Tag Archive: Thomas the Rhymer

Skeletons in the Closet at Fyvie Castle

Whew–Better Late than Never !  Happy Spring Equinox. Here’s a nice little ghost story to help you celebrate.

 

Fyvie Castle has it all, curses, ghosts, and skeletons in the walls.

Fyvie Castle

The curse was put on the castle by non-other than Thomas the Rhymer (fl. c. 1220 – 1298) who was once stolen by elves—more likely the Sidhe, the Celtic version of fairies. But these fairies aren’t the lovable little winged sweeties you see in cartoons. In fact, a Campbell storyteller told me that you can estimate the age of a fairytale by the size of the fairies in it. Older stories tell of fairies taller than men and possessed of powers beyond reckoning—some good, some bad. In fact, the Sidhe seemed to consider humans more of a nuisance than anything. Anyway, the Sidhe who kidnapped Thomas were of the larger variety and non-too careful with their charge. They transported him to their land and by the time he got back, his hair had turned snow white but he had the gift of prophecy.

When he came to the gate of Fyvie one stormy night, the castle gates blew shut in his face—or that was the story. In fact, Thomas might not have been a very welcome guest since most of his prophecies were gloomy and dark. At any rate, he took offense and stood before the gates in the storm, bringing this curse upon the castle:

Wheel Stair

Staircase at Fyvie Castle antique engraved print by Robert William www.heatons-of-tisbury.co.uk

“Fyvie, Fyvie thou’se never thrive,

lang’s there’s in thee stanes three :

There’s ane intill the highest tower,

There’s ane intill the ladye’s bower,

There’s ane aneath the water-yett,

And thir three stanes ye’se never get.”

So what we have here is a curse revolving around three stones hidden within the castle. Until all three stones are recovered, the owners of the castle will never thrive—some say this means no heir will be born within the castle or to the owners nor would any first born live to inherit the castle. Reportedly, one stone was found. Called the Weeping Stone, it sometimes exudes enough water to fill the bowl in which it is kept. The other stones are still lost. The curse has carried through the centuries as the castle changed hands.

In 1592, Lord Fyvie, Alexander Seton married Dame Lilias (or Lilies) Drummond. She bore him five daughters and died before she was thirty. One story has Lord Fyvie locking Lilias in her room and starving her to death because she did not produce a son—there’s that pesky curse at work. The story goes that Seton began an affair before Lilias’ death  and remarried soon after. On the wedding night, Seton and his new bride heard moaning and sighing outside of their chamber but could not find the cause. In the morning, in letters fifty feet above the ground and on the outside of the windowsill of the Lord and new Lady’s bedroom, the name of Dame Lilias Drummond had been carved into the solid stone. The letters are still visible today. She continues to haunt the castle as the Green Lady of Fyvie Castle.

In the late 1920s, a strange growth of algae erupted on the wall of the castle gun room. The owner at the time, Lord Leith, began renovations. When workmen tore down the wall they discovered the skeleton of a woman. The remains were carefully removed, as you can imagine, and buried. But that was only the beginning.

The ghost of a lady in grey appeared so many times and startled so many people, not least of which was the Lord of the castle, that he ordered the skeleton exhumed and placed back behind the wall. The Grey Lady was appeased and ceased her hauntings.

 

Follow Sorchia’s Universe in April for Things that go Bump in the Night—the A-Z Blog Challenge.  A blog every day in April (except Sunday) about legends and creatures from a variety of cultures including Celtic and Native American.

Take a look at the March Newsletter for exciting news and Freebies.