Ghosts and Legends of Ardvreck Castle and Calda House 

Ardvreck Castle (16th century)

The Marquis of Montrose, a Royalist who fought for Charles I against the Covenanters is said to haunt the castle. After the Battle of Carbisdale, Montrose asked for sanctuary at Ardvreck with Neil MacLeod of Assynt. At the time, Neil was absent and it is said that his wife, Christine, tricked Montrose into the castle dungeon and sent for troops of the Covenanter Government. Montrose was taken to Edinburgh, where he was executed on May 21, 1650. The specter of a man in grey clothing has been reported at the castle and is believed by many to be the tortured spirt of the executed Montrose.

Another ghost of the castle is that of a young girl. As the story goes, the MacLeods procured the help of Clootie (the Scottish name for the Devil) to build Ardvreck Castle and in return, the daughter of one of the MacLeod chieftains was betrothed to him as payment. In despair, the girl threw herself from one of the towers and died. Her spirit is said to haunt the area, especially in and around Loch Assynt, but that is another, more fantastical (and long) tale that I will save for another post.

Calda House (18th century)

The ruins of Calda House (pictured in the background) are also supposed to be haunted. One legend says that the Mackenzie family had a gathering there one Saturday and that the celebrations continued past midnight into the Sabbath. At some point a fire broke out, possibly caused by a lightning strike, and all the inhabitants perished as the house burned to the ground. The fire was attributed to an act of divine wrath as the family had been merry-making on a Sunday. Stories are told about a survivor, a piper, who was spared the flames because he refused to play the pipes past the midnight hour.

The other, more reasonable account of the fire says that amid mounting debts, the luxury loving Mackenzies were forced to put their grand house up for sale therefore struggle for control of Assynt ensued between the MacKenzie Earl of Seaforth and the Earl of Sutherland. In 1736 some MacKenzie clan supporters deliberately torched Calda House to prevent it ever being used by the Earl of Sutherland.

More sightings have been recorded around the area of the Calda ruins, including that of an unknown ghostly woman who haunts the site. Strange lights have also been seen in the ruins of the house at night, and several people have claimed that they have seen car headlights approach them on the road at night but after waiting for the vehicle to pass, no car has appeared.

(Ardvreck Castle was built in the 16th century by the MacLeod clan who gained control of the area in the 13th century. The Calda House was built much later in the 18th century by the MacKenzie clan of Assynt.)