Haunted Saddle, Craigdarroch
At the battle of Killiecrankie on 27th July 1689 the Jacobites of ‘Bonny Dundee’ (John Graham of Claverhouse, 1st Viscount Dundee (who died in the battle), defeated the government’s army. Among the thousands that lost their lives that day was Lt Colonel John Ferguson, 13th Laird of Craigdarroch (Born Abt 1661), who fought on behalf of King William III in General Hugh Mackay’s army. Following the battle, the Laird’s horse and saddle were brought back to Craigdarroch by his servant.
The saddle, which was kept at the top of the stairs at Craigdarroch is said to have been the focus of a haunting, the ghost being that of Elizabeth. The story says that his wife Elizabeth pined for her lost husband and after her death haunted the saddle. As she subsequently remarried though it is thought that maybe the ghost was his mother also called Elizabeth.
In 1918 the saddle was removed from Craigdarroch to its current location, Caprington Castle near Kilmarnock in East Ayrshire. In 1920 an exorcism of the saddle finally laid the spirit to rest.
In his book ‘The Jacobites and the Supernatural’, Geoff Holder expands on the story given above. I’ll paraphrase some of those additional details. The servant was named John Williamson and he fled the battle in fear with Colonel Ferguson’s horse rather than help his wounded laird remount his stead and potentially survive himself. Essentially Williamson abandoned him.
Upon his return to Craigdarroch, Williamson was cursed by either Fergusons mother or wife when they realised what had happened. Essentially she said that the servant’s descendants would never see a horse again. Subsequently Williamson’s descendants were born blind or with poor or failing eyesight.
Elizabeth’s apparition proceeded to haunt the house and was often witnessed either around the saddle or in the stables.
Strange experiences relating to the Ferguson’s do not end there. In his 1911 book ‘Witchcraft and Superstitious Record in the South-Western District of Scotland’, J Maxwell Wood suggest that ‘The death of a member of the family of Craigdarroch is believed to be heralded by a sudden and simultaneous peal of household bells.’