Many readers will associate Wales with their most dull childhood holidays; being lugged from castle to castle with Mum and Dad, being rained on during hikes, and being forced to pose for pictures when you felt like saying anything other than “Cheese”.
However, many fail to realise that there is so much more to Wales than a couple of mountains and some old ruins. The country is home to a deep paranormal subculture and has produced many of the most terrifying yet fascinating ghost stories ever told. Wales’ status as a paranormal hotspot is not something which the tourism team focuses too much on, so many tourists remain unaware of the countless spirits which supposedly surround them during their stay.
In this article, we’re going to try and balance things out by looking at some of the country’s most famous (or infamous) spots among paranormal enthusiasts and ghost hunters.
Here are the nine creepiest haunted places in Wales.
1. Skirrid Mountain Inn, AbergavennySkirrid Inn
The Skirrid Inn is a four and a half star public house located in the small Welsh village of Llanvihangel Crucorney. It is said to be one of the oldest pubs in Wales and has the ghosts and phantoms to prove it.
According to legend, The Skirrid Inn was once used as a courtroom and saw many men and women sentenced to death for petty crimes. Those who were found guilty were executed at the pub itself and were hung from the staircase’s well. Many visitors to the inn, sometimes unaware of its grizzly past, have reported witnessing the disturbing apparition of a corpse dangling from the ceiling.
There have also been many incidences of slammed doors, broken glasses, and assaulted guests.
However, not all of the spirits at The Skirrid Inn are menacing ones. As one of the oldest public houses in the country, the building has been the scene of much jubilation and many happy memories. For that reason, it is no surprise that employees often report hearing laughter, music, and the clinking of glasses coming from rooms that prove to be empty upon inspection.
2. Whittington Castle
Admittedly, this location is just outside Wales. However, such is its significance as a haunted destination, we just had to include it.
After almost a thousand years in existence, Whittington Castle is at the centre of almost as many legends and ghost stories. Some believe that the castle once housed the Holy Grail, though this obviously can’t be confirmed. There are hundreds of living people, however, who will support claims that the castle is indeed haunted.
Centuries of battles and betrayals have left dozens of ghosts roaming the castle both inside and out, including a mysterious figure in a black cloak and hood which seems to guard the castle gates. Some visitors have encountered a phantom blacksmith, still in the leather apron which weighed him down during his earthly life.
Perhaps the most frightening inhabitants of the castle are the numerous ghost children who are said to gaze from its windows, eying the tourists as they explore the grounds below. Children are scary enough when they’re alive, so a midnight visit to Whittington Castle is not for the faint of heart.
3. Roch Castle, Pembrokeshire
Roch Castle is home to many spirits and otherworldly beings, and countless orbs and other minor paranormal activity have been reported.
The tale of Roch Castle is steeped in mystery from the get-go, and the rumoured reason for the building of the castle may be stranger than anything which has transpired there in the past eleven centuries.
According to legend, Adam de Rupe, the original owner of the castle, ordered it be built after a witch prophesied that he would die from a snake bite within a year. However, the witch also promised Rupe that he would live a long and healthy life if he managed to make it through the year without being bitten.
Rupe, determined to minimise his contact with venomous snakes, built Roch Castle and retired to its highest room, intending to stay there for the next 365 days.
Weeks turned into months and the seasons passed with little activity. Though Rupe’s existence was boring, he found solace because he was still living, and spent his time planning his return to the outside world.
Towards the end of the year, the winter weather made it difficult for Rupe to remain inside the castle, and so he sent a servant out for some wood so he could build a fire to warm himself. Unfortunately for Rupe, the wood had not been properly inspected, and he wound up being bitten by a snake that had been lurking within a log. He died shortly after and it is believed his ghost still haunts the castle, with the greatest amount of activity being reported on the higher floors of the building.
Among other reported ghosts is the spirit of a woman, presumed to be the daughter of a family who once inhabited the castle. She has been seen to float down the halls before disappearing without a trace.
Roch Castle is owned by the Griffith-Rochs Foundation and is a popular getaway for couples hoping for a romantic weekend together. However, getting some alone time may be a little bit more difficult than it seems.
4. Llanthony Secunda Manor, Caldicot
As well as being a pain in the neck to spell, Llanthony Secunda Manor is purported to be one of the most haunted locations in all of the United Kingdom.
Originally built in the 12th century, the manor in its original state appeared a great deal different than it does today. For the first few years of its existence, Llanthony Secunda Manor was used as a two-story grange by a monastery and was added on as the years went by.
As well as many extensions and remodelling, the manor has seen its fair share of owners. In fact, the manor once belonged to King Henry VIII, although most historians are sceptical that he ever actually visited the home…
The building fell into a state of disrepair towards the end of the 20th Century. Still, it was eventually purchased by an American lady who set about restoring it to its former glory. The manor is now a much-lauded holiday home which has proven popular with travellers from all over the world, some aware of its paranormal reputation and some just hoping for a quiet place to stay.
The building has been the site of much paranormal activity throughout its history, but recent developments to the property seem to have caused unexplainable occurrences to increase tenfold.
Since the renovations, guests have reported their belongings being stolen or moved from one end of the room to the other. The chanting of monks has also been heard in various rooms throughout the manor.
On top of this, there has been much poltergeist activity in the building, with many visitors being lightly touched or pushed by unseen entities.
Anybody who wants to experience Llanthony Secunda Manor for themselves should head over to our Events section to see when Haunted Rooms will be holding their next event at the property.
5. Sker House, Bridgend
Sker House is another one of those buildings used to house monks during the beginning of the 1000s. When it was first built over 800 years ago, it was a single storey grange and was home to the Cistercian monks of Neath Abbey.
In 1543, the monastery was dissolved, and the property fell into the hands of Richard Williams, who subsequently sold it on to Christopher Tuberville. During the Tuberville’s’ ownership, the property underwent several drastic changes, and two stories were added to the original grange. As we saw with Llathony Secunda Manor, major works on historic buildings seem to encourage paranormal activity, which would explain the multiple sightings of ghosts coming out of Sker House for centuries.
The manor’s most famous ghost did not begin to appear until after the Tuberville’s sold the property. In 1797, a man named Isaac Williams began to let the house from its owner. Williams had two daughters, of whom he was extremely protective.
Isaac’s daughter, Elizabeth, fell in love with a poor boy from the surrounding area, and her father was infuriated to learn of their relationship. Though he forbade it, Elizabeth and Thomas continued to meet in secret and planned to elope together. When Isaac discovered their plans, he was so enraged that he locked his daughter in her bedroom and refused to set her free. She was finally permitted to leave when she agreed to marry a more respectable man from Neath and died of a broken heart a couple of years later.
Since then, visitors to the property have reported an uneasy feeling the deeper they travel through the former grange. There have also been numerous sightings of shadows and dark figures, particularly within the room where Elizabeth is said to have been locked up by her father.
Many have also heard high pitched wails and cries coming from the room, presumably those of the young woman yearning for her freedom and true love. Some also believe that there is an evil presence lurking within Sker House, which is surprisingly common in buildings inhabited by religious orders.
6. Castell Coch, Cardiff
There are castles all over the United Kingdom, and most of them are pretty scary, regardless of whether they have a history of paranormal activity or not. Castell Coch, however, is unique in two ways. Firstly, the division between this world and the next seems to be particularly thin as ghostly goings-on are regularly reported. Furthermore, Castell Coch is a relatively new building when compared to other castles.
Castell Coch was built on 13th Century ruins in 1870, meaning it is just a couple of decades more than 100 years old. It was designed by architect William Burgess, commissioned by John Patrick Crichton-Stuart, the Third Marquess of Bute. Crichton-Stuart intended the building to be his little hideaway in the hills, but apparently, it failed to meet his expectations.
The following owner of Castell Coch, a Lady Gwendolyn, was driven out of the building not long after it came into her possession. According to Gwendolyn, she frequently encountered the spirit of a woman dressed in white. Though the ghost did not appear to be malevolent or in any way interested in the business of the new owner, Gwendolyn, like most people, decided it was one haunting too many and went packing.
The woman is not believed to have any connection to the castle, but rather to the centuries-old ground upon which it was built. Her time on earth was marred by the loss of her son, who disappeared when still a child. It was later discovered that the boy had fallen into a well and drowned, though the woman never learned of this. She still roams the area around Castell Coch, presumably searching for her son, unaware that he has moved on.
7. Margam Castle, Port TalbotMargam Castle
Going from one relatively young haunted castle to another next up is Margam Castle in Port Talbot. Though Margam Castle was originally constructed for Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot in the mid-19th Century, the grounds on which it was built were used by humans for thousands of years prior. In fact, it served as an abbey from the 11th Century until King Henry VIII’s infamous falling-out with the Catholic Church, which led to him dissolving the Catholic monasteries throughout his kingdom.
Like Coch Castle, many of the ghosts at Margam Castle are the spirits of those whose lives closely linked to the area rather than the building itself. However, one of the most familiar spirits at Margam Castle is that of a man who worked as a gamekeeper in the current building. The man in question, Robert Scot, is said to have been murdered on the job, his life taken by an unruly poacher. Scott has been reported all around Margam Castle’s grounds, though his spirit is most frequently seen ascending the castle’s gothic staircase. Unlike a lot of castle spirits, Scott’s haunting is not residual. He frequently communicates with psychics and expresses the anger he feels over his untimely and unjust death.
8. Llancaiach Fawr Manor, NelsonLlancaiach Fawr Manor
Nobody is quite sure just when Llancaiach Fawr Manor was built, but references to the building appear in John Leland’s Itinerary, released in 1537. Most historians agree that there wasn’t much time separating the construction of the manor and the Itinerary, the consensus is that the manor was built in or around 1530. It was constructed on the ruins of another building and was designed so that it would be handily defended should relations between Wales and Britain break down. Today, the Grade I building operates as a living-history museum, though visitors to Llancaich Fawr Manor my experience a bit of undead history while they’re there.
The manor’s ghosts are many in number and varied in their behaviour, with almost every room in the building having its own spirit assigned to it. Rather than simply materialising – which they do with some frequency – the manor’s spirits make themselves known through blasts of cold air, random scents, and disembodied sounds such as footsteps and voices.
Many expectant mothers who have visited the castle have reported feeling uneasy and dizzy upon entering the building, with most having to sit down or leave before their condition worsens. This could be linked to the spirit of a young boy who is often seen and heard by the manor staff. It is believed that the boy met his end after falling from one of the manor’s upper-rooms, which left him with fatal injuries. However, the injuries do not seem to plague the spirit in the afterlife, as he is quite active and has been reported to tug on the sleeves of guests and lead them by hand throughout the manor. One paranormal researcher who investigated Llancaich Fawr Manor even claimed to have summoned the boy using a simple ball in a cup toy. According to the investigator, she was aided by the child in landing the ball inside the wooden cup after multiple failed attempts to do it herself.
9. Cardiff Castle, Cardiff
The site on which Cardiff Castle is built has been one of the most important pieces of land in all of South Wales since the 1st Century. It was here that the Romans built one of their many defence structures during their time ruling over what would later become the United Kingdom. It is believed that the original Roman fort lasted for about thirty years, coming down just before 100 AD. After Roman rule came to an end, there wasn’t a lot of activity on the site until the Normans came galavanting along in the early 1000s. During this period, Cardiff Castle was constructed, though spotty records mean no set date can be given. After being passed from owner to owner, Cardiff Castle fell into the Bute family’s hands, who held onto it until 1947, when the Fifth Marquess of Bute presented it to the county council.
Obviously, there is a lot of history at Cardiff Castle. So it should come as no surprise that paranormal activity at the building is reported with a startling degree of frequency. Of the many haunted rooms in the castle, one of the most active is the stockroom, where items are moved around and rearranged almost every morning by an unknown force. The few who have been lucky (or unlucky) enough to be there when this was going on, report that the items are moved by a faceless ghost garbed in a flowing white skirt, resembling more a cloud of smoke than a human. The daily paranormal activity also occurs in the main dining room of the castle. It is here at a quarter past three every morning that the doors of the room open and shut by themselves, regardless of whether they have been locked.
Frequently spotted at Cardiff Castle is the spirit of the Second Marquess of Bute, who oversaw restoration on the site but died before it was completed. He is seen to navigate the castle like the traditional ghost, walking through walls until he gets to his desired location. For the Second Marquess of Bute, that location is a room next to the chapel, where he passed away in 1848.
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