Over 600 hundred castles lie across the Welsh countryside, nestled in forest parks and even in cities. With the highest concentration of castles anywhere in the world, from the Iron Age to the Tudor era and beyond, the castles in Wales stand as witnesses to thousands of years of change, wartime, and hardship.
In these haunted castles in Wales, history lives on through the paranormal — Victorian ghosts, headless apparitions, and a slew of unexplained phenomena.
Haunted Castles in North & Mid Wales
1. Gwrych Castle, Abergele
Located in beautiful Abergele, the hillside property of Gwrych Castle stretches for 236 acres — all of them teeming with ghosts. The site dates back to the Lloyd family in medieval times, but it wasn’t until the early 1800s that the Lloyds incorporated their home into the castle that stands today.
Since then, it’s belonged to King George V and Edward VIII, housed Jewish refugees during World War II, and served as the set for ITV’s ‘I’m a Celebrity…Get me out of here!’ reality show.
Ghost sightings date as far back as 1913, when a man saw a beheaded creature in a Gwrych Castle field and another heard disembodied screeching. Despite these sightings being explained later, the castle’s reputation as a place of mystery had begun.
Common apparitions are the former owner, Winifred, Countess of Dundonald, an old grounds worker, and several antiquated staff members. The Countess’s husband, the Earl of Dundonald, supposedly manifests as a distinctly negative presence — par for the course, considering he selfishly overtook the castle after she died. Once a month, the castle opens its doors to ghost hunters from 8 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Starting at £40, tickets give visitors access to the grounds to search for evidence of paranormal activity.
2. Ruthin Castle, Denbighshire
Even if you don’t see a ghost at Ruthin Castle — which you probably will — a visit to the hotel, restaurant, and spa is well worth the drive to North Wales. The castle’s property backs up to the Clwydian Range, strategically built in 1277 for King Edward I. The Iron Age fort was the site of wartime in the 1200s, the de Grey noble family’s home and base in the 1300s, and the first private hospital in Great Britain in 1923.
With the entire town of Ruthin considered one of the scariest haunted locations in Wales, taking a walk through the historic Ruthin Castle at night is no joke. Ghosts include the terrifying Lady Grey, who caught her husband cheating on her, murdered the mistress, and was executed for her crimes. She’s said to frequent the food hall and the towering battlements outside. Some ghost hunters even claim to see glowing orbs floating in the air on the castle grounds. Book a night at the hotel for the luxury treatment, or schedule a ghost tour with one of the local investigation companies to see if you can get your view of the little girl who walks along the thick castle walls.
This 16th-century fortified manor is a stunning Tudor home with expertly tended gardens and a flock of peacocks to welcome you — along with a horde of medieval ghosts. Gwydir Castle’s many noble residents include the “Mother of Wales” Katheryn of Berain and, much later, King George V and Queen Mary when they were the Duke and Duchess of York. In the early 1900s, when the castle’s fate was unknown, the American media tycoon William Randolph Hearst bought the gilded panels from the dining room, which have since been returned to the historic site.
It’s in the Ghost Room, though, that visitors most often report seeing the grey lady, an apparition who carries a putrid stench with her down the corridor between the Hall of Meredith and the Great Chamber. Some say the ghost belongs to an unfortunate servant who Sir John Wynn seduced before murdering her and hiding her body in the castle chimney. Hence the foul smell only gets stronger as you get closer to this room. Between this unsettled soul and the many other spirits people have seen, heard, and felt — including a procession along the Great Terrace at night time — you’ll surely experience the paranormal at Gwydir Castle. Book an afternoon self-guided ghost tour starting at £7.50 for admission to the castle.
4. Powis Castle, Welshpool
This perfectly-restored and maintained castle in Mid Wales dates back to the 1200s when the Herbert family lived there. The estate is reportedly haunted by a lady in black who likes to hang out by one of the bedroom fireplaces. The ballroom’s grand piano is another favourite spot of hers, and you can often hear her playing when the room is empty.
The history of ghosts at Powis castle dates back to the 1780s when a male apparition dressed in a gold-laced suit ordered a castle guest to remove a locked box and a key hidden in their room, demanding they send them to the Earl of Powis. He promised to end the hauntings at the castle in exchange for this errand — but it must’ve gone undone because visitors today still report plenty of ghosts.
The castle, gardens, and courtyard are open for visits, and tickets cost £8 for adults and £4 for children.
Nestled in Brecon Beacons National Park, this Victorian-era Gothic castle has a long and, at times, arduous history. After the building was completed in 1943, the Powell family — rumoured to be cursed — lived there through the deaths of Captain Powell’s son, wife, daughter, and, after his death, his oldest son. Later, the famous opera singer Adelina Patti bought the estate and lived there until she died in 1919, with the castle’s Adelina Patti Theatre honouring her legacy. As the tuberculosis pandemic surged in the U.K., Craig-y-nos became a sanatorium called Adelina Patti Hospital, where the first effective tuberculosis medication was administered to children.
With such a continued strong presence of Patti’s legacy and the castle’s complicated history with the terrible disease of tuberculosis, it’s no surprise that ghosts haunt the castle. During the TB era, nurses reported seeing apparitions and hearing footsteps during their shifts. Today, some ghost hunters say they’ve had trouble breathing while they’re in the hallways or that they can sense the presence of former TB patients. The children’s ward, where many sufferers perished from TB, is a hotspot for full-bodied apparitions and children’s laughter.
Fancy joining Haunted Rooms for Ghost Hunt, Dinner, and Sleepover at the infamously haunted Craig y Nos Castle?
Belonging to the Carew family since 1095, Carew Castle is their namesake. While the family has leased it to Pembrokeshire Coast National Park today, their history with the castle dates from the 1000s through to the late 1600s, when the family abandoned the home. Around 1000 AD, Gerald de Windsor adopted the Iron Age fort as part of Princess Nest’s dowry, his wife. In the 1200s, a medieval Carew built the main structure before the Plague ravaged the region in the 1500s.
With such a long history, it’s no surprise that paranormal hunters are sure of ghostly activity on this riverside estate. The castle is open for ghost hunts upon request, where guests might see the ghost of Princess Nest, known as “the most beautiful woman in Wales.” Despite the hardships she dealt with during her life, like being kidnapped and forced to bear children by her cousin, Owain, she’s known as a friendly spirit.
One peculiar ghost is a rescued pet ape of Sir Rowland Rees, who once ordered the monkey to kill a man. Sir Rowland ended up dead that night, but the ape was nowhere to be found, and ghost hunters believe it returns to visit the castle periodically.
Right in the centre of Cardiff, this urban castle dating back to 55 AD is home to rich local history, contemporary live music, numerous film and TV sets, and of course, a strong paranormal presence. The Gothic Revival castle was a Roman fort before prestigious families, like the Tudors and the Butes, lived there, making it one of the U.K.’s most important and well-known castles.
Cardiff Castle’s ghosts include one of the most iconic apparitions of all time — the ghostly coach pulled by phantom horses. This manifestation was first reported in 1956 when someone reported hearing the noises of a horse and carriage approaching the main castle gates. The person saw a full apparition of a coach with horses trotting right through the gates of the castle. Legend says the sighting of the ghostly coach means an impending death in your family. Less haunting but still decidedly spooky is the spirit of John Chricton-Stuart, 2nd Marquess of Bute, who died in the castle and now roams through the thick walls in a red Victorian coat.
There are tons more ghosts at Cardiff Castle to explore, with plenty of ghost tour companies offering guided excursions inside the impressive castle walls.
This formerly abandoned Norman fort from around 1000 AD has been altered and modified several times over, having been rebuilt from medieval ruins in the 1800s. The castle was one of Britain’s first commercial vineyards in the late 1800s, and it now belongs to the state. The unique style and location — right in the middle of an ancient beech forest — make Castell Coch one of Wales’s most picturesque castles. It’s also one of the most haunted.
Ghost hunters who brave the dark, deep dungeons of Castell Coch — some believed to have served as prison cells and punishment chambers — have reported feeling like someone or something is watching them.
The sinister mood at Castell Coch is not for the faint-hearted, with the guided ghost tours leaving visitors chilled to the bone from the likes of the Great Hall spirits, known to touch guests and make loud bangs around the walls.
9. Margam Castle, Neath Port Talbot
This Victorian “house” — a mansion built for the town’s eponymous Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot in the 1800s — dates back to the Iron Age, when a hill fort sat on the grounds.
A 16th-century mansion stood there until the 1700s, when it was demolished, only to be rebuilt again next to the ruins, which was again added at Talbot’s request in the 1800s. It stayed in Talbot ownership for many years until the 1940s. A fire in 1977 nearly destroyed the then-decrepit castle, which sparked the restoration efforts that make it a popular tourist destination today.
Margam Castle is a great place for a ghost hunt, with an episode of Ghost Hunters filmed there and tons of ghost reports over the years.
The spirit of Robert Scott, an old gamekeeper murdered on the grounds, is said to project negative, angry energy as he storms around the castle. Another common sighting is an apparition of a blacksmith, but he’s known to appear only to the contemporary groundskeeping staff.
Built under the ire of the Prince of Wales, the spectacular Caerphilly Castle is the second largest castle in Great Britain, with 30 acres full of towers, battlements, gatehouses, and the trademark thick walls surrounding it. The castle has been through a lot, including being a battle site during the Civil War, leaving it with fascinating features like the askew Leaning Tower.
In paranormal terms, Caerphilly Castle is considered one of the most haunted castles in Wales. Most famous is the Green Lady, who is thought to be Princess Alice’s ghost from the 1200s. Despairing in an unhappy marriage with the castle owner, the Prince of Brithdir came to town and swept her off her feet. When she told a monk of her affair, her husband, Gilbert de Clare, murdered the monk — soon after, Gilbert was murdered by the prince, prompting Alice’s untimely demise. Although she died in France, ghost hunters think the princess’s spirit haunts the site of her lover’s death. See for yourself on a guided ghost tour offered by local investigators at the hotel.
The village of Boverton, founded during William the Conqueror’s heyday, is home to Boverton Castle, built in the 1100s. With one rebuild in the 1500s, another renovation in the early 1800s, and a pile of ruins remaining today, the estate is ripe for hauntings.
The most famous ghost sighting is the Black Lady, first spotted in the early 1800s when the castle was renovated. Several working men say they spotted a tall woman with a dark aura perusing in clothes of mourning. She’s thought to be Hadwisa, the Earl of Gloucester’s daughter. It’s believed her husband abandoned her, and in her anguish, she supposedly locked herself inside the castle, where she eventually died. Some visitors even say they feel her touch or hear her cries of sorrow.
12. Kidwelly Castle, Carmarthenshire
This Norman castle has stood over the River Gwendraeth since the 1100s, when the fortified castle was repeatedly under siege by the Welsh. Located in the countryside of southern Wales — and the famous site of Monty Python and the Holy Grail — the present-day Cadw site welcomes visitors to walk the grounds and learn about the history.
Ghosts include, most famously, the spirit of Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd, who was the wife of Gruffydd ap Rhys. She was captured by the Normans during a battle at the castle and was later beheaded. Two of her sons died at this battle, leaving the castle scorned by death. Her beheaded ghost is seen frequently on the estate’s grounds, which you can visit with paranormal investigators or for a self-guided tour.