Castles of Britain

Myths and Legends

Castell Coch
The treasure of Ifor Bach, a former owner of a castle that once stood on the site of the present castle, is reputedly hidden in the nearby tunnel which leads to Cardiff Castle. It is guarded by three eagles, which will remain until Ifor returns to collect the treasure.

Castell Gwynionydd
The people of Pentre-cwrt across the Teifi were a thorn in the side of the devil who planned to dam the Teifi with a giant spadeful of earth and drown them. On his way, the devil met a cobbler from Llandyssul carrying a sack full of shoes he had mended. They talked, and, on learning the devil's plan, the cobbler pointed out that it was still a long way to Pentre-cwrt. He displayed his shoes as evidence of how many he had worn out on this great distance. The devil was taken in, did not think his plan was worth so much effort and threw down his spadeful of earth in disgust. Thus formed the castle mound.

Dunraven Castle
Wrecking involved showing lights on the coast during storms so that ships at sea would mistake them for a harbor or another ship's lights and sail onto the rocks, leaving the wreckers to pick up the cargo the next morning. In the 16th century, one of the Vaughans became very expert at wrecking as a way to gain financial status. One night as Vaughan hurried down to see which ship had been snared, one of his men ran up to him carrying the severed hand of the ship's dead captain. Vaughan realized from seeing a ring on the hand that he had been responsible for the death of his own son. Horrified, he sold the estate, and in the early 19th century it was acquired by the Dunravens.

Dinefwr Castle
This stronghold came into great prominence in the 11th century when Rhys ap Tewdwr rigidly held it. Every occupier in the intervening centuries was a Rhys. One Rhys is said to have imprisoned his father and brother in the castle, to ensure that he inherited the riches he coveted. For added security he had his brother's eyes put out, but the blind man knew the castle so well that he was able to feel his way to his father's cell and release him.

Dun Carloway
In the 17th century the Morrisons of Ness used the broch as their stronghold against the MacAulays of Uig. A member of the MacAulay family climbed the outer wall using a dagger to find holds in the masonry and suffocated the sleeping Morrison family by throwing smouldering heather over them.

Dunphail Castle
The Comyns built this 14th century stronghold. In 1330 Regent Andrew Moray besieged the castle and managed to capture five of the garrison. The men were executed and their heads flung over the walls of the castle. In the 18th century five skull-less skeletons were found near the castle.

Luffness Castle
In the keep basement was a massive door leading to a windowless small vaulted small chamber that was used as a cloak room. The door had a great lock and key. The family keep this door open at all times, but one day the son of the house found the door locked and the key was missing. The whole family was astonished, as no one admitted locking the door, and there was no reason to lock it. The door was so massive that it could not be broken down without major upheaval, so it was left locked. One day the son thought of shining a torch through the gun loop. When the beam shone into the room it was discovered that the great iron key was projecting from the ancient lock on the inside. There was nothing else in the room to be seen, except for the old table where coats were put. To this day the door remains locked from the inside.

Megginch Castle
Secret tunnels and castles stir up stories of mystery, but most end with the same excuse. They have been blocked up, or have fallen in. The Megginch owners had always boasted that the castle had a secret underground passage, but no one had been shown it, nor could it be located. No one believed it. In later times there was a fire at the castle and one of the fire-engines, manoeuvring into position outside, fell into the underground tunnel.

Roch Castle
The castle was built by Adam de la Rupe around 1200. Adam took the precaution of building his castle on a lofty volcanic rock to foil the prophecy that he would die from the bite of an adder. Little known by him, an adder was inadvertently brought into the castle hidden inside a bundle of firewood. Adam de la Rupe died from a poisonous bite of that snake.

Toddington Castle
Apparently, local legends tell that a witch is imprisoned within the castle mound and that if you put your ear to the ground on Easter you can hear her cooking pancakes.

Tower of London
Edward V and his brother were imprisoned in the Tower of London. Both died in the same year. It is said that Richard III ordered their murder, but this has never been proven.

Ravens, their wings clipped, roam the grounds of the Tower of London. Legend has it that the day the ravens desert the tower, London will fall to its enemies.

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