Braemar Castle, Royal Deeside, Scotland
In 1628, the first tower of Braemar Castle was erected by John Erskine, 18th Earl of Mar and was used as a hunting lodge. Later, it was used as protection from the Farquharson Clan. In 1689, the castle was attacked and burned by John Farquharson, the Black Colonel of Inverey. In 1715, the castle was turned over to the Crown following the Earl of Mar’s leadership of the Jacobite Uprising. The castle and the land was then purchased by John Farquharson, 9th Laird of Invercauld, but it was left empty until 1748. The government then leased it to serve as a garrison for Hanoverian troops.
In 1831, the military moved out and the castle was returned to the Farquharsons. Queen Victoria would stay there when she attended the Braemar Highland Games, and John Louis Stephenson is reported to have written Treasure Island while staying at Braemar Castle.
There are many legends and ghost stories associated with this castle. Sightings of a young woman have been reported. According to legend, she was honeymooning in the castle and woke to find her new husband gone. She believed he had abandoned her and committed suicide. Her spirit usually appears to newlyweds.
A clashing of steel can be heard on the staircase and a piper has been seen roaming the halls. A baby is heard crying and legends say this child was murdered in the castle.
The Black Colonel of Inverey has been seen around the castle. An outline of a body appears on one of the beds and it is believed to be John Farquharson. The smell of tobacco lingers in many of the rooms.
I am particularly interested in Braemar Castle because of the experience I had there. My mother and grandmother came to Scotland to visit while I was stationed there with the Navy. We took a trip to the Highlands and Braemar was one of our stops. The inside was historically furnished with wonderful antiques. We listened to the stories the guide was telling us. We came to the room where we were told that they straightened the bed every night before closing, but every morning there would be a head print on the pillow. We were not sure the guide didn’t make the print every morning himself for effect, but my mother and I were startled when something unseen walked in between us, leaving our cheeks numb and cold. It wasn’t a comfortable experience and the sensation didn’t leave us until we were out in the sunlight once again.