Scotland's connection to Halloween and the supernatural has always been strong.
A nation of storytellers, we love to regale others with fantastical events from the mythical and the unbelievable to the downright terrifying and gruesome.
From monsters like the killer Kelpies to ghosts like the Green Lady of Stirling Castle and the very real tales of the murderers Burke and Hare, and the woman tragically burned as witches, Scotland's dark and horrific past is always intriguing to discover at this spookiest time of the year.
Here are some of the ghostly stories and incidents recorded (and experienced) by the staff at the National Trust for Scotland at their properties al around the country.
1. The Headless Horseman of the House of Dun
This grand Georgian house in Montrose and its surrounding estate hold many a dark secret including that of a Headless Horseman who stalks the lanes of Dun at night.
There is also the tale of the harpist murdered at the Den of Dun, where to this day on the very spot he was murdered, the ghost has been spotted playing musical laments.
2. The Green Lady of Crathes Castle
Crathes Castle in Banchory is homes to many spooky tales, including the Green Lady, named after the spirit of a young woman who has often been seen by the fireplace wearing a green dress and cradling an infant in her arms.
She even has a room named after her and when, in the 1800s, the caste was renovated he bones of a child – presumed murdered – were discovered under the hearthstone of the fireplace.
3. The Ghostly laird of Leith Hall
The Aberdeenshire home of the Leith-Hay family for nearly 400 years, this grand building is haunted by the ghost of John Leith who was shot in 1763 in a drunken brawl in Aberdeen. He was brought home but died three days later on Christmas Day.
Wearing dark green trousers and a shirt, he appears in great pain, lamenting his injuries, with a dirty white bandage wrapped around his head and covering his eyes.
4. The floating head of Killiecrankie
On 27 July 1689, the peace and tranquillity of this beautiful gorge was shattered when the first shots in the Jacobite cause were fired.
One soldier fleeing the battle made a spectacular escape by making an unbelievable jump across the River Garry at the spot now known as Soldier’s Leap.
On the anniversary of the battle, the Pass of Killiecrankie is said to ring with the sound of footsteps as the government army march to their doom, some accounts even describe terrifying encounters with a gruesome floating head.
5. Sir Archibald the Wicked of Culzean Castle
Perched high on the Ayrshire cliffs, this Robert Adam masterpiece is shrouded in tales of terrible deeds and evil spirits.
It was here that Sir Archibald the Wicked of Culzean died, a man so evil that the devil himself attended his funeral.
Finally succumbing one stormy night, his servants testified to hearing shrieks of laughter and groans of agony and fell to their knees and prayed, terrified out of their wits.
6. The Witches of Pollok House
This sprawling mansion and surrounding country park has been a favourite of Glaswegians for decades and has often been described ‘Scotland’s Downton Abbey’. But it is a property linked to Glasgow’s to one of the stranger episodes in Glasgow’s witch hunts.
A mute servant girl Janet Douglas accused five people of poisoning the laird of the estate, Sir George Maxwell.
Aided by Douglas, Maxwell, a known witch hunter, made a miraculous recovery. Four of the five were sentenced to death. The girl was then reputed to have travelled to America and was involved in the infamous Salem witch trials of 1692.
7. The Haunting of Hill House
Built in the 1900s, this Charles Rennie Mackintosh masterpiece was built for the Glasgow publisher Walter Blackie.
His spirit is still said to appear on the upper landing, dressed in a long black cape; emerging from the dressing room before vanishing into the main bedroom.
Pipe smoke is also said to be a prevalent smell in or around the library – as smoking was one of Walter’s favourite pastimes.
8. The witches of Culross
Now better known for its appearance in the hit show Outlander, this peaceful 17th-century village has a dark past.
Witches were imprisoned and tortured in the Town House; while petty criminals were branded for life with the S-shaped courtroom key (S for sinner).
You may encounter the young and elegantly dressed ghost of Mary Erskine, holding a bouquet of lavender as she admires the palace garden, which her family purchased in the early 18th century.
9. The numerous Ghosts of Alloa Tower
Scotland’s oldest keep, which has stood in Clackmannanshire for 700 years, has seen more than a few bloody episodes and as such is home to a multitude of ghosts.
The ghost of a man in chains, being helped by a serving girl, has been seen in the dungeon, while a young girl and a woman dressed in black, watching over a cradle, have been seen in the Great Hall.
A maid has also been spotted, pacing up and down in front of a painting of Alloa Tower and its adjoining mansion.
That mansion was burned to the ground in August 1800 and on the anniversary of the fire, visitors report the acrid smell of burning. They are not the only hauntings and some of the other spirits are quite terrifying, from the crying boy to ‘the armed man with strange eyes’ and a hanging man swinging from a beam in the Solar Room.
10. The Ghost of Mary Queen of Scots and Falkland Palace
Besieged by Rob Roy and partially destroyed by Cromwell’s troops, the palace has a turbulent history soaked in murder and despair.
Over the years the palace has had visits from the ghosts of Mary, Queen of Scots; the White Lady, who roams the Tapestry Gallery awaiting her lost lover; and the Grey Lady, who walks the ruins of the East Range and disappears through a wall where once there was a door.
Most chilling of all are the sinister faces that are said to appear at the window of the Queen’s Room.
11. House of the Binns
Was once home to ‘Bluidy Tam’ and, given his track record, it’s no surprise that there have been strange happenings reported since his death in 1685.
Sir Tam Dalyell was personally responsible for the death, torture and deportation of thousands of Covenanters and was said to have played cards with the devil.
His boots have been heard marching through the corridors at night and he’s also been seen galloping across the grounds on a white stallion.
12. The Bloody murder at Castle Fraser
Castle Fraser has secret staircase, hidden walls and spy holes – as well as a terrible tale of murder. A young lady was murdered in the Green Room and her bloody body dragged down the round tower.
She left such heavy bloodstains that the stone steps had to be covered in the wooden panelling. That panelling is still in place today.
Castle Fraser also has a lady in black, Lady Blanche Drummond, who died of consumption in 1874. The sound of voices, laughter and music have also been heard emanating from the Great Hall.
You can get free entry to the above locations and support the vital conservation work of the National Trust for Scotland by becoming a member here.