Region : Lothian
Location : 12 miles SE of Edinburgh
Details : Built in 1430, it is a massive U-plan keep standing inside a walled courtyard with round corner towers – only one of which remains. it was once the refuge of Mary Queen of Scots and the Earl of Bothwell and later in 1650, was besieged by Cromwell. On the east wall, the damage done by Cromwell’s canons is still easy to see.
Paranormal Phenomena : An alleged haunt of Mary, Queen of Scots, who escaped from the castle disguised as a boy during her honeymoon with Lord Bothwell. The slight. boyish spectre that walks between the castle and the churchyard is always, without any evidence at all, presumed to be her ghost. The Red Room in the castle is said to be haunted.
In a new book by Musselburgh author Martin Coventry, who spent nine months researching Haunted Castles and Houses of Scotland, records that at Borthwick there is a ghost in residence – a medieval serving girl called Ann Grant. The tale is that the girl had an affair with one of the Borthwick lairds, who when it became obvious she was pregnant, had her slaughtered by slashing her across the abdomen thus killing both her and the unborn child. Ann was said to have been murdered in the Red Room. She was held between two women and then cut across the belly by a soldier with a sword and left to die.
The re-enactment of her death has since been seen by both a visitor and a former owner of the castle, though the present staff have not witnessed this. The ghost manifests by sudden drops in temperature, scratching noises, footsteps and sobbing. Unsurprisingly, she is also said to dislike men.
Wilma Martin, manager of the hotel for 15 years, says: “Guests have mentioned that doors have opened and closed on them and lights have gone on and off. I know of one guest who said she saw a lady sitting on the chair in her room. She believed it was a ghost but didn’t know the story of Ann at the time. Sometimes I think someone is standing behind me and when I turn around there is no-one there. Other members of staff have heard children playing when there are no children around.”
legend has it that a popular sport at the castle was inviting prisoners to jump the twelve foot gap between the towers with hands tied behind their backs. Those who succeeded were granted their liberty.