Wales is a country of many parallels — grassy plains filled with grazing sheep, mountainous passes surrounded by angry rocky terrain. In some ways it doesn’t seem to belong to the rest of Great Britain, and indeed for many years fought to keep an identity separate from that of its conquerors.
Wales is very much like its Celtic neighbors in a few ways, though, and its abundance of haunted castles may very likely be one of the biggest common factors! You might not think of Wales as a “ghost country” in contrast to its neighboring lands, but you may be surprised to find out that many Cymry, the people of Wales, consider their country to be very receptive to otherworldly visitors. The countryside even looks haunted, caught up in a timeless magic. It’s fascinating to know that the very same scenery found there today probably existed centuries ago, looking much the same! Wales is a country where everything seems bigger.
In a place known as Glamorgan, a wonderful example of a medieval castle still stands, looking by the exterior as if time has allowed it to slumber peacefully. This place is known as Caerphilly Castle, and the ghostly presence is attributed to forbidden love. A man known as Gilbert de Clare, who once lived in this fortress, had a wife named Alice, who didn’t seem to share his affection. She took a lover from among the Welsh nobility, and when the young man was found out, his execution was swift. A woman is sometimes seen walking the battlements of Caerphilly, mourning the love that was stolen from her.
Powis Castle can be found in Powys and is known for its sandstone walls and its old spirits. As long ago as the 1780s, a woman who came to help with the castle’s upkeep witnessed an even older spirit who alerted her and actually offered her the chance to stop the haunting. He told her to give a certain key to the head of the household, and he would leave and not bother the family any longer. Sure enough, the gentleman has never been seen at Powis again. Since that time, unearthly presences seem to be the norm. A room that was once inhabited by the duke of the castle is reported to have “physical” presences who like to touch and tease unsuspecting human guests!
In Denbighshire lies an edifice known as Rhuddlan Castle. This Welsh castle was the brainchild of England’s King Edward I, forever known as Longshanks. He wanted to make sure the Welsh populace didn’t try to fight for the parts of Wales that he had conquered, and Rhuddlan was only one of the fortresses built for this purpose. One of the ancient stories goes that a Welsh princess, losing her way in the forest, was chivalrously rescued by an unknown man. It turns out that it was not a man at all, but a fiendish beast attempting to fool the royal family. When the princess discovered his true form, she refused to be pledged to him, and was killed by the fiend’s own hand. Even to this day, screams are heard from the woods . . . merely the wind, or a terrified ancient princess?
Caernarfon Castle is found in Caernarfon, Gwynedd, which lies in northern Wales. The castle scenery is spectacular, since the Straits of Menai lie far below the ramparts. It was here that Edward Longshanks’ son Edward was born and soon pledged as a Welsh prince to appease the natives. Edward’s presence is possibly still felt here, because one of the various spectral entities reported here is said to be of royal dress. Another tale says that soldier spirits still guard the castle as they did in their own time.
Gwydir Castle in northern Wales has garnered quite a reputation for itself. The original castle began in the Middle Ages but, as many castles, has had its appearance altered over time. Some consider it to be one of the most haunted places in the country! Found in Snowdonia, Gwydir is said to house the spirit of John Wynn, whose family owned the castle long ago. A young woman is also found here, but no one is sure who she is or why she continues to keep the living company at Gwydir.