Ghosts of Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle exists as the most besieged castle in Britain with 23 attacks throughout Scotland's history. It’s the Scottish equivalent to the Tower of London, which houses the country’s crown jewels, served as a prison and barracks, and protected the Royal Family during times of unrest. Considering its turbulent past over the centuries, a few resident ghosts still linger within its battle worn ramparts.

Edinburgh Castle


Several hundred years ago, a network of tunnels was discovered at the castle along the Royal Mile towards Holyrood Palace. In order to determine where they led, a piper was sent to explore them. As he walked through the tunnels, the piper played bagpipes to alert others on the surface with respect to his location. However, the bagpipes stopped approximately halfway to the palace. Soon afterward, a rescue party entered the tunnels to locate the piper but discovered he vanished without a trace. Thereafter, the tunnel was resealed. On quiet days when the noise from traffic diminishes, the faint sound of bagpipes may be heard below the Royal Mile between the castle and palace.

Similarly, the sounds of a drum are occasionally heard by visitors although its ghost has not been seen for centuries. According to legend, sighting of the drummer represented a harbinger of attack against the castle. This last occurred in 1650, a year after Charles I was beheaded. Strange experiences around Edinburgh included sword-shaped meteors speeding across the sky, as well as spectral soldiers riding horseback over nearby hills. In one series of events, the ghostly drummer was reported by castle sentries as playing his drum along the battlements each night. More disturbing, he reportedly lacked a head, much like Charles. As a result, the governor of the castle decided to investigate the matter himself to unravel the mystery of these ghostly sightings. He never saw a ghost but heard a drum playing an old Scottish war tune, in conjunction with the sound of many feet marching to the beat. The sounds of the ghostly procession went towards and subsequently passed the governor. However, sighting of the drummer happened during the same year, 1650, Oliver Cromwell’s army was laying siege to the castle, thereby giving credence to the folklore.

Sightings of restless spirits still occur at the castle. In 2003, members of a construction crew performing restoration of the structure claimed they were harassed by ghosts of prisoners from the Napoleonic Wars. Various photos of these men working in the Queen Anne building captured what resembled hazy blue orbs floating above their heads. In some cases, persons refused to work alone.