran is called Tammy's Cradle (or Tammy's Pot).  Both the pool and the castle are named after a tragedy. The New Statistical Account for Fern parish in the 19th century tells the tale:

                    In a deep pool of the Noran Water, near Vayne Castle, a son of an ancient
                    proprietor is popularly believed to have drowned.  The place is called
                    Tammy's Cradle, and the name of the estate is ascribed to an exclamation
                    of the father of the child upon the accident being reported to him; he cried
                    'It's a' vain!'

   In fact, it was Beaton's daughter Elizabeth who married the owner of Vayne, Alexander Lindsay, and one of their sons was named Thomas.  The castle later passed to the Earls of Southesk.  The ruins of Vayne are rumoured to conceal a buried hoard of Lindsay treasure.  (The monks of Arbroath Abbey are also rumoured to have hidden treasure within the walls of Ethie Castle.)  A fortune seeker actually penetrated the subterranean chamber at Vayne where the valuables were hidden.  But just as he was about to fill his pockets a monster resembling a huge bull threw his back and belched flames at him.  It rent open the castle wall and vanished under the ground.  No one has ever had the courage to seek the treasure again.  Much the same tale is told at Melgund Castle.

Cardinal David Beaton

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