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Fyvie Castle: A curse?


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#1    Althalus

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Posted 07 October 2003 - 11:49 AM

Alexander Forbes-Leith bought Fyvie Castle in 1889. With it, he acquired bith a curse, and perhaps, the only ghost ever to have signed its name in stone for later generations to see.

The castle, which stands some 30 miles north-west of Aberdeen, has been described as the 'crowning glory of Scottish baronial architechture'. Its foundations were laid before the Noran conquest in 1066 and, since the 14th Century it has been held only by 5 great families.

Like many a blight on the old Scottish families, the Fyvie Curse was the work of the ubiquitous Thomas the Rhymer. Although he wasshrouded in legend and superstition, it seems certain that Thomas of Erceldounewas a real person. He was born in 1220 and is mentioned as a witness to a ded at the Abbey of Melrose in around 1240.

In his own day it was supposed that Thomas was the lover of the queen of Elfland. it was she who had given him the power of prophecy; and when he vanished it was thought that he had been carried off by her, but it is far more likely that he was killed by robbers.

Wile he was alive, his travels were well documented, but he was rarely ever welcome as his prohecies only ever told of disaster. Few lairds however dared to turn him away as they feared that even worse would fall on them.

According to James Murray, who documented the story, Fyvies walls stood open for seven years and a day, awaiting his arrival. When he arrived, 'he suddenly appeared before the fair building, accompanied by  a violent storm of wind and rain that stripped the leaves from the trees and shut the castle gates with a loud crash.'

Not surprisingly, Thomas was a biut ticke off that the castle gates should shut in his face, and he yelled this curse at the owners of the castle.

'Fyvie, Fyvie, thou's neer thirve
As lang's there's in thee stanis three
There's ane intill the oldest tower
There's ane intill the layde's bower
Theres ane intill the water-yett
And thir three stanes ye's never get.'

This was taken to mean that three stones that had been recently taken from a nearby church would act as evil omens as long as they remianed  part of the building. Only one of the stones, in the lady bower has been found and so the curse remains.

The stone stands in a wooden bowel in the charter room today.

The one in the water-yett has never been found, and the other one is built into what is now the Preston Tower.

More to come....

"We make choices everyday, some of them good, some of them bad. And - if we are strong enough - we live with the consequences."
— David Gemmell

#2    Starlyte

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Posted 07 October 2003 - 05:16 PM

QUOTE
More to come....


You've certainly peaked my curiousity.  Interesting story.  I look forward to reading more. original.gif  

The Earth has music for those who listen." - Shakespeare

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#3    Althalus

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Posted 08 October 2003 - 10:53 AM

Although Thomas the Rhymer was far from specific, the actual nature of the curse was interpreted to mean that no heir would ever be born in the castle, and this is said to have been true since 1433. Furthermore tha castle would never pass from a father to his eldest son. This claim has held good. Indeed, among the Forbes-Leith family, the last private owners of the castle, no first-born survived to inherit it. Perhaps none ever will; since 1984 Fyvie Castle has been in the hands of the National Trust for Scotland.

But there is another mystery surrounding Fyvie Castle. it, too, concerns a stone, and one that is situated immediatly above the charter room. It forms a window-sill three storeys up the sheer face of the castle wall. The puzzle, which dates from the night of 27th October 1601, has so far defied any rational explanation. At that time the Laird was Alexander Seton, Lord Fyvie, afterwards first Earl of Dumfermline.

In 1592, Seton married Dame Lilias (or Lilies) Drummond, daughter of Lord Patrick Drummond another peer connected with the ruling house of Stuart. Dame Lilias was a handsome, happy woman, and for nine years she and her husband were contented with each other. In that time, she bore five daughters, five of whom survived to marry influential noblemen. however, Lilias was not as strong as her appearance suggested; and on 8th May 1601, she died at her husband's house in Fife, where she was buried.

Dame Lilias was not quite 30 when she died. According to the historical record, Seton seems to have mourned her death, and the fact that he remianed on good terms with his brother-in-law bears this out. Tradition, on the other hand, asserts something different.

More to come....

"We make choices everyday, some of them good, some of them bad. And - if we are strong enough - we live with the consequences."
— David Gemmell

#4    Althalus

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Posted 08 October 2003 - 11:57 AM

Tired of waiting for a son and heir that never came, Seton had begun an affair with the Lady Grizel Leslie, daughter of the Master of Rothes, whose home was 20 miles away from Fyvie. Because of this, legend has it Dame Lilias died of a broken heart.

Although history and hearsay would appear to part company in the accounts of Seton's behaviour after his wifes death, there can be no doubt that he lost little time in wooing Lady Grizel Leslie, as they were married six months later.

On thenight of the 27th October, they retired to their temporary bedchambe, a small room at the top of a spiral staircase in the older part of the castle, as their new quarters - in the now Seton Tower - were not yet finished.

That nigt, they both heard heavy sighs coming from outside their room; but even though Seton went out to investigate and roused a servant, no intruder was found. With the dawn, however, they discovered a startling indication of the intruders identity. Carved upside down on the wondow-sill, was the name D. LILIES DRUMMOND, i neat 3 inch high letters.

The carving still clear and unworn, is over 50 feet from the ground in the old defensive wall of the castle, which had been built deliberately without any footholds.

Various suggestions have been put forward ever since as to the origin for the carving; but none seems tenable. the precision  of the work and the perfection of the lettering show that, however it was done, it took great skill, so that any hoax on the part of Seton or any of his ordinary household can probably be ruled out.

Besides why would the Laird do something like this to so clearly terrify the young woman whom he was in love with?. And if he or someone else in the castle did it, why write it upsode down?

More to come....

"We make choices everyday, some of them good, some of them bad. And - if we are strong enough - we live with the consequences."
— David Gemmell

#5    Starlyte

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Posted 08 October 2003 - 02:51 PM

QUOTE
More to come....


Patiently waiting... original.gif  

The Earth has music for those who listen." - Shakespeare

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#6    Lionel

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 11:44 AM

QUOTE (Althalus @ Oct 8 2003, 05:27 PM)
The carving still clear and unworn, is over 50 feet from the ground in the old defensive wall of the castle, which had been built deliberately without any footholds.

Do you have any pictures of the carving ? I searched the net, but did not find any pictures of the carving, all I found was pictures of the castle.

He who walks in another's tracks leaves no footprints. Joan Brannon

#7    Althalus

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 05:28 PM

Lionel, yep I have a picture of the carving, I'll post it soon as I scan it.

Seton was the architect of Fyvie as it stands today, and work is known to have been underway at the time of his second marriage. It has been suggested that one of his masons inscribed the name out of respect for the dead mistress. But again, why do it upside down on a window-sill and where it could be seen only from the interior of the room?  The room was not in general use; in fact, it was far from the sumptuous new apartments Seton was then building, and was chosen at the very last moment. To reach the window-sill it would have been necessary to erect scaffolding - a lenghty process. The mason would then have had to climb the the scaffolding and noisily hammer  out the deeply incised lettering. Yet, all the newlywed couple heard were 'deep sighs'.


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"We make choices everyday, some of them good, some of them bad. And - if we are strong enough - we live with the consequences."
— David Gemmell

#8    Althalus

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 05:40 PM

Whether natural or supernatural, the mysterious topsy-turvy writing marked the beginning of the haunting of the staircase, and the corridors leading from it, by a luminous 'Greene Ladye', as 17th century documents call her. naturally, it was presumed it was Dame Lilias, althoug a portrait thaat hangs in the castle dated to 1676, and reputedly that of the ghost, bears only a slight resemblance to Seton's first wife.

More to Come......

"We make choices everyday, some of them good, some of them bad. And - if we are strong enough - we live with the consequences."
— David Gemmell

#9    Althalus

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 07:37 PM

It is clad in a blue-green dress, and a faint iridescence seems to radiate from the enigmatic features.

The green lady and her nocturnal ramblings up and down the great wheel staircase were periodically documented over the years; and each account tells of the greenish-glow that surrounded her. Sometimes, however, she was seen simply as a flicker of light at the far end of the corridor. Colonel Cosmo Gordon, fifth Laird of Gordon of Fyvie, who had the castle from 1847 to 1879, recorded that, on one occasion, he was shaken out of bed by unseen hands; while on another night, a wind arose inside the castle - when all outiside was quiet - and blew the bedclothes off him and various guests.

The Gordons came to Fyvie in 1733, and the aparition was seen so many times that they came to adopt the green lady as their own, believing that her existence was personal to them. One story told by Colonel Cosmo Gordon seems to bear this out. A lady and her maid, named Thompson, happened to be staying for the weekend. At breakfast one morning, the visitor remarked that her maid had seen a lady she did not know going up the principle staircase.

'It must have been the green lady,' said the Colonel, 'though she only appears to a Gordon.'
'Oh,' exclaimed the visitor, 'I always call my maids "Thompson" as a matter of course. Her real name is Gordon!'

Just before he died, Cosmo Gordon saw a figure beckoning him from the shadows of a room, and took the apparition to be an impending omen of his death. A few days later, his younger brother saw the green lady walking towards him in the gloomy December light that shone through the inscribed widow. As she reached him she curtseyed. The following morning Cosmo died.

During WW1, a Canadian army officer left an account of his brush with the paranormal at Fyvie.

A mining engineer by profession, he was formerly a complete sceptic. 'If anyone told me before I came here that there were such things as ghosts or the paranormal, I would have looked at them as an arrant fool,' he said.

On the first night of his stay the officer retired for the night, and fell asleep. Some time later he woke up to find the light on, or so he thought, and got up to switch it off.  He got up and reached out to put the light off, but instead found that he turned it on, he switched it off, and found that the light remained, apparently coming from some other source, as he watched it got brighter and brighter.  He described it as being like little flames playing around the pictures hanging in the room, bright enough to see the colours distinctly.

The same phenomenon occured every night until he left and although he saw no apparition, he felt as if there was somerthing in the room with him.

Lord Leith of Fyvie, who bought the castle in 1889 and died in 1925, had not only seen the same phenomenon, but also had it scientifically investigated. he also had the only known 'weeping stone' examined.

The latter proved to be a form of pourous sandstone, which absorbed and exuded mouisture by natural processes; but no scientific explanation could be found for the carving on the window-sill, or the green lady and her luminescence.

Since Lord Leith's death, the green lady has only been glimsped by a handful of visitors, but the carving is there to be seen by anyone.

"We make choices everyday, some of them good, some of them bad. And - if we are strong enough - we live with the consequences."
— David Gemmell

#10    Lionel

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Posted 10 October 2003 - 04:01 AM

Thanks for the picture Al. This is a very interesting story. I was searching the net for information on the Fyvie Castle and I read somewhere (I don’t remember where) that this castle is now converted into a hotel. Is that true?

He who walks in another's tracks leaves no footprints. Joan Brannon




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