Tulloch Castle

Region : Ross & Cromarty
Location : Dingwall

Details : probably built around 1166, but all that remains of the original structure are the southwest corner and its tower. It was first called Tulloch in 1507 : Four chief families have been especially active in the town of Dingwall and country life. They are the Baynes, (later intermarrying with the Davidson’s), the Dingwalls, the MacKenzies, and the Munros.

Duncan Davidson, 4th laird of Tulloch, was born in 1800 and became Member of Parliament for Cromarty in 1826. He was one of the few lairds of the period to always dress in Highland garb and was a great favorite of Queen Victoria’s whom he used to drive personally on her visits north. In his capacity as Lord Lieutenant of Ross he was her representative in the area. He was known locally as “The Stag”, having had five wives who bore his eighteen children and he had at least thirty illegitimate children around the district. One of his wives was the youngest sister of his daughter in law. One of his daughters was to become the famous Green Lady of Tulloch. He is also remembered for being the subject of one of the famous predictions of the Brahan Seer – “The day will come when there will be a Laird of Tulloch who will kill five wives in succession, but the fifth will kill him.” Interestingly, Duncan died of pneumonia in Edinburgh after attending the famous Wet Review of volunteers by Queen Victoria of 1881, and was survived by his fifth wife.The last of the direct line of Davidson at Tulloch was Duncan Davidson who died in 1917. His daughter inherited Tulloch Castle and her son, Colonel Angus Vickers, of Vickers Aircraft, was the last owner of Tulloch lands before they were given to the Highland Regional Council just a few years ago. Since then the Castle served intermittently as a dormitory for Dingwall Academy before converting to its present use as a hotel.

In 1920 the castle, which was falling badly into disrepair, was completely renovated by Mr. and Mrs. Vickers. The roofline was changed and it was completely modernized. In her later years, Colonel Vickers’ mother did not live at the castle but preferred her smaller apartment at the adjoining farm complex.

Ken and Margaret MacAulay with their family Emma and Kevin purchased Tulloch Castle in August 1996, their mission statement being – To build up Tulloch Castle Hotel into an efficient and profitable business, characterizing the best of Scottish traditional hospitality and food, in a welcoming, family-run business. To preserve the history of the castle and make it accessible to local people as well as visitors.

Paranormal Phenomena : Tulloch is aleged to have a “Green Lady”. It is alleged that a portrait in the great hall is of her – believed to be a daughter of Duncan Davidson the 4th laird of Tulloch also known as “The Stag”. The officiial website discloses

All old castles should have a ghost, and Tulloch is said to have one in the shape of the “Green Lady”. Now, just how green she is, and the details of her existence, we do not know, but she has been seen over the centuries. A portrait of her hangs in the Grand Hall

The folklore asserts that this girl walked in on her father in a very compromising position with a female of the castle and fled. Unfortunately she fell down some stairs and was killed.
Recently, during renovations, excavations in the dungeon uncovered two female bodies. Who they were and how they died is not known, although folklore asserts they were two Nuns.

More recently an article in the Ross-shire Journal “Expert admits Tulloch ghost confounds science ”

Ghostly goings-on at reputedly haunted Tulloch Castle Hotel in Dingwall were this week put down to “extreme high levels of electromagnetic-induced energy” from a minor earthquake which took place in the Moray Firth. But the Dutch scientist who travelled to Dingwall to investigate the terrifying experience reported by a hotel guest admitted that one of the occurrences has left him baffled.The Ross-shire Journal reported earlier how Tommy Tan (38), who works for Vertex call centre operators in Edinburgh, stayed at the castle last month while visiting the firm’s Dingwall centre. Mr Tan was booked into Room No 8 at the historic hotel but became so petrified by unexplained occurrences during the night that he checked out the next morning saying he would never return.

Mr Tan was twice awoken in the early hours with a feeling that somebody or something was pressing down on his chest, suffocating him, a feeling which was so strong that he checked the en-suite bathroom and wardrobe for intruders. He said during the night the temperature in his room fluctuated from being cold to unbearably hot.

Mr Tan also dreamt that there was a knock at the door of his house in Edinburgh and he opened it to find two young girls, aged about six and seven and wearing black dresses with lace collars, while their mother, whom he described as wearing a black Victoriantype dress, waited at the gate.

Unable to sleep he watched TV for the rest of the night but in the morning, after relating his experiences to the duty manager, he was astonished when he was taken into the Grand Hall of the castle and shown a huge painting which depicts two little girls, aged about six and seven, with their mother in a Victorian style dress, just as in his dream. And curiously, when the manager switched on the lights of the Grand Hall, they all blew except for the light over the portrait and the emergency exit light above the fire door. When the manager tried the lights shortly after, they worked perfectly.

Scientist John W Dijkslag and his team heard of the Tulloch Castle incident and travelled to Dingwall to carry out their own investigations. Mr Dijkslag believes that the reason for Tulloch Castle being the subject of so many apparent hauntings can be explained scientifically as the site lies between two natural faultlines in the earth, the Tor Achilty fault and the Strathglass fault.

The Clan Davidson site includes the story of :

A party of 16 American clairvoyants who recently visited Tulloch Castle Hotel, in Dingwall, have assured host Ken MaCaulay, that his premises are definitely haunted! The ladies told Ken they had spent three weeks in Britain visiting historic castles and places of interest and Tulloch Castle was their last stop. They said in many places they had picked up the presence of ghosts, but in others which boasted ghosts, there were none.  But, they did say as soon as they entered Tulloch Castle they had a very positive feeling.Some time ago, Ken had found a tunnel running from the castle to Castle Street in Dingwall, but had told no one.  The clairvoyants, however, were able to tell him about this tunnel, and that he would find hidden treasures in it. “Tulloch Castle was always supposed to have treasures,” said Ken.  “Certainly I know at one time before the beginning of the century it had one of the biggest collections of paintings outside Paris, but where they all went to I don’t know.” There are two stories about why the tunnel existed.  One that it was used as a means of escape and the other for taking out or in contraband.

Only last year while excavating  in the dungeon during renovations two female bodies were found in the cellar, which had been there for many decades. Who are they and how did they die no one knows. Some say they were two Nuns but we may never know.

Although Ken has had no ghostly encounters, many of his guests and some of his staff have experienced eerie goings on. “I can’t tell you the number of people who have felt or seen the ghost, particularly the Green Lady,” he said.  “But for everyone I must say it has been a good experience, not a bad one.

The Ghostfinders team have been to Tulloch in 2004 and reported that – The toilet light in room 8 was discovered to have been switched on although they assert that it was off on their earlier visit to the room, A camcorder recorded unexplained clicks, bangs and thuds.

In the Pink Room very high EMF readings around one particular table in this room & A chair is reported to have moved without human intervention. Apart from that there were the usual non paranormal orbs spotted on camcorders and digital cameras.

Grampian TV in a series entitled Beyond Explanation in Episode 1 of which (Thursday 6th January 2005) Tullock Castle was visited –

The first spooky stop for the Beyond Explanation team is Tulloch Castle near Dingwall, which is home to a green lady who has made her presence known on a number of occasions. One of her most recent encounters is with a businessman from Edinburgh. He claims that during a stay in the castle, this apparition tried to suffocate him on two occasions throughout the night. This account is given further credence by an interview with a former night manager who explained that on many occasions throughout the course of his employment he was conscious of something behind him and it was common belief that there is a presence in the castle. For this particular creepy case the team spent time with a psychologist and a team of paranormal investigators in an attempt to find a valid explanation.

5 thoughts on “Tulloch Castle”

  1. “Recently, during renovations, excavations in the dungeon uncovered two female bodies. Who they were and how they died is not known, although folklore asserts they were two Nuns.”

    Actually, the two skeletons were a couple and they were discovered by Lord Davidson around 1830 while he was doing alterations to the dungeon. They had been immured (bricked up in a cavity and left to die). When discovered, the two skeletons were taken out onto the front lawn where they disintegrated. There’s mention of it in an article from ‘The Gentlewoman’ magazine (1898) which hangs framed beside the fireplace in the reception area.

    The tunnel only runs as far as the lawn where it has caved in. However far it went before this is unknown although it’s meant to have reached the old Dingwall Castle in town (Macbeths fathers one) . You can see part of it by lifting the trapdoor in the vestibule (under the doormat). There are rumoured to be four more around the castle but who knows?

  2. Absolutely brilliant friend, thank you for the Information, it helps expand the details surrounding the location. 🙂

    Many Thanks,

    Ryan 🙂

  3. We stayed in room 8 for three nights. I hadn’t read anything about the castle being haunted. The first night, I went down to the bar and my cousin said there were two knocks on the door and she thought it was me coming back upstairs. There was no one in the Hall when she opened the door. That morning the tv came on by itself at 4 a.m.. When I went downstairs for breakfast. I jokingly asked the lady at the desk if any of the rooms were haunted and she said yes room 8. That evening we both heard two knocks on the door as plain as day. And again the tv came on at 4 am! I asked the staff if there was a timer or alarm on it that maybe another guest had set but they said no. We unplugged the tv on the third night. I woke up at 3:40 for no good reason and waited to see if anything was going to happen but nothing did. I would not stay in that room again if I go back. It has an unsettling feel to it.

  4. Hello Kathy,

    Thank you for sharing your experience with us. It sounds like you certainly had an eventful few nights at Tulloch Castle, sounds pretty interactive too which would say that rather that being a non-sentient replay, it may in fact be a sentient energy which knew you were staying in the room and decided to make its presence known.

    Electricity interference such as TV sets coming on and lights being tampered with is a very regular occurrence in a whole host of locations with a Haunting.

    The main point is, you can not be hurt, although it can catch people of guard and change their outlook on reality slightly, I have yet to come across a case of someone being harmed in any serious way.

    Tulloch is a lovely location and maybe a different room is in order for a revisit in the future 😀

    Grateful for your experience shared and have an excellent week Kathy,

    Ryan 🙂

  5. Hello,

    My name is Nicole (Nikky) Dijkslag ,for a while now I’m looking for my father Jan Dijkslag (John W Dijkslag). I’ve searched everywhere on the Internet because he has moved a few years ago from holland to scotland and I’ve lost sight of him.
    I found his name on this site, and hope that there is someone who knows him and maybe can tell me more about him and where he lives.
    Because we miss him very much, and his three grandsons also.
    And Dad if you read this yourself, my facebook is ikkie ben nikky you can always reach me there. Love you and mis you very much,Youre little Sunshine

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