Investigation Report – 28th of November – 2009
Castle Menzies in Scotland is the ancestral seat of the Clan Menzies. It is located a little to the west of the small village of Weem, near Aberfeldy in the Highlands of Perthshire, and was formerly known as Weem Castle.
The sixteenth century castle, restored by the Menzies Clan Society, was the seat of the Chiefs of Clan Menzies for over 400 years (open in summer; entrance charge). Strategically situated, it was involved in the turbulent history of the Highlands. Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Stuart Pretender to the throne, rested for two nights in the Castle on his way to the Battle of Culloden in 1746. The restoration of the ancient part of the castle involved the demolition of a greatly decayed 18th century wing. A large Victorian ballroom was, however, retained (not visible in the above photograph).
The restored castle is an example of architectural transition between an earlier tradition of rugged fortresses and a later one of a lightly defensible ‘château’. The walls are of random rubble, originally harled (roughcast), but the quoins, turrets and door and window surrounds are of finely carved blue freestone. This attractive and extremely hard-weathering stone was also used for the architectural details and monuments at the nearby Old Kirk of Weem, which was built by the Menzies family and contains their monuments and funeral hatchments.
Anna, Billy, James, Kim and Lisa
Paranormal Discovery also present
The team carried out full base line readings on arrival. There were no fluctuations or anomalies to report throughout the night.
Following on from their previous investigation, sensors were placed in room containing piano just off of the Pink Room. These motion sensors were placed in middle of room as footsteps were captured previously on Dictaphone with no one present. However these sensors were not triggered at all during investigation.
After setting these sensors up, Anna, Kim and Lisa on leaving the Pink Room all heard a very loud sigh and commented on it, as they all suspected each other of producing this sound. On realizing it was not any of them, they asked out for more activity. On leaving room again, they all heard another loud sigh.
Anna, Kim and Lisa checking trigger object in Attic, all heard loud distinct footsteps coming from what seemed the other end of room. They were very loud and fast approaching. At the time, this startled them and on checking with other team members, they surmised it must be from other team as noise does travel within some rooms below. It was not until going through findings that they realised, it could not have been other team members. This was collaborated by other group present who also experienced loud footsteps within Attic when our team had retired to our sleeping bags in the new wing. John Jack, the castle administrator has also experienced loud footsteps within this area.
Trigger objects –
Bible in Chiefs rooms
Glove on bed in chiefs room
Crucifix in attic
Babydoll in top bedroom and ball
No objects were moved.
Outside Chiefs room
Footsteps can be heard – no team members present
Male voice can be heard at various points on Dictaphone – the team cannot make out what voice is saying
Anna, Kim and Lisa were sitting quietly asking if it was ok for them to enter Chief’s room; an indiscernible male voice once again on Dictaphone
On asking out again, the team hear clear movement from within room. However, it is difficult to say if this is actually from room itself, or noise carried from other groups.
Strange noise – the team cannot confirm what this noise is. However, there was a party in a nearby house and the team cannot say for certain if this affected any Dictaphone recordings from night’s investigation.
In Chiefs room
A voice appears to be talking over Lisa
Someone clearly saying “maybe”
Knocking and footsteps
Strange howling noise – could be animal or noise from nearby party.
Anna, James, Kim and Lisa all witnessed strange flashing lights in attic and various taps and bangs. However, these sounds could be attributed to other team.
Anna and James both thought they saw a tall man at the end of attic during vigils.
The team feel they captured some interesting EVP and some strange personal experiences. However, the team would like to add that with a loud nearby party and other team present, is it difficult to say how this affected their findings. The team once again encountered phantom footsteps and various taps/bangs within attic space and Pink Room. The GPI feel this is an intriguing location, bursting full of history and certainly warrants another investigation.
The GPI would like to thank John Jack for allowing them access and also big thanks to Paranormal Discovery for allowing them to share this location.
Investigation Report – 31st of January – 2009
Castle Menzies is located west of Weem and has been the Seat of the Chiefs of Clan Menzies for over 400 years. From the fourteenth century the lands around Weem were part of the extensive possessions of the Chiefs of Clan Menzies and it was here in 1488 following the destruction by the fire of the Menzies stronghold, Comrie Castle, Sir Robert Menzies built a new mansion, the “Place of Weem”.
This new building however was soon to suffer a similar fate to the previous residence for in 1502, it was pillaged and burned by Neil Stewart of Garth. Subsequently a new castle, (older part of the present structure) was erected. Whether it was built on the remains or site of the earlier castle, as has been suggested is still uncertain, as is the exact date of construction.
In 1577 the upper storey and roof were altered and the distinctive series of dormers with their elaborate pediments then added. The date is carved on one of the dormers and it is recorded in the “Chronicle of Fortingall” – 1577 :
“Item – Thar symmyr the Castle of Weym was byggth and ended”.
The castle is considered an excellent example of an early mature Z-plan building, representing the transition between the older type of fortified tower-house and the later mansion designed for domestic rather than military purposes. There is little doubt, however that the castle was the first constructed chiefly for defence, as might be expected after the fate of its predecessor. The castle also benefits from its strategic situation on the level lands below the rick of Weem commanding the east-west highway of Strath Tay and the road to Rannoch. Even now it is still an imposing and dominating structure on the landscape and no doubt before 1577 it must have appeared more threatening when its purpose was probably more of a military nature.
However, any earlier expectations of more peaceful times were not to be realised and the strategic importance of the castle was made more evident in the later troubled history of the Central Highlands.
In 1644 the Chief, Sir Alexander Menzies of Menzies, declined to support the Royalist cause and harassed the forces of Montrose as they passed though Weem on their way to the Lowlands. In the 1715 Rebellion, Jacobite troops occupied the castle and in 1746, the family were ejected, leaving the castle to be manned by Duke of Cumberland’s troops. The latter occupation began four days after the Young Pretender, Prince Charles Edward Stuart, had rested for two nights at Castle Menzies on his march north with a detachment of his army from Stirling to Inverness.
In the early eighteenth century, the angle of the north tower and the main block was enclosed by a new set of apartments with a stairwell communicating with the new rooms and those of the main block and the north tower of the old building by openings in the north wall and north tower west wall. At the same time, a new entrance was made in the centre of the south wall of the main block and the vaulted chamber within modified to form a hall leading through to the new stair in the north wing. Extensive redecoration of the old castle occurred at this time. In 1840, a west wing followed closely the style of the original was constructed (architect William Burn) which communicated with (modified) eighteenth century additions.
Castle Menzies remained the seat of the Menzies of Weem until the death of the last of the main line of that family in 1918. It subsequently passed through various hands and was last used during the 1939-45 War as a Polish Army medical stores depot. It was acquired in a greatly dilapidated condition by the Menzies Clan Society in 1957. Surveys carried out in 1971-72 indicated an extensive infection of active dry-rot and the necessity for urgent action if the building were to be saved for the future.
Accordingly plans for a thorough restoration of the sixteenth century castle were prepared and an appeal for funds initiated. Aided by a grant from the Historic Buildings Council for Scotland, work on the first phase started in September 1972 and completed the following year. As a result the building is now open to the public.
Castle Menzies Map
LORRAINE, JAMES, LISA, CARLY, SCOTT, JACKIE, LINDA
There have been numerous accounts of paranormal activity in the Castle, ranging from footsteps from empty rooms, temperature fluctuations, knocks and voices. Investigations of the castle have resulted in unexplained phenomena such as Electric Voice Phenomena, unexplained noises, severe temperature fluctuations, objects moving on their own accord, strange smells appearing and people being touched. In a previous investigation, GPI encountered similar activity.
On entering Castle Menzies, we are welcomed by castle administrator Mr John Jack and a huge open log fire. After setting our equipment up in kitchen area, we decide to check baseline readings and have a walk around to see if there are hot spots with psychics Lorraine, Carly and Scott;
- All team agree that the there is a distinct contrast in atmosphere to previous investigation at Castle Menzies; team feel quite anxious beginning investigation.
- Lorraine senses strong presence in kitchen area and picks up on a large Irish wolfhound following us around but senses no threat from him. She also picks up a woman who keen to make contact with us.
- Lorraine also senses that a battle took place in the reception area just off the kitchen, which resulted in a death. She also felt the wrong person had been blamed for the death.
- “Cold Room” near kitchen; John Jack asks Lorraine if she senses anything about this area in particular. John walks through down middle of this small room with dowsing rods and they appear to move. Lorraine picks up on the spirit of a 23 year old woman whom she believes has been murdered and buried in this area. On closer inspection of the floor, one section appears to be hollow and Lorraine feels that there is a skeleton underneath. Carly mentioned the name Mary associated with this room and also felt the presence of a monk called Dominic.
- Room 19; all the team feel there is a definite unpleasant atmosphere about this room. Lorraine/Carly/Scott pick up on the spirit of an unpleasant man and warns us all to be careful during investigation. They describe him as being quite vicious and also describe a female in this room also, who is quite traumatised.
- Withdrawing Room (off of Pink Hall) – James felt quite dizzy and Jackie felt that she heard noises in Pink Room.
- Lorraine feels that there is a man called John wandering about castle who does not like us being here and for us to be on our guard.
- Large attic room; on a walk round the team feel they are being watched and Lorraine picks up on a presence at the far end of the hall. Lisa went over for more investigation with camcorder and Jackie took digital photo also. On reviewing photo, there appears to be a mist, but on closer inspection it could be a person with a skeletal face. The team are aware that due to the freezing temperatures in the castle that night, that it could be someone’s breath in the cold air.
- During walk round, the batteries for radios and cameras seem to drain, despite being replaced/charged prior to commencement of investigation.
JAMES –LARGE ATTIC ROOM
James enters large attic space with night vision camcorder and digital camera to complete a lone vigil. On asking out for some activity, James takes some digital photos and captures what seem to be orbs. During the vigil, James begins to feel very anxious and on edge as he begins to hear noises. He also notes that he can hear breathing at one point. The sound of jingling was also heard such as someone’s zipper and at this point James took digital photo which showed an orange orb. The video camera also seemed to be affected by going in and out of focus. Battery of digital cameras drained also.
During vigil, James felt that he could hear noises all around him but he put this down to bats. However, castle administrator John Jack advised that bats at this time would be in hibernation and he would be very surprised with the presence of any in the castle at this time of year. A stone was thrown just shortly after these noises and on picking the stone up, it was hot to the touch. With no one in the vicinity, this is something we cannot explain. The noises above James in the rafters persisted throughout vigil and he also thought he saw some shapes/shadows in room. A digital photograph taken at this point, showed a strange white mist rising from floor. The shuffling of feet and footsteps in hall were also heard.
James and Lisa returned to this area later and found no other activity.
James and Lisa – Room 19
On entering room, Lisa and James felt a very oppressive atmosphere. During baseline tests, all team members felt very uneasy in this room and Lorraine/Carly/Scott felt the presence of an unpleasant male and also of a woman. They felt a hotspot at the bottom of bed and the team felt this area hotter than actual temperature of room itself. Temperature readings showed no apparent change in this area of the room. This is something we could not explain.
Lisa then sat quietly on side of bed and a small bang was heard. On asking out for more taps/bangs, the room was silent. James and Lisa then move over to other side of bed and ask for more activity. James suggests that Lisa sits on bed again and on doing so, Lisa’s camera stops working. It appears out of focus with lots of static on viewfinder. It is still however, recording audio. Luckily James has brought his camcorder and they record rest of vigil with this. James then asks if it is the spirit in room that is affecting camcorder and asks for a bang in response to his questions; 1 bang for yes, 2 bangs for no.
“Are you angry?” – one bang
“Are you male?” – one bang
“If you would like us to leave, bang 3 times” – 3 bangs.
It is with this response that Lisa and James bring their vigil to a close and return to base, very shaken and scared. No one else was in that part of the castle and rest of team were in kitchen with John Jack.
Room 16 – Victorian Bedroom
On the initial walk round, the team enter this room and temperature gauge showed -42’C. The room is freezing; however this extreme temperature is not felt by the group. Orbs were also caught using digital camera. A leaflet on display case moved and although Lorraine was standing in front of it at this point, she was not standing close enough to move it in any way. Lorraine feels a spirit very close by and the team ask for some activity. James asks for one tap and there appears to be one tap in response. Some shuffling is also heard out on stairs. However, with no other activity the team move on to another room.
Top Bedroom – Lorraine, Linda and John Jack
During walk round, Lorraine had felt the room very sad and depressing. Lorraine felt a woman had lost a baby in this room and we all felt it would be a good room to investigate later. The team were puzzled to find a domino on the floor but John Jack thought this could have been left by another investigative team. Lorraine and Linda found no other activity in this room and moved onto another area. On reviewing Lorraine and Linda’s’ footage, two light anomalies were captured on camcorders moving across the room.
Room 15 – Jackie and Lisa
Earlier during walk round, the team heard footsteps/banging overhead. Jackie and Lisa returned for more investigation but found no other activity.
Withdrawing Room, off Pink Hall – Jackie and Lisa
On our walk round, Lorraine picked up on a presence of a man standing at door. Linda also felt as though someone was trying to push past her and the team agreed this was a good are for a trigger object. During Jackie and Lisa’s vigil, there was no other activity and on checking trigger object, it had not moved. They then moved into room next door and asked for more activity. A few minutes later, a cupboard door appeared to move back and forth. However, it is important to note that there was a high wind outside and the castle is very draughty. The cupboard door was closed over and did not move again. Although, this room appeared very quiet and flat to the team, this room produced the most EVP with whispers, sighs and groans. Footsteps and thuds were also recorded whilst no team member was present.
Kitchen – Ouija Board – Lorraine, James, Linda, Jackie
The team feel the temperature drop and Lorraine continues to ask for communication from spirits in castle. Small movements are felt and James asks if the spirit who was in room 19 is present; Lorraine then feels energy rushing forward and the team feel the stone very cold. Lorraine also notes that someone touching top of her head and then feels a woman called Jeanette come through. The stone begins to move to the groups surprise and moves to the word female. James asks for the first initial of their first name; the stone moves to the letter G. With no other movement or activity, the team bring their investigation to Castle Menzies to a close.
The team had Dictaphones in various areas in the castle; however seemed to capture majority of EVP in small room adjoining Pink Hall. The Dictaphone ran for just over 4 hours and the team’s whereabouts can be accounted for throughout the recording and any team members entering the room, announce their presence. At various points, there seems to be sighs and constant chattering. At one point, a voice appears to whisper “Walkout”. Footsteps and heavy thuds begin and end of their own accord when no team members are present. Examples of EVP captured can be seen on the DVD.
The team would like to thank John Jack for his assistance in making this investigation possible and making us feel very welcome.Castle Menzies is a fantastic and valuable piece of history. There have been countless sightings and experiences of paranormal activity over the years. During our vigils, there appears to be various incidents that could be attributed to paranormal activity such as auditory phenomenon and light anomalies. Possibly even poltergeist activity during James’ lone vigil with a stone being thrown. Amazing temperature fluctuations were recorded throughout the night also. However, these fluctuations could be attributed to draughts in such a huge castle and low winter temperatures. In saying this, due to the high volume of sightings and experiences, the team do feel that Castle Menzies warrants another investigation of such activity and would love to visit the castle again.