Jist ootside Methlick lies the ruins o Gight Castle. Ers spectacular waaking routes aroon Gight an along the River Ythan. The waak is part o the Scottish Wildlife Trusts Gight Woods Reserve so ers plinty to tak in. Like all castle’s ers a story; es een his plinty.
Thomas the Rhymer was a 13th century Scottish Laird and a reputed prophet. He prophesied “at Gight three men by sudden death shall dee, And after that the land shall lie in lea.”
Es castle wis built by the Gordon family aroon 1479. It’s a crumbling ruin noo adays an the author of “Grampian: the castle county” Cuthbert Graham described it as being associated ‘from first to last’ with a race whose story was ‘ crowded with murder and sudden death.’ It wis built we defence in mind being set up above the banks an cliffs o the River Ythan. It resembled Dalgetie Castle and may have been commissioned by the same architect. Unlike Dalgetie, it hisna survived.
Approaching Gight Castle from the Braes o Gight
One o the legends surrounding the castle is the legend o the Hagberry Pot. According to legend it’s bottomless ( infact only 12ft deep) bit back in the day with rivers being full of foulness an manky water yi probably couldna see the bottom like yi can iday. In 1644 the castle was under siege by the Covenanters and so the 7th Laird threw all his gold, silver and jewels into the Hagberry Pot to save the Covenanters from stealing athin. Once the castle and area wis safe the laird sent a diver doon to recover his riches. Fan he surfaced clearly shaken an terrified he said the devil himself was guarding the treasure. According to the story, the laird tortured the diver after he refused to go back into the pool of water. After his punishment, the diver said ‘I’d rather face the diel (devil) himself than face the laird of Gight.’ He went back into the pool and moments later his quartered body returned to the surface and his beating heart on show. Apparently the treasure still lies at the bottom of the Hagberry Pot, guarded by the devil.
I’m sure the story of the Hagberry Pot his been embellished over the years but the castle has a long and bleak reputation for members of the Gordon family haeing untimely and violent endings. They are said to have dabbled in witchcraft, wizardry and dark arts so much so that devil himself still visits the castle and the grounds.
The castle is the ancestral home of romantic poet ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know ‘ Lord Byron. The property became his inheritance after he was born to the 14th laird known widely as Captain ‘Mad Foulweather Jack’ Byron and Catherine Gordon. Mad Jack wis a conspicuous gambler and he squandered his wifes fortune then deserted her. She had to sell Gight in 1787 to pay his debts. Catherine and the young lord lived in rented properties in Aberdeens Broad Street before heading off to fame and fortune. Legend his it he was a member of the Hellfire Club. Captain Mad Jack died in 1791 ages 35 in Valenciennes Spain. Lord Byron told his chums he cut his own throat whilst blind drunk but that may be farfetched.
In 1787 the land and castle was bought by George Gordon, 3rd Earl of Aberdeen. He was known as ‘The Wicked Earl’. His nickname was due to his exploitation of his tenantry through 19 year leases as well as his private life – he had many children by at least 3 mistresses. In 1791 the same year mad Jack met his end, The Wicked Earl fell fae his horse on the Green of Gight and died instantly.
Legend has it the Wicked Earl fell near here
Gight Castle was abandoned after this. A couple years later, a servant on a nearby farm mentioned that the prophecy of Thomas the Rhymer hidna come true…bit less than an hour later a wall fae a hoose being demolished afore being turned into lea fell on him crushing him to death, thereby fulfilling the prophecy.
Ofcourse, it widna be a Scottish castle ghost story withoot the ‘secret passage and the Piper disappearing never to be seen again.’ However Gight Castle has that very story and apparantley his pipes can still be heard in and around the ruins. The notion of the tunnel received a boost when a subterranean passage was uncovered in 1869 near Little Gight. Sadly for the legend it turned out to be an Iron Age Souterrain.
Enter the castle at your own peril…!