Ah, Wales. Land of rugged mountains, quiet village communities, Rugby fanatics, and the most charming accent in Britain. Wales is where both of us at Books and Bao have spent a lot of our time: one having been born and raised in Swansea, and the other having studied at Aberystwyth University. Wales is a nation with a deep, dark history of Celtic folklore, ancient castles, warring states, and thus, an awful lot of ghosts – making for a very haunted Wales.
The UK is overflowing with famous haunted locations, most notably across England and Scotland. But there is a wealth of exciting places to adventure to in Wales as well. Haunted castles in Wales make for some of the most rugged, untouched, medieval adventures. And the haunted houses in Wales hold secret some of the most chilling and eerie ghost stories you could imagine. So, if you fancy joining a ghost hunt in Wales, or you just want to discover the very best haunted houses in Wales, you’ve come to the right place. Here are the best places in Haunted Wales: the haunted castles, haunted hotels, and haunted houses.
Haunted Castles in Wales
If you visit this, not only one of the most famous castles in South Wales but also one of the most haunted castles in Wales, then you’d better… tread caerphilly (I am so sorry). Caerphilly Castle is said to be haunted by a ghost known as the Green Lady of Caerphilly Castle. Said Green Lady is reported to be the ghost of Princess Alice, a French woman who married the castle’s owner, Gilbert de Clare. Their marriage was not a happy one, and when the Prince of Brithdir, Gruffudd the Fair came along, Alice fell madly in love with him. She confided her love in a monk who betrayed her trust to Gilbert. Gilbert then banished Alice back to France and went on a hunt for Gruffudd the Fair. Gruffudd found and hanged the monk before himself being captured and hanged by Gilbert. At the news of Gruffudd’s death, Alice reportedly dropped dead immediately back home in France, and her ghost is now said to haunt the halls of Caerphilly Castle (though it’s not clear how the ghost made it to Wales from France, but who are we to judge).
This castle in Mid Wales is one of the largest castles in all of Wales and dates all the way back to the 13th century. Powis Castle is in uncannily perfect condition, making it a great castle to explore. But how is it a haunted castle? Well, what makes Powis Castle’s ghosts so compelling is that nobody knows who they were; it’s been so many centuries. Sightings of ghosts at Powis Castle date back hundreds of years, with one famous sighting coming from as far back as 1780 when an old guest at the castle was led through the place by the ghost of a man wearing gold. Other ghostly phenomena have included pianos that play themselves and knocks at the door when there was never anyone there.
If you’re interested in ghost tours in Wales or ghost hunts in South Wales, then Castell Coch, one of the most awe-inspiring castles in South Wales, might be the place to visit! Far removed from most of the haunted castles in Wales, Castell Coch (or Red Castle) is actually a 19th century gothic revivalist castle rather than a medieval Welsh castle. And it is the perfect place for a ghost hunt in Wales. While Castell Coch does host school trips and even weddings, ghost hunts seem more appropriate.
Castell Coch is home to a fair few ghosts. One of whom is said to be Ifor Bach, a nobleman and owner of the original medieval castle which once stood where Castell Coch is now. Legend says that Ifor Bach practiced witchcraft and used it to transform two servants into stone eagles who would guard the castle’s treasures. Another ghost is said to be that of Dam Griffiths, a real-life Woman in Black who lost her son when he drowned in the surrounding wetlands, and her ghost has since wandered the castle halls, hoping to be reunited with her drowned boy.
Boverton, once one of the great castles in South Wales, is now a creepy shell of what it once was, with only the stone walls remaining intact. But that emptiness certainly adds to this Welsh castle’s eeriness. Boverton Castle is said to be haunted by a woman scorned by love. Hadwisa, daughter of the Earl of Gloucester, married Prince John who soon enough abandoned her for the love of another woman. Hadwisa boarded herself up inside Boverton Castle, cold and alone, until John one day returned seeking refuge after getting himself into a bit of trouble. Hadwisa, after all, would still do anything for her husband. But when the trouble was done, John left her once again and there in Boverton she eventually died. Today, if you visit this castle in South Wales, you may feel the touch of a cold hand on your shoulder or hear the sound of crying and wailing: the sorrowful and lonely ghost of Hadwisa.
Fans of Harry Potter are really going to love this one. It’s famously stated that Kidwelly Castle, one of the most haunted castles in Wales, is home to the ghost of a headless woman – and that we may know who she was. The headless figure in grey robes is supposedly the ghost of Gwenllian, princess of Wales. Gwenllian, a redheaded warrior princess, was born in 1100. She fought the Normans at a bloody battle to besiege this very castle, where she was then promptly captured and beheaded. Her son eventually became one of the most celebrated figures of Welsh history: The Lord Rhys.
Read More: Visit Hay-on-Wye, Book Town of Wales
Haunted Hotels in Wales
The Skirrid Mountain Inn
The Skirrid Mountain Inn is one of the most haunted hotels in Wales, dating back an incredible 900 years and nestled in heart of the Brecon Beacons. Already half a century old by the time of Shakespeare, the Skirrid Mountain Inn is said to have inspired The Bard’s writing. But why is it one of the most haunted hotels in Wales? Well, that will be because of the executioners’ ground on the property. The land that this haunted hotel rests on was also once used to execute those deemed undesirable. And where else would such angry, hateful, frightening ghosts go but the inn itself? To this day, many centuries-old hanged ghosts are said to reside at the inn.
Fun side note: There’s also a local legend surrounding the Skirrid Mountain Inn: that the mountain nearby roared and split in two at the moment of Jesus’ execution at the behest of the Romans. Given that nobody in Britain would even hear about Jesus for hundreds of years, it’s a curious legend but a legend all the same!
Cross Keys Inn, Usk
Next on our chilling list of haunted hotels in Wales is one not haunted by hanged men but one singular young woman. According to local legend, a family who once lived at the Cross Keys Inn kept their daughter from seeing her lover by locking her away. She responded by taking handfuls of poisoned berries which grew on the tree outside her bedroom window and eating them until she was dead. Now, her ghost haunted the rooms of the Cross Keys Inn. If you stay at this inn, you may just run into her. You’ll know she’s there if you find the door to your room opening all on its own. So, sleep with one eye open and maybe bar the door.
The Blue Lion Inn
If you picture haunted hotels in Wales, you’re probably tempted to imagine a tall, if rural, hotel. But most are inns, and The Blue Lion Inn is a delightfully rural 17th century haunted inn found in the Vale of Clwyd, framed by the mountains of Snowdonia. But what makes it one of the great haunted hotels in Wales? Well, in 1646 a farm labourer and son of the owner, John Henry, was killed in a drunken brawl – possibly with his brother. His body was later found laid atop a coffin in another person’s grave. To this day, Henry is said to haunt the inn, still dressed in the workers clothes he died in – even down to the string tied around his waist used as a belt. Back then, you see, The Blue Lion Inn was actually a farmhouse (not hard to believe when you visit the area).
Haunted Houses in Wales
Dryffryn is one of the oldest haunted houses in Wales, with a history that can be traced back to the 7th century. In the 16th century, one of the admirals to Queen Elizabeth I – a man named Thomas Button, who was also famous at the time for being an Arctic navigator – came into ownership of Dryffryn House. Button’s haunting of the house doesn’t have a particularly terrifying backstory. He simply adored the house, and his ghost has remained there ever since. Specifically, the ghost can be found haunting the cellar and the gardens outside. Sightings of his ghost hovering over the beer butt in the cellar seem in keeping with something a Welsh ghost would do.
Oh, Aberystwyth, my old haunt (pun intended). Before starting this blog in Seoul and Tokyo, I studied theatre (never did anything with it) at this quiet Welsh seaside town. And never once did I visit this awesome Georgian mansion but how I wish I had! Nanteos Mansion, one of the most haunted houses in Wales, is a magnificent stone structure nestled amongst thick trees that looks splendid as the seasons are changing and terrifying in the dead of night. According to local legend, these dense trees are home to the ghost of Gruffydd Evans. At night, especially around Christmas time, you may catch the sound of his harp being played out in the forest.
As for the mansion’s interior, it is haunted by its very own Grey Lady: Elizabeth Owen. On her deathbed, Owen, it is said, rose up and rid her most precious jewels before finally dying that night. Now, her ghost – like a pirate – roams the house searching for its precious jewels. We don’t recommend going in search of her jewels. She wouldn’t like that.
The ghosts that have been sighted at this most creative of haunted houses in Wales are an awful lot of fun. Two standard Victorian ghosts include a woman in white and a Victorian gentleman in coat and tails. But more fantastic are the ghosts of two swordsmen locked in a duel at the top of the staircase – perhaps they’re cursed to forever duel with no one the victor? One other curious sighting is more alien than ethereal, with a young visitor to this haunted house having claimed to have seen a little green man with green eyes.
If Sker house isn’t the most haunted, it’s certainly one of the most haunted houses in Wales. An 800-year-old creepy-as-hell mansion, Sker House was famous as part of a Catholic plot to assassinate King Charles II in 1678. Father Philip Evans was arrested at Sker House and was soon enough hung, drawn, and quartered in Cardiff. The house also has a local legend surrounding it: that of Elizabeth Williams, a young woman whose father refused her to marry the man she loved, and even foiled a plot of her to run away with the young man. Her father then locked her away and eventually forced her into marriage with a man he approved of.
Elizabeth Williams’ ghost is said to haunt the house still, with sightings of her ghostly form and the Marley-esque sound of chains frequently being reported by visitors. Her story proved so captivating that it inspired a novel by Lorna Doone author R.D. Blackmore titled The Maid of Sker. It’s not every day you might be able to meet a ghost made famous by a novel.
More Haunted Spots in the UK
Will predominantly writes about the books of Books and Bao, examining the literature of a place and how the authors have used the art of storytelling to reflect the world and the culture around them.