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The spirits of the murdered Scots and their executioner live in Chillingham castle

The English castle of Chillingham on the border of England and Scotland was built at the end of the 12th century. According to legend, thousands of people died within its walls. And some of them remained here in the form of ghosts.

Torturer Sage and his victims

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At the end of the 13th century, Chillingham was considered the residence of the English king Edward I Long-legged.

England and Scotland were almost constantly at war, and the cellars of the castle were filled with “rebels”, among whom were even women and children. Prisoners rarely came out of the dungeons alive.

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According to sources, for three years the duties of the executioner in this prison were performed by a certain John Sage. Previously, he served in the royal army, but after a leg injury received in battle, he could no longer fight.

But the executioner’s craft turned out to be just right for him. He worked as King Edward 1’s prime torturer. He had a deep hatred for the Scots and little mercy for which the King gave him this position.

John Sage was such a cruel torturer that he is famous for killing around 75000 men, women, and children under his cruelty. He never bestowed his prisoners with a simple death; instead, he tortured them until they died.

Often legs and arms were broken before they were thrown 20ft down into the oubliette. The prisoners died a painful death either by falling down this way or simply being starved in such a condition.

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After the end of hostilities, Sage burned alive all the adult prisoners in the castle grounds. This happened in front of their children, who, according to rumors, were also subsequently killed by the executioner.

The bodies of the victims, as a rule, were not buried, but dumped into a nearby lake.

But Sage was overtaken by retribution. One day, he became angry with his then mistress Elizabeth Charlton for something and killed her.

The girl’s father led one of the gangs that helped the British fight the Scots. The leader of the robbers threatened the king that if he did not take action against Sage, then he, along with his gang, would go over to the side of the Scots.

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As a result, the executioner himself was sentenced to hanging. But he allegedly did not live to see the execution – one of the enemies managed to finish off the sadist.

Now, according to legend, the ghost of the executioner roams the castle, ringing chains and uttering loud groans. And from the former torture room at night you can hear such sounds as if someone is dragging the body.

Visitors claim that they can still hear the screams of the tortured souls in the castle vicinity and have seen John Sage’s silhouette lingering in the castle.

There is a legend that, dying, John Sage cast a curse on the castle and all its subsequent owners.

“Haunted Castle at Chillingham”, by Cross Duck, is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Ghost of Lady Berkeley

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At the beginning of the 18th century, the Berkeleys became the next owners of the estate. Soon quarrels began in the previously friendly and happy family.

There is a saddening tale associated with the family; it is said that Lady Berkeley’s husband ran off with her own sister, Lady Henrietta, and Lady Berkeley was left abandoned at the castle, with only her baby daughter for company.

Lady Berkeley was utterly heartbroken and full of agony. She wanted to avenge her heartbreak but died a lonely death at the castle. If you are reading this, it means that this content has been stolen from – and those who copied the text did not notice this. But our lawyers will do it.

There is a Gray Room in Chillingham where a portrait of Lady Berkeley hangs. And it is believed that as soon as a man guilty of adultery crosses the threshold of Chillingham, the deceased leaves the portrait and begins to wander around the castle.

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It is claimed by the visitors the rustle of Lady Berkeley’s dress is sometimes heard along the passage. There are cold chilled invisible sweeps along the passage with her long dress as she runs down to look for her husband, leaving a cold chilling aura behind for the visitors to sense.

Tourist object

By the beginning of the 20th century, the residence fell into disrepair, and during the Second World War, a soldier’s barracks was located here. After the war, the estate was almost destroyed, and the Gray family, who owned it at that time, renounced the rights to it – if they took up the restoration of the castle, this would lead to bankruptcy.

In the 1980s, the castle was bought by Lord Humphrey Wakefield and his wife, who was a descendant of those Greys. The Wakefields have spent considerable money to restore the historic monument.

There are many Chillingham Castle ghost stories, and this isn’t even the beginning of it. Some Chillingham Castle ghosts continue to be nameless, some yet to be discovered. Though not everyone has described a haunted experience in their visit to the castle, a significant number of people have experienced something or the other.

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Scientists and people of logic have claimed it to be a psychic disorder, and no such evidence has been found on the visitors’ part to say otherwise. The owner of the castle Sir Humphrey both agrees and disagrees with such incidences and continues to invite visitors to experience the castle’s creepy yet enthralling serenity.

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Jake Carter

Jake Carter is a researcher and a prolific writer who has been fascinated by science and the unexplained since childhood. He is always eager to share his findings and insights with the readers of, a website he created in 2013.