Comlongon castle

Comlongon Castle
Clarencefield, Dumfries, Scotland

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The Ghost of Marion Carruthers

The Building
The building is an excellent example of a border tower house built of pink sandstone. It is fifty feet square and seventy feet high and retains many of its ancient features. Towers like these are found on both sides of the border (Dalston Hall is an English equivalent) and are a tribute to the bloody and lawless way of life that ruined this area for centuries. As well as the ‘official’ wars between England and Scotland, the Border Clans indulged in a practise known as ‘reiving’ and when you are bereaved you have been reived. Another word the Reivers introduced into the English language is ‘blackmail’ and the Border Clans lived by blackmail, kidnap, cattle rustling and murder. The wealthy would build tower houses like Comlongon (also known as Peel Towers). These were built of stone and in times of trouble the family would retreat upstairs, closing the great iron ‘yett’ or gate that stopped their lightly armed enemies in their tracks. The great stones would of the barrel vaulted chambers on the ground floor could withstand even fire so the besieged family were generally safe. 

The Ghost Story
In the mid 1500s near Comlongon Castle there lived a noble family called Carruthers. Sir Simon Carruthers had two daughters, one of whom was Marion. In those days the children of well born families married for reasons of politics and economic gain, not because of love. It was arranged that Marion Carruthers would marry the wealthy lord of Drumlangrigg – James Douglas, a man she detested. From Douglas’s point of view, Marion would bring with her a dowry of half of the land belonging to Sir Simon Carruthers. But Marion was a strong willed lass and she refused Douglas’s suit. That is until her father died fighting the English. After that Douglas applied a great deal of pressure to get her to agree to the marriage. She was sent as a ward to Borthwick Castle, but she escaped, fleeing to her uncle at Comlongon. Her uncle got legal guardianship of her in 1582. However Douglas appealed and in a case which had important consequences for Scottish Law, he maintained that he had been robbed of a wife and a dowry. Douglas won his case, and Marion climbed to the top of Comlongon Castle’s battlements and threw herself off. At least that is the official version. Further research has shown that when Douglas won the case, he swiftly dispatched soldiers to seize Marion, when she refused to come and he realized that he wasn’t going to get his dowry after all, Marion had an accident, later reported as suicide. As a suicide, the Catholic church wouldn’t let her be buried in sanctified ground like a churchyard, but with typical Scottish thoroughness, Marion was beheaded and her arms and legs severed. After that the six parts of her were buried in different places and the house built upon them. 

Modern Hauntings
But there have been modern communications with this very historical ghost. In 2001, members of staff actually left because they were unhappy about working close to the ghost. She is always seen in one particular room. During the Second World War, the castle was used as a children’s home and recently some nurses of that period came back to visit. Without prompting they identified the haunted room as the same one that had been the focus of many strange experiences in their day. Recently, a lady medium contacted the ghost of Marion Carruthers and held a lengthy chat with her. Recently some Canadian guests came down very upset with the staff. At first they thought their wallet had been stolen, but in the morning it reappeared. All the currency notes had been taken out of the wallet and put in consecutively numbered order among the pages of the book the lady had been reading.

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