It's funny how you can sometime overlook the military history that's right under your nose. Scarborough Castle's annual ghost walk rectifies that...

British Heritage Blindness

I often here people (locals) bemoaning our little seaside town by saying that there's 'nothing to do here'. Yet, a sizable proportion of our headland is taken up with a CASTLE!

OK, so castle aren't everybody's 'thing', but it still amazes me just how blasé some people are about the wonderful history that surrounds us, the British are just spoilt I suppose. Scarborians are typical of this 'heritage blindness', as they are more apt to be interested in the lack of a particular branded store than they are in the rich beauty of our town's history. (I'll put the brakes on a full rant right HERE.)

Ghosts of Our Past

Like some gothic phantom, Scarborough Castle looms silently over us and yet is oft time invisible to the townsfolk, despite the fact it does take up such a great honking bit of space!

The family and I were drawn to the castle this weekend past as they hosted their annual 'ghost walk', opening their gates later in the evening for a dark and spooky tour of the grounds. Wrapped up warm - it's quite blowy on the exposed prominently - and armed with torches we were conducted on an hours meander around the principal points of interest of the castle -ruin and were treated to some ghostly tales of the castle's past.

When Fact is More Creepier than Fiction

OK, this was all a bit of family fun and wasn't really all that scary (suitable for kids), it mainly consisted of our costumed host hammily acting his was through some re-telling's of some of the most notable ghastly residents' tales. As might be expected there was the ubiquitous 'lady in black' and a headless ghost...All good fun!

But, for me, the creepiest tale was actually just a footnote that our 'dungeon master's' tale about the castle's keep. The ghost story itself wasn't all that memorable - except for it being a little comical - but it was an almost throw-away line in his commentary that sent tingles down my spine...

As a Scotsman it was with some horror that I learned that the castle's dungeon was at one time host to Scottish prisoners brought back from one of Edward I's (1239 –1307) incursions into my homeland. It really was a unsettling feeling for me to know that beneath my very feet - albeit all those centuries ago - fellow Scots were imprisoned in those dark and cramped underground chambers.

Whatever happened to these Scots wasn't mentioned as they were a simple footnote in the castle's history and I can only hope that they eventually found their way home. But being the one Scot among an audience of English made the experience all that more chilling as occasionally - even in these modern times - I do still feel myself to be a stranger in a foreign land!



Link: English Heritage - Scarborough Castle

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