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Visit Ashintully Castle

Phantom tinker and hunchback

Ashintully, near Kirkmichael in North Perthshire, is the home of the Spalding family who originally took up residence in the late 16th century when Andrew Spalding married into the Wemyss family who owned the land round about. Andrew was not at all popular with his neighbours, for in 1587 a gang of them, thirty in all, descended on Ashintully and kept him prisoner. Whatever he had done to bring their fury on his head must have been serious in their eyes for Andrew was subjected to humiliation and torture. On his release he appealed to the king who declared the aggressors rebels, and pardon was withheld until 1598. Gratitude for the king's support was sadly lacking however, for Andrew's successor David was deeply involved in the Gowrie Conspiracy, supporting the Ruthvens.

The castle can boast of three ghosts. Green Jean" was really tempting fate one evening when she decided to don a green dress, for green is unlucky for humans, they say, being the fairy colour. But as owner of the castle Jean was used to having her own way, much to the resentment of her uncle who didn't believe in women inheriting property. That night he decided to get rid of her. He entered the bedroom where her maid was dressing her hair. Of course he had to dispose of the witness too! The maid's body was stuffed up the bedroom chimney and Jean, her throat cut, was dragged away to be buried. But she refused to remain at rest, and, still dressed in her green gown, is often seen wandering around the family burial ground, or in the castle corridors.

The other two ghosts are men seeking vengeance. "Crooked Davie" was a hunchback employed as a messenger by the family, not out of charity, but because he was noted in the district for being fleet of foot. On one particular day a great banquet was planned, and as the servants usually ate well from the left-overs and enjoyed festivities of their own "down-stairs", Davy was determined to be there, for he was courting one of the maids. Even when his master despatched him to Edinburgh with a message Davy was not all that much dismayed for he knew he could be there and back on time if he made an extra special effort. He had never run faster, but when he arrived back at Ashintully he was exhausted. As he waited before the fire in the hall for his master, he fell asleep. Spalding, coming past and seeing him, immediately jumped to the conclusion he had been disobeyed.

Without giving Davy a chance to explain he slew him . . . and only after his death did Spalding find the papers sticking out of Davie's pocket were the ANSWER to his message. Davie's companion in haunting the grounds of Ashintully is the ghost of a tinker hanged for trespassing. Before he was hanged the tinker (said to be a Robertson) put a curse on the family, and he still wanders the grounds with Davy, shrieking out his curse.

If you would like to visit this area as part of a highly personalized small group tour of my native Scotland please e-mail me:

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