Craigievar Castle, the Inspiration for Walt Disney’s Trademark Castle and a Ghostly Experience


Are you still looking for the ghosts and goblins of Halloween? Permit me to introduce you to Craigievar Castle in Scotland, where you might hear ‘Red’ Sir John tell of ancient feuds between the clans and the murder of a Gordon, supposedly shoved out a window of the Blue Room by Sir John Forbes.  The Blue Room, better known as the Ghost Room gives visitors brave enough to enter quite a fright. Human forms are said to move about in the shadows and doors open and close on their own. The castle also “hosts” ghostly cocktail parties, where Scottish music and voices from the past can be heard. There are apparitions of children at play, and visitors have been known to have a tug or two on a sleeve when there is no one about.  Another ghost is said to be a fiddler, drowned in a well in the kitchen, who only appears to members of the Forbes family.

Craigievar Castle is said to have inspired the Walt Disney trademark castle. Set in beautiful wooded grounds in the rolling hills of Aberdeenshire near Alford in northeast Scotland. Sporting seven stories, it is a large L-plan tower house. Turrets, gables, chimney-stacks and corbelling crown the upper storeys; in contrast to the lower storeys, which are completely plain. The corners of the building are rounded and harled and pink washed. [In Scottish and Ulster usage, harling describes an exterior building-surfacing technique which results in a long-lasting weatherproof shield for a stone building. A pigment can be embedded in the harled material, thus eliminating the need for repainting. Harling as a technique provides the surface of many Scottish castles, but it is also used for a variety of common everyday building types. Long-lasting and practical, it well suits structures in the Scottish climate.]


Component pieces of an ogee arch ~

The square tower, in the re-entrant angle, is crowned by a balustraded parapet enclosing a flat roof, with a caphouse topped by an ogee roof. [An ogee is a curve, often used in moulding, shaped somewhat like an S, consisting of two arcs that curve in opposite senses, so that the ends are parallel.} The castle stood in a small courtyard, with round towers at the corners, one of which survives.

“The entrance, in the re-entrant angle, leads to a vestibule to three vaulted chambers, and to a straight stair in the centre of the house, which rises only to the first floor. The hall, with a private chamber, occupies the first floor, and is a magnificent vaulted apartment, with mixed groin- and barrel-vaulting, and a fine plaster ceiling. A narrow stair leads down to the wine-cellar, and there is a small minstrels’ gallery. The hall has a fine large fireplace with ornamental stone carving, and there is a laird’s lug, accessed from a narrow entrance in the adjoining passageway. The floors above are occupied by many private chambers, reached by five turret stairs. Many of these rooms are paneled, and there is also good contemporary plasterwork. Items of interest include paintings by Raeburn and a collection of arms and armour.

main_craigievar_autumn_shadow_0118_a4d3b1d2372d193767395f89c3d28c77.jpg“The property belonged to the Mortimer family from 1457 or earlier, and they held it until 1610. They began the castle, but ran out of money, and it was sold to the Forbeses of Menie, who finished the building in 1626. Sir William Forbes of Craigievar, a Covenanter, was responsible for the putting down the freebooter and his band, and having them hanged in Edinburgh. He commanded a troop of horse in the Civil War, and was Sheriff of Aberdeen. Sir John Forbes of Craigievar is on record in the 1680s and 1690s. Forbes of Brux and Paton of Grandhome, who were both Jacobites, hid in the laird’s lug to avoid capture. Queen Victoria visited in 1879. Sir William Forbes inherited the title Lord Sempill, and the family became Forbes-Sempill. The castle was given to The National Trust for Scotland in 1963 by the then owner William Forbes-Sempill, 19th Laird of Craigievar, and the Forbeses of Craigievar are recorded as now living near Castle Douglas in Galloway. The tower was renovated and reharled from 2008 to 2010, and is now pink-washed.”

“In 2016 it was reported in the papers that unauthorised art nude photos had been taken in and around the castle some years earlier, with the model Rachelle Summers draped across antique 17th-century furniture’ Gabriel Forbes-Sempill, daughter of William, 19th laird, is reported in the The Scotsman (and elsewhere) as saying: ‘I am by no means a prude but I don‘t believe my parents gave the castle to the nation for this sort of thing.’ The NTS conducted an investigation and vowed that this would not happen again. A further development is that in November 2017, a legal action was raised by the photographer, claiming that the photos were authorised and that the publicty surrounding the controversy had damaged business. The case is ongoing.” (The Castles of Scotland)

Other Sources: 

National Trust of Scotland 

Undiscovered Scotland 

Vintage News 

Visit Scotland 




About Regina Jeffers

Regina Jeffers is the award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency and historical romantic suspense.
This entry was posted in architecture, British history, buildings and structures, history, legends, medieval, paranormal, real life tales, Scotland, spooky tales, suspense and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Craigievar Castle, the Inspiration for Walt Disney’s Trademark Castle and a Ghostly Experience

  1. carolcork says:

    Regina, I always thought that Ludwig II’s fairy tale castle of Neuschwanstein in Bavaria was the inspiration for Walt Disney’s trademark Cinderella Castle.

  2. Jennifer Redlarczyk says:

    Beautiful pictures. I can just imagine many stories told an experienced with the castle in mind. I might take a pass on the blue room, however. Speaking of weird. My husband was loading the dishwasher the other night while i was teaching. My student was using an amp and microphone. Ha H! Every time he sang, the dishwasher rumbled as if someone was singing inside of it. We figured they my have some common electrical hookup, but it sure was strange.

    • There is a cat in this house of mine, but we seem to get along despite the fact I am allergic to cats. He likes my dining room. We Appalachians are great believers in ghosts. I could tell you stories passed down that would make your skin crawl. LOL

  3. Craigievar is my favorite castle.

    So now you all know.

  4. Reblogged this on Sharon E. Cathcart and commented:
    Craigievar is my favorite castle. So now you all learned something about me!

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