Thursday, October 14, 2010


   Ancient or just simply old castles are some of the most interesting man-made places on Earth.  They are often grand structures that are rich in history, but sometimes their history is dark and violent.  This causes some people to look at these great historical sites in a different light.  You can almost guarantee that if a person has been tortured, killed, or died of old age in a castle, that someone will claim it is haunted.
   European castles have been the home to ruling monarchs, both bad and good.  They have seen the hardship, pain, tragedy and triumph of mankind.  They have also served as prisons and torture chambers and in some instances, even tombs.
   Many believe this is why castles are so closely associated with ghosts and haunting's.  With so much agony being born within, it makes sense that some of that might permeate into the very structure itself. 

Tower of London

  Perhaps no castle known to man holds the possibility of ghostly apparitions than that of the Tower of London.  It was there that many of Henry VIII's wives awaited their execution along with the likes of Sir Thomas More.  Many of England's most famous figures-Princes Elizabeth, Sir Thomas Beckett, Sir Walter Raleigh and Guy Fawkes-were imprisoned there.
   Prisoners were tortured relentlessly, beaten, stretched and nearly drowned.  Others were eventually beheaded, drawn and quartered, hung or impaled.
   The figure of Anne Boleyn is but one of the many tower inhabitants that supposedly resurfaces to make her presence known from time to time.  But she is not alone.  Others that suffered the king's wrath such as the Countess of Salisbury also linger re-enacting with precise accuracy the events that led up to their deaths.
   These ghostly apparitions have even been caught on film.  In 2003, a photographer commissioned to do a photo shoot there, reported many different incidents.  While some refused to believe him, he proved his claims with oddly blank pictures; pictures of apparitions and one of an eerie ball of light.

Windsor Castle

  Windsor Castle has been home to many rulers and still is.  Three of these rulers may still be heard and see in the castle.  The infamously cruel ruler, King Henry VIII can supposedly be heard walking about and groaning.  How people know it is he by his footsteps and groans is anyone's guess.  King Charles I was beheaded before his death.  Apparently some ghosts are given back their heads after their death because Charles has been seen with his in the library and in the canon's house at Windsor Castle.

Glamis Castle

   Glamis Castle is supposedly haunted by two ghosts.  One of these ghosts is that of the Second Lord of Glamis or the "Wicked Lord".  He is said to have been a heavy drinker, a gambler and a violent guy.  Legend has it that one night he was without a gambling opponent and so he sought to gamble with none other than the Devil.  He supposedly got his wish and was predictably relieved of his soul.  Makes you wonder why the Devil let his soul wander around a castle.
   The other ghost that haunts Glamis Castle is that of the wife of the Sixth Lord of Glamis.  She was found guilty of witchcraft and conspiracy to kill the king and was subsequently executed in 1537.  She probably wasn't really a witch.

Trifels Castle

  Germany's Trifels Castle causes many visitors to wonder if its most famous resident, Richard the Lionheart, left a piece of himself there during his imprisonment following the crusades.  While there is no proof the castle is actually haunted, many people have reported discomfort or tenseness while inside the structure. 

Eltz Castle

  Eltz Castle in Germany supposedly houses the ghosts of medieval knights.  Some say that Mad Ludwig still haunts his German castles. 

Ballygally Castle

 In Ballygally Castle, it is said that Lady Isobel Shaw remains behind to torment the structure's annual visitors. 

Kinnitty Castle

  Kinnitty Castle in County Kildare is believed to carry the spirits of dead Druids who refuse to leave the only home they knew.

Leap Castle

  Leap Castle was home of the O'Carroll Clan, it was the battle for power among the patriarch's two sons that eventually led to the castle's outrageous history.  One day, while mass was being said in the castle chapel, one of the brothers rushed in and slew the other while he worshipped at the altar.  After that, the Bloody Chapel was born and became home to more than 400 years of tragedy.
   In the 1800's renovation of the castle uncovered something of which no one was previously aware.  Hidden behind the altar of worship was a hidden room with a trap door.  When construction workers opened the door they discovered it fell several feet to a bed of spikes.
   It seems that the O'Carrolls used the room to rid themselves of their enemies or anyone else who angered them.  Most people died upon impact.  Those who did not; however, eventually died of blood loss or starvation.  Three carts of bones were removed from the room. 

Charleville Castle

Charleville  Castle is located in Northern Ireland and it has been verified that paranormal activity has taken place in the early morning hours.  It has been said that the ghost of the former owner haunts the grounds every night.  In addition, the ghost of a little girl who fell to her death from a high staircase.  The girl is said to be about 6 years old and walks the corridors crying and asking for help.

Ardgillan Castle

  Ardgillan Castle is located 20 miles north of Dublin on the coast between Balbriggan and Skerries.  The castle was built in 1737 and Robert Taylor was the original owner.  A woman dressed in white is said to haunt the library and maids quarters.  The woman doesn't speak but seems to wander about as if she is looking for something.

Killua Castle

Killua Castle Clonmellon is located in Northern Ireland. The castle is said to be haunted by Jacky Dalton, a land steward from the 18th century who swindled his master out of money, silver and gold coins.  Dalton was eventually put to death for his crime of theft in the 18th century.  It is believed that Dalton's restless spirit haunts the property.  In addition, voices have been heard and doors appear to open and close by themselves.

Clonony Castle

  Clonony Castle is located on Shannon Harbor and was built i the 16th century.  A man has been seen in a hazy light standing at the top of the tower dressed in peasant type clothing.  Locals are not sure as to why a spirit seems to be making its presence known.  No story really exists concerning any tragic events taking place at this location.

Edinburgh Castle

   Edinburgh Castle also fails to escape its bloody history.  An unusual amount of violent deaths took place there over the centuries, leading some to believe the castle could never be free of its ghostly visitors.  Others believe it goes back to the fact that the castle was built on top of a once active volcano that claimed the lives of thousands of people.  Still others say it has to do with the plague known as the Black Death, which claimed untold lives.
   Rather than remove the bodies, new structures were simply built on top of them; a new city covering the old but unable to erase its horrendous past.  Uncovered in the early 90's, the subterranean city is believed to be home of hundreds of apparitions who simply cannot rest.




   Issobell Gowdie was one of the witches of Auldearne coven that was tried in Moyashire, Scotland, in 1662.  Gowdie became well-known partly because of her detailed testimony and partly because it was apparently freely given, without torture.  However, as Cameron states, preliminary torture-which could consist of being deprived of food and drink, being held without sleep, and even beatings and having the legs crushed-was  commonly disregarded by the courts.
   The recorded torture was only that which was only that which was applied at a later stage, to acquire the names of accomplices.  Prior to that, the words"The prisoner confessed without torture" would be written into the records.  However, Gowdie did tell her story at least four times, between April 3 and May 27, never once deviating, contradicting herself, or changing her testimony in any way, including the recitation of numerous spells and incantations.

   Gowdie stated she had been initiated fifteen years earlier (in 1647) at Auldearne Church in Nairnshire by a man dressed in gray.  Her sponsor was a woman named Margaret Brodie.  The man in gray put his "Devil's mark" on her and gave her the nickname of Janet.  Subsequently, she met with twelve other women-a traditional coven of thirteen-on a regular basis, with sabbats occurring each quarter.  Gowdie's testimony incorporated everything one would expect to hear about the activities of witches at that time; attendant imps, wax images used to harm others, blighting crops, meeting with fairies, shape-shifting, riding to sabbats on brooms, shooting elf bolt, and feasting and drinking followed by wild orgies described in vivid detail.

   The attendant imps, or devils, were of diverse types and dressed in an assortment of colors.  Gowdie's was named Reed Reiver and dressed in black.  The use of the wax image was to destroy the male children of the Laird of Park.  One of the coven-John Taylor-provided the clay which was worked to fashion a poppet, a figure representing a male child in all details.  The witches then put the poppet in the fire until it baked hard.  Later roasting it every day, focusing on a particular part each time.
   The coven produced storms by beating wet rags against stones and chanting.  To blight a farmer's field, they dug up the body of a child from the cemetery and, after sharing parts of it with another neighboring coven, buried pieces in the farmer's compost pile, which worked against the fertility of his fields.

   To the authorities, the most disgusting part of Gowdie's statement was her detailed account of sexual rites.  Some were of ritualistic nature.  The female lead of the coven-the "Queen" or "Maiden"- was always the first to enjoy the male leader's sexual favors. 
   Some say there is no record of the outcome of the trial, nevertheless it is believed that Issobel Gowdie paid the typical penalty, along with her coven mates.  Tindall, however, states that Gowdie was hanged at the West Point of Elgin and her body was later burned and the ashes scattered.


   Now that you've chosen the perfect pumpkin, carved a flawless design into the pumpkin and made it into a Halloween jack-o-lantern, how do you keep the pumpkin fresh until Halloween?  You must keep your pumpkin hydrated, and there are several ways of doing that.  Here are some tips for keeping your jack-o-lantern just-carved fresh until Halloween.

   After you have carved the jack-o-lantern design into your pumpkin, coat the cut edges and the inside of the pumpkin with petroleum jelly.  Good old Vaseline will help seal in the moisture of the pumpkin and extend the life of your jack-o-lantern.  Vegetable oil can be used instead of Vaseline, or spray the inside of the pumpkin with hair spray.  Either of the three will seal in moisture and keep your pumpkin fresh until Halloween.

   If the cut edges of your jack-o-lantern have begun to curl, soak the pumpkin in a tub of water overnight to re-hydrate it.  After removing the pumpkin from the tub of water, allow to drain for about half an hour and then pat dry.  If you add one teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water for the pumpkin soak, it will inhibit the growth of mold in your pumpkin.  Of course this bleach and water solution will not work for a jack-o-lantern that has painted designs, or other ornamentation's, but there is another way to keep a highly decorated jack-o-lantern hydrated.

   To keep a painted or decorated jack-o-lantern hydrated, mist the pumpkin with water daily.  Cover the jack-o-lantern with a damp towel when it's not on display or place the jack-o-lantern inside a plastic trash bad and put it in your refrigerator.  Doing any or all of these things will keep your pumpkin hydrated and extend the life of your jack-o-lantern that you worked so hard to create.

   A battery operated faux candle inside your jack-o-lantern will keep the pumpkin fresh looking longer than a regular candle or tea light.  A battery operated faux candle does not produce heat, they are also safer than a candle, no flame inside your jack-o-lantern, no fire hazard.
   If you must use a candle in your jack-o-lantern, sprinkle a little nutmeg or cinnamon on the underside of the pumpkin top.  When the candle flame warms the top of the pumpkin, the nutmeg or cinnamon will release a nice fragrance.  But when using a real candle, you must diligently hydrate your pumpkin with some of the above mentions tips, or your jack-o-lantern will not survive until Halloween.