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Spedlins Tower


The tower dates from the 15th century, became ruinous in the 19th century, and was later restored in the 1960's to its present state. The tower was the occupied by the Jardine family until they moved to a nearby mansion.

The story goes that a miller named Dunty Porteas was locked away in the tower dungeon for some petty reason after he had fell out of favour with Sir Alexander Jardine. Sir Alexander went on an errand to Edinburgh forgetting that the dungeon keys were in his pocket. The poor Miller slowly starved to death, and when the door was opened it was discovered that in his desperation and hunger he had gnawed the flesh from his arms and hands. For years afterwards the ghost of the miller tormented the family with tortuous screams of hunger and pain.

The Jardines in desperation hired an important minister, who carried out an exorcism and finally managed to confine the spirit to the dungeon. The binding was carried out with the aid of a bible that was left near the dungeon and acted as a barrier for Dunty's restless spirit. The bible was sent to be rebound in Edinburgh in 1710, allowing the millers spirit to roam free and wreak havoc once again, until the bible was returned to its rightful place. Folklore to this day says that of you poke a stick into the dungeon of Spedlins Tower it will come back half-chewed.

The ghost of Porteus moved with the Jardine family in the 19th century when the abandoned the castle for a more comfortable mansion, which has since been demolished. The story may date to the early 17th century, as the bible - which was once on show - dated to 1634. The story appears in 'The Antiquities of Scotland' Francis Grose 1789.


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Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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Re: Spedlins Tower

According to 'The Haunted Homes and Family Traditions of Great Britain' by John Ingram (1897)

This ancient fortress bore the reputation, for a long number of years, of being haunted by the spirit of a certain man, known in the flesh as Porteous. The story of this haunting has been frequently told by Grose, the antiquary, and other well-known writers, and the truth of the events about to be recorded has been most emphatically asserted by persons of respectability and credit ; indeed, many a ghost story passes current that has not had such corroborative evidence as this tale of antique lore.

Spedlin's Tower, which stands on the south-west bank of the Annan, in the time of Charles the Second was in the possession of Sir Alexander Jardine, of Applegarth. At one time this baronet had confined in the dungeon of his tower a miller, named Porteous, who was suspected, truthfully or not cannot be known, of having set fire wilfully to his own premises ; the alleged object tradition does not condescend to inform us. Sir Alexander Jardine, soon after this man's incarceration, was suddenly called away to Edinburgh, and carrying the keys of the dungeons with him, forgot or disregarded his prisoner, until he was passing through the West Port, when, it has been suggested, perhaps the sight of the warder's kevs brought to his mind his own. He sent back im- mediately a courier to liberate the unfortunate man, but Porteous had, in the meantime, perished of hunger.

No sooner was he dead than his ghost began to torment the household, and no rest was to be had within Spedlin's Tower by day or by night. In this dilemma Sir Alexander, according to old use and wont, summoned a whole legion of ministers to his aid; and by their strenuous efforts, Porteous was at length confined to the scene of his mortal agonies where, however, he continued to scream occasionally at night, ''Let me out, let me out, for I 'm deem' o' hunger ! '" He also used to flutter against the door of the vault, and was always sure to remove the bark from any twig that was sportively thrust through the key-hole.

The spell which thus compelled the spirit to remain in bondage was attached to a large black-lettered Bible, used by the exorcists, and afterwards deposited in a stone-niche, which still remains in the wall of the staircase ; and it is certain that after the lapse of many years, when the family repaired to a newer mansion (Jardine Hall), built on the other side of the river, the Bible was left behind, to keep the restless spirit in order. On one occasion, indeed, the volume requiring to be re-bound was sent to Edinburgh ; but the ghost, getting out of the dungeon, and crossing the river, made such a disturbance in the new house, hauling the baronet and his lady out of bed, and committing other annoyances, that the Bible was recalled before it reached Edinburgh, and replaced in its former situation.

The good woman who told Grose this story in 1788, declared that should the Bible again be taken off the premises, no consideration whatever should induce her to remain there a single night. But the charm seems to be now broken, or the ghost must have become either quiet or disregarded ; for the old Bible has been removed, and is now kept at Jardine Hall.

jschester
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Re: Spedlins Tower

I am a direct descendant of Dunty Porteous and only last week gave a talk to the Wrexham U3A Family History Society about my mother's research into the family history. I related the above tale, which the audience found fascinating. I'd be very pleased to hear from anyone else with connections to this story.

JS - Chester



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