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A Ghost Story for Christmas

Whether or not it’s the most recent adaptation of an M.R. James basic or folklore that’s been handed down via generations, there’s nothing like a comfortable Christmas night time for a telling a chilling story. The Wraith at Fort George is precisely that.

Historic editions of Cabar Feidh kind a part of the intensive collections at The Highlander’s Museum at Fort George. The Queen’s Personal Highlanders (Seaforth & Camerons) Regimental Belief have kindly given us permission to breed The Wraith beneath. Snuggle up and prepare enter the fort on the eve of the First World Battle…

The Wraith at Fort George

(By W. Kirk, Creator of Tales of Second Sight in a Highland Regiment)

I’m going to name the person Spence, Kenneth Spence, though he was as pure Highland in blood as any Mac who ever wore the Mackenziue Tartan.

It was on the Fort then that I met my good friend for the primary time. He was a splendid sort; an enormous who had by no means heard of self-appraisement, a person with each reward of private perfection the gods can bestow, however as modest as a medicant friar. We might sit yarning for hours at night time, glad to be freed from a considerably noisy firm, largely gracing the canteen at these instances.

He would inform me a lot of his house life within the West, and he was by no means uninterested in speaking of his mom, whom he worshipped. She was not robust – some coronary heart bother, he mentioned – and dwelling on her weak point triggered him nice unease. Usually I’d hear a really terror in his voice when he spoke of this factor. He wouldn’t be rallied, nor would it not have been any kindness on my half to attempt to cheer him by means which could apply to a personality much less singular.

One night time he informed me the story of the household wraith – “Mac’s banner”, as he referred to as it. An previous unusual story of the historic Highlands it was to me, however these are traditions at which no man however a idiot may giggle.

The incident occurred earlier than the daybreak of written histories. It had been handed down via the years, this story of the Girl’s Veil. She was a bride newly come to the household stronghold, which was a grim hold within the centre of a loch.

A stone tower house on an island

Affairs of the Clan held her Chieftain engaged within the morning, and through such hours she would take a ship, and, alone, discover the loch islands, of which there have been many. Like all lakes within the mountainous districts, this one was topic to sudden squalls, however the woman laughed at dangers. In the future, nevertheless, her boat was caught in such a sudden storm.

A scream of terror penetrated to the room through which the Chieftain was dishing out justice. The phobia-stricken man rushed to the window overlooking the loch in time to see the dying of his bride. The wind had whipped the silken veil from her head, and the vagaries of the storm had carried it and wrapped it around the protruding head and shoulders of the Chieftain as he watched the dying wrestle.

A view looking down on a boat a loch through a narrow, slit-like window at a castle

A day or two after – the month was March – in the direction of the shut of a really tempestuous night, Kenneth and I repaired to the Ramparts. The barrack-room was darkish and none too heat. Within the open we are able to stroll and speak and smoke. We stood some time at an embrasure and watched the scene, dreich and lonely within the final diploma.

The wind got here out of the North-East in robust gusts, a gray and ghostly gentle confirmed nonetheless within the distant West, however the hills and the darkened sea have been one of their sameness. From the East got here the inexpressibly unhappy and mad moaning of the buoy on Nairn Sands, a sound in itself fearsome and disturbing. The loneliness of the ocean was damaged solely by the passage of solitary gulls, crying forlornly within the gloom.

There are natures that discover one thing soothing in environment like these, one thing akin to the hidden deeps in themselves. The true Gael at all times responds to influences of place and climate. We stood there silently at the hours of darkness, not a sound reached us from the hive of humanity beneath us.

An archive photo of the ramparts at Fort George with a small watchtower looking out to sea

I consider I used to be the primary to see it. For the time being, Kenneth was gazing eastwards, absorbed in, God is aware of, what unhappy ideas of his personal. For the second I hesitated. Some intuition informed me that right here was coming one thing uncanny, one thing international to the bizarre experiences of males. It was like a widespread sheet of whitest linen, and it was beating in the direction of us, fluttering and swaying within the face of the wind!

Maybe I cried out. I can not keep in mind now after twenty years.


I heard his voice, strangled by some emotion past my explaining. After which once more –

the Veil, the Veil!

And the he dropped into my arms, a robust man helpless as a baby. I propped him towards the wall, and held him there. By now the factor was on us, like a gauze of best cobweb it clung to out heads, and wrapped our shoulders spherical. It felt horribly moist and chilly and clammy. It clung onto our arms and faces, leaving a salt style on the lips as if we had been drenched in spin-drift. I dropped Kenneth’s kind to the bottom, however nonetheless it clung, a nauseating cloud of horror between us.

Now Kenneth raised his head and I bent down to boost him to his toes. It was performed, and the factor was gone; handed into the thriller out of which it got here. He was in a state bordering on panic, however he knew.

“My mom is useless.”

A black and white photo of the lonely ramparts of Fort George, where the climax of The Wraith at Fort George is set

We handed beneath, all the way down to the pleasant haunts of males. And we obtained to our cots in silence. One thing had occurred, that should not be spoken of in a barrack-room.

Morning got here with its proof. Kenneth went away to bury his mom, and I went on to Cromarty. He had not come to the third Battalion by the point I left with the draft, nor have I ever seen him since.

Trying again on that point, I usually marvel if it was some kind of private hallucination. Did Kenneth Spence ever exist? Why did he not be part of us? No man on the Fort at the moment, and I met a lot of them in France, may ever keep in mind him. One fellow went too far.

“So,” he answered my enquiry, “that was the identify o’ your pal. However you have been the one one which ever noticed him. We others knew rattling nicely you have been puggled.”*

However I used to be not!

*A Scots phrase used for weariness, exhaution – or drunkenness

Go to Fort George and The Highlander’s Musuem

So, what do you make of our tall story? Did the legend of the wraith make a return on the distant ramparts? Or was our narrator’s creativeness working wild? Anyway, concern not – you’re a lot extra more likely to spot a dolphin from the battlements!

You possibly can uncover extra in regards to the troopers who’ve been stationed at Fort George for the reason that 1700s at The Highlander’s Museum. The museum showcases the historical past of the Highland Regiments, with an array of artefacts and archives. Admission is included in a go to to Fort George.

The black and white pictures of Fort George which we’ve used on this weblog have been taken in 1958 and may be seen on Canmore together with many different archive photographs. Fortress Stalker, on Loch Laich, is standing in because the “grim hold within the centre of a loch”. The view via the citadel window is from Urquhart Fortress.

Family of grandparents and grandchild visiting Fort George.

That is the ultimate weblog in our sequence revealed for Scotland’s 12 months of Tales, however you possibly can look again on all of them in our weblog archive. And for extra frights and sights, try our Ghostly Tales for Halloween.



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