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  • Writer's pictureGreg Stewart

The Poltergeist of Galdenoch Tower, Dumfries and Galloway

Galdenoch Tower sits approximately seven miles northwest of the town of Stranraer, within the grounds of a working farm. The 'L-plan' tower was constructed for a local man named Gilbert Agnew sometime between 1547 and 1570. As was customary with most buildings during this tumultuous period, it boasted thick stone walls to provide protection to its inhabitants. Offering modest accommodation, it consisted of just three storeys and an attic, each level accessible via a turnpike stair. The uppermost section of the tower displayed a touch of extravagance, featuring fine stone finishing that was uncommon for the era. Now a roofless ruin, the exact date of the tower's abandonment remains unclear, though it is believed to have occurred in the 18th century after the castle and estate had been passed to the main branch of the family and was no longer in use.

The ghost story linked to this property originates from the reign of King Charles I. Scotland had undergone the religious Reformation during the latter part of the 16th century, followed by the unification of the monarchies of England and Scotland under King James I and VI in the early 17th century. This era was characterized by both political and religious uncertainty and unrest, marked by fierce opposition to the changes resulting from the union. Upon James's death in 1625, his son, Charles, ascended to the throne. Charles would go on to become a deeply unpopular ruler, eventually leading the nation into religious and civil conflict.

One of King Charles's attempted actions was to enforce changes upon the Church of Scotland without consulting either the church hierarchy or the Scottish Parliament. In 1638, a group of Scottish Presbyterians signed the National Covenant at Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh. This document was a response to the reforms the King was seeking to impose upon the Church. By signing the National Covenant, individuals committed themselves to defending Scotland's religious practices, a direct challenge to Charles's authority. In response, Charles attempted to enforce these changes through military means, leading to the Bishop's War in 1639.

Members of the Agnew family were supporters of the Covenant. After a battle against Royalist forces, one Agnew found himself attempting to return to the castle. Exhausted, he sought refuge and rest at a farm cottage. The homeowner kindly welcomed him, providing nourishment and a room for him to rest. The next morning, Agnew discovered that the homeowner had blocked his exit. It was then revealed that the homeowner was, in fact, a supporter of the Royalists. Having learned about the battle, he questioned Agnew about his allegiance. Fearing capture by the King's army, Agnew drew his pistol and shot the host before making his escape and eventually reaching Galdenoch.

Once safely back home, Agnew retired for the night. However, he was soon disturbed by the sounds of a man muttering and laughing. He immediately recognized the voice as that of the man he had shot earlier that morning. Fearing that the man had survived and trailed him to the tower, Agnew leapt from his bed, only to find himself alone. Each time he attempted to sleep, the distinctive voice of the murdered man haunted him. He eventually attributed these experiences to the trauma of having killed a man who had shown him kindness.

The subsequent day brought the discovery that the entire household had been kept awake throughout the night by the same voice. Apprehensions of dealing with something otherworldly grew. The disturbances continued over the following nights, with the spirit's activities becoming increasingly violent—moving furniture and hurling objects across rooms. After enduring months of sleepless nights and unrelenting terror, the family eventually left the tower, allowing new tenants to take residence.

However, the ghostly occurrences did not cease; instead, they tormented the new family with escalating intensity. In one particularly unsettling incident, the tenant's mother failed to join the family for dinner. When the children inquired about her whereabouts, the phantom voice announced that it had bathed her and left her to dry. The children fled from the house and discovered the elderly woman lying beside the stream outside the building. She was drenched and on the brink of succumbing to the cold and her fright.

This marked the breaking point for the family, leading them to seek assistance from the church. Several ministers visited the property in an attempt to banish the spirit. However, all their efforts were in vain, as the ghostly voice persistently interrupted and mocked their attempts to preach. Eventually, a new minister arrived in the area, offering his help. Gathering a small congregation at Galdenoch, they commenced a singing ritual. Before long, the disembodied voice joined in, growing louder until it overpowered the others. Showing remarkable insight, the minister sang even louder, prevailing over the spirit. The spirit attempted to outmatch the minister, yet each time it neared success, the minister managed to elevate his pitch. At the stroke of midnight, the ghost exclaimed, "Roar away, as I can roar no more," seen as an admission of defeat. The minister continued singing until he was certain the spirit had fallen silent. Evidently, the ghost kept its promise and never again troubled the family.

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