Britain has a long and often dark history, with our ancient landscapes and buildings telling the tales of our ancestors.
From ancient castles to haunted hills and spooky inns, here is our guide to the most haunted places in the UK, with a look at the history behind each myth and legend, plus discover the most haunted place in Britain.
Britain’s most haunted churches
Whitby Abbey and St Mary’s Church, North Yorkshire
A cold wind blows in the fishing village of Whitby. Said to be home to over twelve different sinister specters, this town is not for the faint hearted. Dare you look into the Abbeys well at midnight?
If your heart is pure, the face of St Hilda will appear in the water, but if not beware for the Devil will take you away with him. St Mary’s Church presides on the top of the cliff in the shadow of the Abbey; a phantom hearse with four headless horses and a headless driver can be seen to stop in front of the church then race along the cliff before plunging over the edge into the sea. These gothic structures once the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula stand forebodingly over the town.
Discover the mysteries of Whitby Abbey…if you dare! Credit: Getty
Blythburgh church, Suffolk
A huge black hellhound, known as the Old Shuck of Suffolk with burning red eyes prowls the lanes of Suffolk, he is particularly associated with thunderstorms, rivers and fen. During a storm in 1577, he appeared in Bungay and Blythburgh churches, killing three parishioners in each and leaving a scorch mark on the door of Blythburgh.
Holy Trinity Church or otherwise known as the Cathedral of the Marshes in Blythburg, Suffolk captured with a moonrise./Getty Images
Llanthony Priory, Vale of Ewyas
A Benedictine monk has supposedly been seen on the narrow road near Capel-y-Ffin, which is a couple of miles north of Llanthony and another at ruined Llanthony Priory upstream. Tales of apparitions of the Virgin Mary close to the village of Powys were also reported in 1880. There’s no shortage of apparitions between this tiny village and the Skirrid Mountain Inn at Llanvihangel Crucorney.
Llanthony Priory, Vale of Ewyas, Brecon Beacons, Near Abergavenny, Wales/Credit: Getty Images
Britain’s most haunted hills and landscapes
Pendle Hill, Lancashire
If witchcraft and wizardry is where your interests lie, then look no further for the most famous witches in Britain. Keen walkers can brave the trail left behind by the Pendle witches through the beautifully sombre Lancashire countryside of the Pendle hills to their site of execution. They are said to still roam the hills and nearby village, so keep your eyes peeled for any magical activity or ghostly manifestations.
A view of Pendle Hill/Credit: Getty
Penwith is, at its heart, a wild and isolated moorland even at the peak of summer but, like many uplands, it reserves its most macabre and spine-tingling moments for autumn. The days diminish as the season takes hold, traffic on the roads subsides and memories of sun-beaten high days and holidays ebb as the moor returns to the wild once again.
A ruined chapel looks out over the sea at Cape Cornwall near St Just on Cornwall’s north coast. (Getty)
Much of Penwith is a funerary landscape, dotted with tumuli, cairns and cromlechs (or quoits as they are known in Cornwall), and many of these and other Neolithic and Bronze Age features have long been attributed to the fairies. Not gossamer-winged, twinkle-eyed Tinkerbells with a winning smile, but dangerous supernatural entities – piskies or pixies – that were to be avoided at all costs.
Where is the most haunted place in Britain?
Autumn is the season of the supernatural but just where is the spookiest place in Britain? Veteran explorer of our lost byways Ian Vince gives his verdict…
Ding Dong, Woon Gumpus, Boscawen-un, Zennor, Madron and Mulfra; even the place names of west Penwith, on the far toe of Cornwall, can sound like the syllables of a mumbled arcane rite. The climate and landscape add their own low murmur; when the mist billows in from the Atlantic over rounded granite tors and lonely menhirs, it muffles almost every sensation, leaving only the mind’s eye racing to fill the void and animate the silhouettes.
Could this stretch of the Cornish coast be the most haunted place in Britain?
Isle of Iona, Hebrides
The last resting place of 48 Scottish kings, Iona has a long history and is a significant spiritual centre. Attacked by the Vikings, apparitions of longboats have been reported sailing into the harbour at night.
Iona Abbey is located on the Isle of Iona, just off the Isle of Mull on the West Coast of Scotland. It is one of the oldest and most important religious centres in Western Europe./Credit:GetTY images
The Battle of Edgehill, Warwickshire
A thousand troops died in the first large battle of the English Civil War, between Banbury and Stratford-Upon-Avon on 23 October 1642. For months after, witnesses reported seeing phantom battles in the skies. Today, screams, the thunder of hooves and the chink of armour are still heard.
Panoramic view overlooking the location of the Battle of Edgehill as a summer storm rolls across the Cotswolds./Credit: Getty Images
Britain’s most haunted pubs and inns
Ram Inn, Gloucestershire
For a truly haunting experience, Ram Inn is the place to visit. With guided ghost hunts throughout the year, the building is sure to surprise and terrify. Built on the intersection of two ley lines that can be traced all the way to Stonehenge, this decrepit old building is rife with paranormal activity.
The legend goes that Stonehenge has energy, which travels through the ley lines to feed the supernatural power found in the ancient Inn. The complex history is rife with tales of burning witches, monks, a Centurian on horseback, real evidence of Devil worship and ritual sacrifice and even rumour that a pagan burial site resided in that exact location over 5,000 years ago. Not recommended for children, this one is only for the truly brave among you.
The ancient Ram Inn in Gloucester is reputed to be one of the most haunted buildings in England (Photo by: Ray Bird via Geograph)
Jamaica Inn, Cornwall
Infamous for its smuggler and pirate regulars, this haunted Inn is home to many spectoral sights and sounds. Investigations have repeatedly been made into the sound of footsteps in the Smugglers Bar, possibly of a man murdered and left on the moors, returning for the last half of his pint of ale. Have lunch, a drink or if you dare, even stay the night in one of the haunted rooms and see what you come across. If your interest lies in the history of the Inn and the scurvy sea dogs that haunt it, make sure to visit the museum.
Jamaica Inn @Getty
The Skirrid Inn, Monmouthshire
In the wilds of Monmouthshire, the Skirrid Inn went one better, serving as both courthouse and place of execution. Visit the gloriously ancient pub today – it’s said to be the oldest in Wales – and you can see the oak beam from which more than 200 malefactors were hanged. And just in case that’s not macabre enough for guests, a noose still swings from it. Unsurprisingly, the place is reputedly teeming with the ghosts of the violently departed.
Skirrid Mountain Inn, the oldest – and most haunted – pub in Wales/Credit: Getty Images
Britain’s most haunted historic sites
South Bridge Vaults, Edinburgh
A lost city under the South Bridge in old Edinburgh, the locals believed it was cursed from the start because the first person to cross the bridge was carried over in a coffin. Once thriving and full of life, houses, shops and Inns, the city became dank and derrelict over the years. Take a walk down Damnation Alley, where the malicious presence of the South Bridge Entity has been seen lurking. When the vaults were abandoned, criminals, body snatchers and witches moved in, so take a tour and hear the tales of gore and witness an authentic witchcraft temple.
South Bridge Vaults/Credit: Lonely Planet/Getty
The Tower of London, London
For those who prefer their spectors a tad more regal, a trip to The Tower of London is a must. Royal and noble ghosts are said to roam the towers where they died. Try and spot the rare ghost of a grizzly bear that is said to have appeared years ago by the Martin Tower, scaring a guard to his untimely death. As you tread the staircase of The Bloody Tower be careful not to walk straight through the ethereal spirits of the two Princes as they glide down the staircase in the same white nightshirts they were murdered in. An interactive experience that can be enjoyed by all the family with exhibitions and activities for all ages.
The central tower of the Tower of London was built in the 11th century (Photo by: Will Brasil 21 via Getty Images)
Glasgow Necropolis, Glasgow
Although roaming around a graveyard is not everybody’s first choice of recreational activity, this one is not to be missed. Glasgow’s interdenominational burial site is spread over 35 acres of land and is nicknamed The City of the Dead. In the 1950’s an urban myth spread quickly through the surrounding villages of a vampire with iron teeth, ans local children came in the hundreds to patrol the area in search of the beast. For those braving the graveyard at night, perchance you’ll see the ghostly white lady seen floating through the cemetery in the late hours.
Glasgow Necropolis @Getty
Britain’s most haunted castles
Muncaster Castle, Cumbria
For some real life trick-or-treating join Tom Fool, the jester of Muncaster Castle, who roam the hallways in search of people to play tricks on, and explore the gruesome past that lead him to be trapped in purgatory. Or perhaps you would prefer to stay overnight in the tapestry room and hear for yourself the cries of the sick children in the old nursery and soothing sounds of infamous singing woman.
Muncaster Castle @Getty
Chillingham Castle, Northumberland
The aptly named Chillingham Castle is rumoured to be one of the most haunted castles in Britain. Presided over by an array of spectres, this historic building is a must. Watch out for the white pantry ghost, military spirits, floating orbs and lights and much more. Visitors have reported feeling friendly invisible hands taking their own and many recount experiences as unfrightening. For the intrigued but nervous, this handsome castle is a great place to start your ghost hunting.
Chillingham Castle, Northumberland, credit Getty