Duntulm Castle: Cruelty, Misery, and Tragedy Are Said To Be Behind The Ghosts Of This Castle

Duntulm Castle ruins are situated on the northern tip of the Isle of Skye, and tower over the ocean edge, inside the remaining walls, is held a dark story of death, misery, and torment that has led to the stories of the ghosts that still remain within its grounds.

Duntulm Castle Isle of Skye
Duntulm Castle is now an abandoned ruin, but the spirits that existed are still said to roam to this day

Duntulm Castle in the north of the island of Skye now stands in ruins, but its colourful history assures it of the presence of more than one ghost. One of the ghosts is said to be the reason why the castle ceased to be used for habitation in the early eighteenth century. The ghost is believed to be that of Hugh Uisden Gillespie Chleirich, who was the cousin of Donald Gorm Mor, chief of the MacDonalds of Sleat.

Donald Gorm Mor was an unpopular and brutal chief and had his fair share of enemies. Hugh was perhaps the most deadly of these enemies and had long plotted to kill Donald Gorm Mor. There are different versions of the story, so it is not clear exactly how this happened, but Donald, having been informed of his cousin's treachery, set about getting his revenge.

He laid siege to Hugh's castle, hoping to starve him out. Hugh escaped, disguised as a woman, but he was soon captured by Donald Gorm Mor's men and taken to Duntulm. There he was locked (one version of the story tells that he was bricked up) in a dungeon. But the confinement of his enemy was not enough to satisfy Donald Gorm Mor's appetite for revenge. He saw to it that Hugh suffered cruelly for his treachery. Hugh's only means of survival in the dungeon were meagre rations of salt meat and salt fish. No water was given to him.

Needless to say, he died a slow and painful death from dehydration. His screams were said to haunt the castle continuously after his death, causing great torment to all within.

The ruins of Duntulm Castle as they are today
The ruins of Duntulm Castle as they are today

Another ghost that haunted Duntulm was that of Margaret, a ward of the previous chief, Donald Gorm. After Donald Gorm's death, she was placed, according to his dying wishes, in the care of Donald Gorm Mor until she came of age. When she came of age, she was to marry Donald Gorm Mor or enter a convent. According to one source, Margaret was hopelessly in love with Hugh and devastated by his cruel fate at the hands of Donald Gorm Mor. According to another source, Margaret was cruelly rejected by Donald Gorm Mor, principally because she only had one eye. For whatever reasons, Margaret's life was an unhappy one. She did not marry Donald Gorm Mor and eventually entered a convent, but she died soon afterwards. Her ghost returned to Duntulm and could be heard weeping around the castle for many years after her death.

Donald Gorm Mor himself is also said to haunt Duntulm in the company of two drunken friends. The three ghostly figures proved to be quite a trial for Donald Gorm Mor's successor, his nephew, Donald Gorm Mor Og.

Two more ghosts are said to have haunted the castle - those of a tiny heir and nursemaid. It is said that the baby fell from the nurse's arms out of a window high in the castle and onto the rocks below, where he died. The baby's father, enraged with pain and grief, ordered that the nurse be tied up and set adrift in a leaking boat. The cries of the baby and his nurse are still reported to be heard in the ruins of the castle and around the rocks where the poor infant met his death.

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