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Marion Carruthers and the Green Lady of Comlongon Castle

Standing in 120 acres of secluded woodland and gardens, Comlongon Castle consists of a massive keep, with walls 14 foot thick in places, to which a mansion was added in the 19th century. The grand hall has a massive fireplace, and there are steps down to the guard chamber and the dark pit prison.

 

Comlongon was held by the Murray family from 1331 after Sir Thomas Randolph had given the lands to his nephew Sir William Murray, and their descendants held it until 1984. The family became Earls of Annandale, and later of Mansfield. The mansion is now used as a popular hotel.

 

The castle is said to be haunted by a ‘Green Lady’, the spirit of Marion Carruthers of Mouswald. She was the joint heiress, along with her elder sister Janet, to her father’s considerable lands and property after he was slain in a raid in 1548.

 

The poor girl was forced into a betrothal of marriage with John MacMath of Dalpeddar, nephew of Sir James Douglas of Drumlanrig (Douglas was also her guardian), a man she did not love, although the motive appears to have been her property, rather than amorous desire.

 

As Douglas was her guardian he had virtually absolute control of Marion, who nevertheless seems to have been a strong and independent young lady.

 

And the wrangle was to last for years. Even the Privy Council seemed to be against her and in 1563 Marion was ordered into the wardenship of Borthwick Castle.

 

Marion sought refuge in Comlongon, however, the castle of her uncle, Sir William Murray. She was apparently so distressed from the long dispute that she eventually committed suicide by jumping from the lookout tower.

 

An alternative, and perhaps more likely, version is that she was murdered by the Douglases who gained access to her room and threw her from the roof.

 

Because she was thought to have committed suicide, she was not given a Christian burial, and it is said no grass will grow on the spot where the poor girl died.

 

This happened on 25 September 1570, when she would have been about 29 years of age. Douglas did well from her demise and went on to obtain her share of her father’s lands.

 

Her apparition is said to have been witnessed, both in the grounds and in the castle, the phantom of a forlorn sobbing girl. The sounds of her weeping have also been reported, as well as a ghostly presence which pushes past people. There have been recent reports of activity, including a photograph purporting to show the ghost.

 

© Martin Coventry 2017

More info on Comlongon Castle from thecastlesofscotland.co.uk

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© Martin Coventry