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Maryculter House Hotel

Maryculter House Hotel is situated on the site of a Knights Templar Manor and the ghost that reputedly haunts here may be related to these crusading knights. The land at Maryculter was given to the Templars in 1187 by the King of Scotland, which at that time would have been William the Lion (1165-1214). A further gift of land in the area was then made by Walter Bisset of Aboyne. The Templars then built their Preceptory at Culter in 1225. One source estimates that they held 8000 acres at Culter. The Templars built a chapel upon their land dedicated to the Virgin Mary which created a dispute with the Abbey at Kelso. They also had claims to land in Culter and argued that the Templars could not have their own church within the parish. The Pope founded in the favor of the Templars and the parish was split in two, the knight's portion being called Maryculter in respect to their patron saint.

Ruined remains of the chapel survive in the grounds of Maryculter House Hotel, which itself may have part of the Preceptor's lodging incorporated into it.

The ghost at Maryculter is that of a woman and the story goes that she may have been a Saracen who came to Maryculter from the Holy Land with a Templar Knight she had saved in battle. The Preceptor would not believe that the woman and warrior monk were just friends and condemned the knight to death. He subsequently stabbed himself in the heart and the Saracen girl did like wise, just after cursing the Preceptor, who was then struck by a lightening bolt and also died. The ghost of the girl is said to appear over the knights tomb or in some versions over her own and a phantom knight is supposed be have been seen riding over Kingusi Hill.

The story has several versions. In one she is the wife of a knight killed in the Holy Land and is seen by his tomb. Other versions name the knight as Godfrey Wedderburn though whether is an accurate identification I cannot say.

In Knights Templar in Britain by Evelyn Lord, she proposes that the story concerning Maryculter, the Saracen woman and the Kights Templar may have originated from Sir Walter Scott's book The Talisman.

Whatever the truth behind the legend, which we may never know for sure, Maryculter House Hotel is a beautiful location steeped in history.

Ian Topham

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