Ghost of Spedlin's Tower

Spedlin's Tower, which stands on the south-west bank of the Annan, in Dumfriesshire, is the scene of one of the best accredited most curious ghost stories. The story is as follows:

"Sir Alexander Jardine, of Applegarth, in the time of Charles II., had confined in the dungeon of his tower of Spedlin's, a miller named Porteous, suspected of having wilfully set fire to his own premises. Sir Alexander being soon after suddenly called away to Edinburgh, carried the key of the vault with him, and did not recollect or consider his prisoner's case till he was passing through the West Port, where, perhaps, the sight of the warder's keys brought the matter to his mind. He immediately sent back a courier to liberate the man, but Porteous had, in the meantime, died of hunger.

"No sooner was he dead, than his ghost began to torment the household, and no rest was to be had within Spedlin's Tower by day or by night. In this dilemma, Sir Alexander, according to old use and wont, summoned a whole legion of ministers to his aid; and by their strenuous efforts, Porteous was at length confined to the scene of his mortal agonies, where, however, he continued to scream occasionally at night, 'Let me out, let me out, for I'm deein' o' hunger!' He also used to flutter against the door of the vault, and was always sure to remove the bark from any twig that was sportively thrust through the key-hole. The spell which thus compelled the spirit to remain in bondage was attached to a large black-lettered Bible, used by the exorcists, and afterwards deposited in a stone niche, which still remains in the wall of the staircase; and it is certain that, after the lapse of many years, when the family repaired to a newer mansion (Jardine Hall), built on the other side of the river, the Bible was left behind, to keep the restless spirit in order. On one occasion, indeed, the volume requiring to be rebound, was sent to Edinburgh; but the ghost, getting out of the dungeon, and crossing the river, made such a disturbance in the new house, hauling the baronet and his lady out of bed, &c., that the Bible was recalled before it reached Edinburgh, and placed in its former situation.

The good woman who told Grose this story in 1788, declared that should the Bible again be taken off the premises, no consideration whatever should induce her to remain there a single night. But the charm seems to be now broken, or the ghost must have become either quiet or disregarded, for the Bible is at present kept at Jardine Hall."



  • Omens and Superstitions: Curious facts and illustrative sketches. (1868). Edinburgh: William P. Nimmo, pp. 78-79.