At first glance, Chillingham Castle, looks like something right out of a fairytale, but the reality of Chillinham’s bloody history is anything but. Unless, of course, your idea of a fairytale includes gruesome tortures, mass murder of children, and the violent ghosts of people burned alive.
Built in the 12th century in the northern part of Northumberland, England, Chillingham was originally intended to be a monastery, but since 1246 the infamous castle has been owned by the same continuous bloodline, and not all of them were very nice. It was the distinguished Grey family who scooped up the surrounding forest and palace, and while renovating the massive building, added a dungeon and torture chamber or two.
For a time, the castle was the first line of defense against invading Scots making their way across the border on William Wallace’s orders. That’s where the dungeons came in. Quite often, prisoners were sealed up and interrogated in the deepest darkest holes of the castle, and more often than not, were subjected to terrible tortures. Men would have their arms and legs broken before being tossed down through a trap door, falling twenty feet into the dungeon below.
The horrors of Chillingham Castle’s dungeons are a thing of legend. Many of the Scottish prisoners who were trapped in the dungeon were so starved that they resorted to eating the dead. The most desperate even resorted to eating their own flesh. The walls of the dungeon are still covered with marking from prisoners keeping track of the the time they spent imprisoned, with a few even keeping short diaries that are still etched into the walls to this day.
The torture chamber, which was built with a narrow sloping floor in order to drain the blood away easily, was for a time, run by a man named John Sage, who was the very embodiment evil. It’s estimated that thousands of Scots died at the hands of Sage and his torture chamber straight from hell.
Sage, who had been one of the King Edward’s best men in battle, absolutely hated the Scots, and after an injury left him too wounded to fight, he was relocated to Chillingham to serve as the official castle torturer. To say that he loved his job would be a serious understatement. Sage was equipped with every imaginable torture device that he could dream of, many of which can still be found inside the castle to this day. Iron maidens, racks, and cages where prisoners would be left to the rats were just a few of the hellish contraptions used to pry information out of the Scottish prisoners.
It’s believed that Sage tortured somewhere around fifty people a week for well over three years.
When the war began to com to an end, Sage devised his most diabolical plan in order to empty the dungeons of the men, women, and children still held capture. The children were taken to the Edward room where they watched as their mothers and fathers were rounded up and led to the courtyard. Once there, Sage’s men burned the group alive as their children watched on from the windows above. Sage himself slaughtered the children with an axe, which is still on display today above the one of Chillingham Castle’s stairwells.
John Sage met his overdue demise in the courtyard of Chillingham Castle at the hands of a tribal leader whose daughter he had killed. Sage was strung up and mutilated, with local villagers cutting off his nose, testicles, and toes as souvenirs. He was left to die from his injuries as the crowd watched on, occasionally taking a piece of him for their own morbid collection.
Throughout Chillingham Castle’s years of restoration, countless bodies have been discovered hidden in various hidden rooms, crawlspaces, and behind brick walls. Perhaps most notable of the discoveries where the skeletons of a man and child found hiding in a small underground vault. No one knows who they are, or why they were hiding in the tiny stone vault in the first place.
It goes without saying that a castle with this much terror and tragedy is bound to be haunted, and on the search for ghosts, Chillingham Castle certainly doesn’t disappoint. The amount of paranormal experiences people have reported during their visits to the castle are staggering, and it seems there is not a square inch of the property that isn’t touched by a haunting.
The Edward room, or the Killing Room as it’s also known, is where guests often feel overwhelming sadness as the pungent odor of human blood fills their nostrils. When you consider that this was the very place where children watched their parents being burned alive, only to meet their own tragic ends by way of an axe, its not surprising to learn that many visitors to the Edward Room leave quite upset.
One of the castle’s most famous ghosts is also one of its most tragic. Nicknamed the “Blue Boy”, he’s believed to be the spirit of a young child was found bricked up alive along with some documents and a few scraps of blue clothing. The bones of his fingers had been worn away to the nubs, evidence that he had attempted to scratch his way out of his tomb. He is often seen in the Pink Room, where his body was discovered.
Visitors to Chillingham Castle have reported having their hair pulled, arms scratched, and even being bitten by unseen jaws in the darkness. Add these first-hand accounts to the hundreds of strange photos and audio recordings to have been captured inside the stone fortress, and its no wonder that Chillingham Castle is said to be the most haunted castle in the world.
Chillingham Castle was was hell on earth, and many of the souls who lost their lives so violently and traumatically have continued to play out their final moments over and over again. It seems as if the castle itself is acting a massive trigger object, linking the ghosts of the dead from the past to future, forcing us to remember the atrocities that happened behind the cold, stone walls of Chillingham.