As Halloween approaches, Tele features writer Amy Hall headed out to the area’s spookiest sites to see if she could find out what really goes bump in the night – today she finds out just how haunted Mains Castle really is.
It’s easy to imagine spirits skulking about in the darkest corners of Mains Castle. The eerie but beautiful castle, located in Dundee’s Caird Park, is believed to have been built in the 16th Century by Sir David Graham.
The castle was the long-term home of the Grahams of Fintry and remained in their hands until the 19th Century, when Robert Graham of Fintry sold the lands to David Erskine – with the condition that his family could retain the territorial title of Graham of Fintry.
The estate was later sold to Dundonian jute manufacturer, entrepreneur and philanthropist, Sir James Key Caird, who gifted the castle and its lands to the council as a site for a public park in 1913.
Lots of other-worldly activity
The castle has become a hotbed, over the years, for paranormal activity with people reporting sightings of apparitions such as a young child, as well as prisoners and servants of the castle.
In fact, so popular is the site for keen ghost hunters that there are regular opportunities to participate in hosted sleepovers at the castle. Just last year, the team from Most Haunted took a trip there themselves, exploring the creepy corridors and ghoulish graveyard with keen interest.
Ally Reid, an investigator with Scottish Paranormal, said that the team had visited the castle for the first time at the start of the year and found the place to be “very, very active”.
He said: “We’d heard mixed reports about good activity. We found the place very, very active. When we walked in we weren’t sure – you always get a feeling when you go into a place and it was quite calm and quite peaceful. But the activity was very interesting.”
Things became quite creepy for Ally and the rest of the crew when they were in the castle’s middle tower room and felt an unusual presence in their midst.
He said: “In the middle room of the tower, there’s a chair. We actually had a medium with us and he picked up a gentleman – he wasn’t evil as such – who was asking us ‘what are you doing here?’ and ‘why are you in my space? That was a genuine feeling for us.”
The castle was renovated in the 1980s through a government scheme for the unemployed, as many of the buildings had become roofless, and is now used as a wedding and events venue.
So, how did Amy’s search for ghosts go?
On a cold and rainy night, earlier this month, Amy headed to Mains Castle alongside the Fife-based Scottish Paranormal team who carry out investigations around the country hoping to find evidence of spirits within a number of settings.
They brought with them a number of pieces of equipment which would aid the investigation including radio scanners, which are said to allow the spirits to talk through them, and voice activated recorders, which pick up sounds that were inaudible in the room.
There were also a number of gadgets which would flash or make a noise when touched or moved and would signal if drops in temperature were recorded.
With a high volume of recorded sightings, it is no surprise that paranormal teams from across the UK visit Mains Castle for haunting events.
Having previously investigated the site, and aware that the castle might be inhabited by the ghost of a child, the team made sure to bring along a teddy bear device which would emit flashing lights if it was touched.
When entering the castle, and knowing what I was about to do, it was hard for me not to feel apprehensive and downright scared quite frankly.
The high stone walls seemed to loom over me as I entered, however the cheery Scottish Paranormal team made me feel at ease. They have been doing this for decades; travelling the country, talking to the dead and basically doing all the things scary movies have always taught me not to do.
We set up the equipment and it was time to go. The lights were off and the session had started. Starting in the main hall using a piece of equipment called Franks Box – which gives spirits the chance to communicate through radio waves. There were numerous knocks, the sound of footsteps and an eerie feeling in the air.
After some communication we decided to head upstairs to where we thought the noises were coming from.
In this room we used a yes/no box which is said to allow spirits to answer yes or no questions by moving a small needle inside. We didn’t get much from this room however some of the guys started feeling incredibly drained and some even had sore heads. They said this is normal and occasionally spirits will use some of your energy.
Before leaving for the night there was one more room we needed to visit, the tower room. It was in here that the grumpy older man is said to have resided and the team had a special experiment for me to try.
The activity involved looking at my reflection in a blacked out mirror and inviting any spirits there to show themselves through my reflection. I was sceptical, who wouldn’t be when someone says your face is going to change in the mirror right before your eyes?
After a few minutes though things did seem to change. My nose seemed to grow, my eyes changed shape, I could see an older man just like the type you see in paintings in stately homes.
Then it all seemed to change once more and now there was a haggard looking woman in the mirror (I promise it wasn’t just me). She seemed sad and I felt some of that sadness too. It was a feeling I couldn’t explain and I know others would think is daft as I tell them this story.
I may have been sceptical but there was definitely something strange going on. After a successful investigation it was time to head home.
By now it was pitch black and after parking in the wrong area I had a little walk to get to my car. Usually I would be freaked out, worried, and would try to get there as quickly as I could.
That night though I felt calm and safe, almost as if something was watching over me. Maybe there was.
Amy also visited HMS Unicorn for a ghostly tour after hours. Click here to find out more.