Tuesday 30 April 2019

The Green Lady of Crathes

Lario Tus/Shutterstock.com
One thing you could never accuse this ghost of is being shy. She has been seen by a whole host of people, including Queen Victoria when she came to stay at Crathes Castle. She may even have been captured on camera as recently as two years ago.

The building itself is a picturesque Jacobean edifice standing on the banks of Loch Leys in Deeside, in the border county of Dumfries and Galloway. Building was started here by Alexander Burnett of Leys in 1550, and not completed until 1590 but its most famous inhabitant – known simply as the Green Lady of Crathes – seems to have been haunting the area long before the castle was constructed. According to some traditions, she may have lived in an earlier castle which stood on the same spot and whose stones were incorporated into the present structure. 

Another – and more widely held – legend states that she was either a servant girl or a ward of the Laird of the present castle, during the late 1500s. Sadly, we have no name for her and she is alleged to have disappeared shortly after giving birth. Givent he cited circumstances, we can hazard a guess as to the identity of the baby's father.

 Whatever the truth of her identity may be, this ghost manifests herself in a particular room which, for obvious reasons is known as the Green Lady’s Room, where – dressed in the green robe that gives her its name - she glides serenely across the floor until she stops by the fireplace and lifts up a baby, apparently out of thin air. She then cradles the infant in her arms. In a sinister turn of events, when renovations were carried out on the room during the 1800s, skeletal remains of a young woman and a baby were discovered under the hearthstone. 

The Green Lady never threatens or harms anyone although her sudden appearance is signalled by temperature fluctuations and some visitors have reported feeling a palpable sense of dread on entering her room. However, she has been known to appear to members of the Burnett family, and to them she represents a warning of impending death or other disaster.

In November of 2016 a photograph, taken by Bill Andrew of his family outside the castle, shows a ghostly figure in the doorway behind. Apparently, there has been something of an upsurge in paranormal activity at the castle of late.

The castle does seem to be something of a hive of supernatural activity and the Green Lady isn’t the only spectral presence. Archives record the frightening appearance of a luminous block of ice, moving as if it were a human walking. Not surprisingly these appearances go hand in hand with a sharp and dramatic drop in temperature.

A further ghost – known as the White Lady – turns up from time to time. She is thought to be Alexander Burnett’s young lover, Bertha. Burnett’s mother – Lady Agnes - deemed her unworthy of becoming her son’s wife and poisoned her.

Lady Agnes also haunts the castle and returns on the anniversary of her death.

The castle is now owned by the National Trust for Scotland, having been given to them by the Burnett family in 1951, and is a popular tourist destination. It is famed for its incredible, ornate painted ceilings and magnificent furniture, as well as possessing extensive, beautiful grounds and gardens. Certainly one to put on your list of places to visit this summer.

May all your ghostly encounters be friendly ones...


  1. Will this be the subject of an upcoming book, Cat? Would make a great Historical (Non?) Fiction. You could fill in all the blanks on the Green Lady's story. Just something to think about.
    A really great post - I want to know more. Perhaps I will have to plan a visit myself. I'd love that!

    1. Thanks, Kabrini Message. I haven't planned it as a story but you never know... Scotland has so many ghosts and haunted places it's difficult to choose. I am still working my way around Edinburgh's spooky Old Town

  2. This is so interesting, but the line about the woman and child's bones behind the hearthstone . . . oh, that's sad!

    1. Yes, it is sad, isn't it, Priscilla? And not the first time I have learned of such a discovery either.