Duffus Castle, Near Elgin, 5th December 1996
Andrew Beaton.. in his own words

"Duffus Castle is situated some four or five miles North of Elgin, in a rural location, surrounded by fields and accessed by a single track road. A small car park for visitors lies just outside the castle boundary fence. The property is in the care of Historic Scotland and may be visited free of charge at any time. There are no staff on duty at the castle and interpretative material for visitors is provided via notice boards and sign-posting. Duffus is rather an impressive ruined, stone-built castle.

The present structure, uninhabited for at least two hundred years, is primarily of 14th century origin, though a Norman style wooden motte and bailey castle occupied the site from the 1100's, when it was constructed by an Anglo-Norman settler, Freskin de Moravia, who had settled in Moray at the invitation of King David 1st. The lordship of Duffus later passed, through failure of the male line of Freskin, to the Sutherland family. It can also be noted that a son of the male Freskin line, Andrew Moray, gained fame as an associate of Sir William Wallace, dying from wounds received in the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297."

"Generally however, the history of Duffus Castle would appear to have been fairly peaceful. My researches at Elgin reference library and at Aberdeen University Library have failed to uncover any hint of bloodshed or dastardly deeds of the sort which so often appear to be associated with hauntings. I shall therefore move on to a detailed account of the incident which befell my five year old daughter, Helen, at Duffus Castle on Sunday 5th of December 1996."

"Living in Elgin and being a keen student of Scottish history, I have been a fairly regular visitor to Duffus, the castle also being popular with my two daughters, Helen and Mary (4). About 10.30hrs in the morning of December 5th, 1996, the three of us arrived at the castle for a visit - the kids love to play among the ruins. The weather was very cold and windy, but dry. Because of the weather I was in no mood to hang around, so we spent only about twenty minutes there. The kids and I, were the only visitors present the whole time we were there. I can confirm absolutely that no one else was either in or near the castle while we were there. The castle its self is not large, and there are scarcely any potential hiding places for a possible prankster, for example."

"Likewise, the elevated position of the ruin with regard to the surrounding countryside makes it possible to clearly view the surrounding area for some miles. There was simply no one else around!"

"Anyway, after about ten minutes, I found myself standing at the flat grassy area which constitutes the castle bailey, (i.e.. yard area.) I was standing looking in the direction of the castle keep, I must have been about 120 metres away from it. My two daughters were playing at the foot of the motte, (mound on which the castle keep stands.) about 100 metres from me.

My eldest daughter Helen then ran across to me and said excitedly, (I quote her exact words.) "Dad, a lady waved at me from the castle".

As I stated earlier, there was simply no other person in or near the castle and I realised pretty quickly the implication of what had been said to me. On questioning Helen, being very careful not to ask her leading questions, and not mentioning the possibility of having seen a ghost, I established that a women with a friendly face and ginger hair had waved to her from a hole in the castle wall.

I should add that I had been looking directly at the castle at this time and saw nothing, neither did my younger daughter Mary, who had been standing next to Helen."

"Well, we left the castle soon afterwards, the hair on my neck standing up! To this day, I have never mentioned to Helen that she had probably seen a ghost - in any case she thinks that a ghost looks like Casper, and not like an ordinary human. I am absolutely convinced of her sincerity.

Some research at the local library has failed to shed any possible light on the identity of the lady, though a friend who lives locally to Duffus has heard that the castle is reputedly haunted, but could give no further details."

"I hope that this account, unexciting though it is, will be of interest. I suspect that it may back-up the notion that young children, who are very reliable witnesses, can sometimes see things which adults cannot. I feel it is worth mentioning that at the precise moment when Helen saw her lady, I myself was day-dreaming, reflecting on the past history of the castle and those who had lived there.

I forgot to mention, Helen could not describe the lady's clothes, only her head was seen......

This piece is reprinted by permission of the Haunted Scotland website.