by Richard ‘Ghost-whisperer’ Mackenzie
If it is true that building work stirs up the restless souls of the dead then the Castle and Museum of the Black Watch must be a hive of ghostly activity. By day the empty rooms and desolate halls of this former home ring with the tread of workmen, but at night what sounds would break the stillness? What psychic echoes might one hear if one was to brave the dark here? With Halloween upon us, and the veil between this world and next growing thin, our minds naturally turn towards the legends of this site, and in particular the Ghost of Balhousie Castle.
Though no one can say who she is, or why she walks, the spirit of a woman clad in white is said to haunt the upper floors of the Castle. Is she the ghost of a nun, dating from the time when Balhousie was briefly a nunnery? Or does she date back to an earlier, more violent time in the Castle’s history; perhaps a murdered bride, murderer, or other wronged soul. With evidence of occupation of the site where Balhousie Castle now stands dating back to the twelfth century, and the castle itself at least four hundred years old, many dark deeds must have been committed, enough indeed for a host of spirits.
Now used as store rooms for the growing collection of The Black Watch Museum, the upper floors of the Castle can be a chilly and foreboding place. Sudden cold draughts which stir up artefacts, feelings of being watched, and a sense of unease are just some of the happenings that are commonly experienced by both staff and volunteers. A recent staff member, now sadly moved on, was adamant that she heard footsteps whilst working alone up in the main store room, and as this author can confirm the lights in some of the rooms have a nasty habit of turning themselves off.
Now, to the rationally minded, all of these experiences can be explained away. Old houses creak and moan as they settle, especially during periods of damp. Working alone can play tricks with your mind, and the sense of being watched can be put down to the ever present, and slightly scary, museum staff. But Halloween is a time for the rational to be rested, and the imagination to take flight. What is a creaky floorboard but the footstep of a lost soul, that cold draught on your neck the ghostly breath of a murder victim, and that sense of being watched, the dead eyes of a former owner demanding to know why you are in their house. So you will excuse me, viewers, if I work these next two days with a slight tremor to my fingers, and my phone nearby, but then if I do see our wandering phantom, who am I gonna call?