Ghost hunting in Ayrshire’s Haunted Places

From its crumbling castles to its storied shores, Ayrshire is a place steeped in history, folklore and legends – and home to some of Scotland’s most haunted places …

With Halloween fast approaching, we’ve taken the opportunity to delve into the shadows, uncovering spine-tingling stories of medieval massacres, sinister spectres, and unexplained occurrences around the Salt Lodge Hotel’s Ayrshire home.

Are you brave enough to explore some of Ayrshire’s – and Scotland’s – most haunted places? Join us for a wee spot of fright-seeing and don’t forget to sign up to be the first to know of our package offers!

Culzean Castle

Perched high on the Ayrshire cliffs, this beautiful castle hides tales of terrible deeds and evil spirits within. There’s no shortage of horrors in its history – the 4th Earl of Cassillis captured the abbot of Crossraguel Abbey in 1570 and roasted him alive until he agreed to sign over his lands. Likewise, Sir Archibald the Wicked of Culzean was a man so evil that the devil himself is said to have attended his funeral. There’s more to Culzean than just stories, too – a ghostly knight is said to haunt the halls, while a phantom piper can often be heard on stormy nights as the waves crash against the cliff face below…

Brodick Castle

Set beneath the towering peak of Arran’s mighty Goat Fell, on a site that once held a Viking fortress, stands Brodick Castle – home of 800 years of bloodshed, battles, and ghoulish acts. Countless people have sighted the Grey Lady, an unfortunate plague victim entombed in the castle dungeons and left to die, while an ethereal White Stag walks the castle grounds whenever a chief of the Hamiltons – the castle’s historic owners – is close to death. One of Ayrshire’s most haunted castles, this is a place to send shivers up your spine!

Bennane Cave (AKA Sawney Bean’s Cave)

The story of Sawney Bean and his family of cannibals and murderers has been told to spook Scotland’s children for hundreds of years – but many believe that the story is more than just myth… Alexander “Sawney” Bean led an incestuous 48-member clan that was responsible for murdering and eating more than 1,000 people in the 15th century. The clan would leave the cave at night and bring individuals or small groups back to their home. There, the unlucky victims would be dismembered and eaten. Residents of nearby towns reportedly found body parts would occasionally wash up on shore. Eventually, the clan members were captured and, due to the horrors of their crimes, executed without trial. Some say Sawney’s ghost still haunts the deep dark of the cave, where the spine-tingling sound of teeth on bone can be heard in the shadows…

(c) Mary and Angus Hogg

Machrie Moor

When the first settlers arrived in Scotland over 10,000 years ago, it’s thought that they erected large, imposing standing stones. The colossal and eerie structures predate Stonehenge and have entranced visitors and baffled archaeologists for centuries. On the Isle of Arran, it’s said that a group of fairies once sat atop the mountain, Durra-na-each, and passed the time by flicking pebbles onto the moor below. The pebbles became large stones and formed the six stone circles of Machrie Moor. Whatever their origins, walking amongst the stones as the sun slinks below the horizon is a spine-tingling experience.

(c) VisitScotland

Dundonald Castle

A brute mass of masonry perched on a hilltop overlooking the Firth of Clyde, the once-mighty 14th century castle of Robert II sits on the ruins of fortresses dating all the way back to the Iron Age. Take a walk amongst the colossal, crumbling ruins of Dundonald and it’s hard not to feel dread creep up your spine. This is a place of ancient rituals, half-forgotten folklore and restless spirits. Do you dare to explore its haunted ruins?

Ardrossan Castle

If you’re feeling brave, pay a visit to Ardrossan Castle and you may just meet one of Scotland’s most famous figures – a good seven hundred years after his untimely execution in 1305. None other than William Wallace’s ghost is said to haunt the ruins of Ardrossan on stormy nights. The castle was the infamous site of the bloodbath of Wallace’s Larder, where the knight slaughtered the English garrison and disposed of their bodies in the castle’s dungeon…

(c) Wikimedia Commons

Other adventures

Looking for a few less fearsome adventures to undertake on your next trip to Ayrshire? Check out our guides to the incredible walking and cycling routes, fantastic food and drink and beautiful beaches on the doorstep of the Salt Lodge Hotel in Troon!