Bladnoch, near Wigtown, Wigtownshire,
Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland.
The one street in this riverside village leads to a bridge; a left turn and the road to Baldoon Mains leads to the ivy-covered ruins of Baldoon Castle. Opposite the castle ruins, a fine old gateway gives access to the Mains (which probably belonged to the castle years ago). Looking back, the castle ruins are framed between the picturesque pillars of the gate-way.
The ruins themselves, quiet and deserted and with an air of tragedy about them, are haunted by the ghost of Janet Dalrymple who walks here in the small hours, her white garments splashed with blood. In the middle of the seventeenth century Janet, the eldest daughter of Sir James Dalrymple, was forced by her parents to marry David Dunbar, heir of Sir David Dunbar of Baldoon, although she loved the practically penniless Archibald, third Lord Rutherford. Dutifully, and worn down by her parents' persistent objections to Archibald, Janet at last married David Dunbar in the kirk of Old Luce, two miles from Carsecleugh Castle, the old home of the Dalrymples. Her two brothers took her to the church and both declared later that her hands were cold as ice on that hot summer day.
There are three main versions of the events that gave rise to the haunting. In the first version the bride stabs her bridegroom in the bridal chamber and dies insane; in the second version the bridegroom stabs the bride and is found insane; and in the third version the disappointed Archibald conceals himself in the bridal chamber and escapes through the window into the garden after stabbing the bridegroom. Whatever the facts, Sir Walter Scott immortalised the story in The Bride of Lammermoor and describes how the door of the bridal chamber was broken down after hideous shrieks were heard from within and how the bridegroom was found lying across the threshold, dreadfully wounded and streaming with blood, while the bride crouched in a chimney corner, her white night-gown splashed with blood, grinning and muttering and quite insane. She never recovered and died shortly afterwards, on September 12th, 1669.
Dunbar is said to have recovered from his wounds but refused to discuss the events of his bridal night. In due course he married a daughter of the seventh Earl of Eglinton and eventually died from a fall from his horse in 1682. Archibald, Janet's true lover, never married and died in 1685. A macabre touch is added to the story by local tradition that it was the Devil who nearly killed Dunbar and who tormented poor Janet until she was demented. Whatever the events of the night, they seem to have left their mark here forever and there are some who claim to have seen the sad and awesome ghost of Janet wandering pathetically among the quiet ruins, most often on the anniversary of her death.
Extract from Gazetteer of Scottish and Irish Ghosts
by Peter Underwood, Souvenir Press, 1973, isbn 0 285 62089 4
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