In the small riverside town of Bladnoch, Scotland, the town’s one road takes visitors close to the ivy-draped ruins of Baldoon Castle. The castle’s ruins are not the only ruined thing lingering in the area, there’s also the broken-hearted, and some say–mentally insane—ghost of young Janet Dalrymple. People report they sometimes see Janet drifting among the ruins in the nightgown she wore on her wedding night—the same gown that became covered in blood under mysterious circumstances that very night in 1669.
The eldest daughter of Sir James Dalrymple, First Viscount Stair, Janet, like so many of her peers, was forced by her parents into an arranged marriage. Many women her age willingly went to the altar to cement better family alliances, but Janet was already in love, and supposedly secretly betrothed, to the nearly penniless Archibald, Lord Rutherford. Faced with a loveless politically arranged marriage, Janet admitted her promise to Archibald. Her parents would not relent with their plans and finally, Janet was forced to tell Archibald she was to marry another.
At the kirk of Old Luce, not far from Carsecleugh Castle, Janet was accompanied by her two brothers to her wedding, and certain heartbreak. She was wed to David Dunbar, heir to Baldoon on a hot summer day.
The events leading to the haunting vary, depending on who told the tale. Some supporters of Dunbar felt certain Janet simply went insane with her disappointment and viciously stabbed her husband as there was no one closer at hand to blame for the fact she’d never be with her love, Archibald. Others claimed Archibald himself was concealed in the bridal chamber and stabbed the bridegroom—narrowly escaping through the window and into the garden as Dunbar lay bleeding. Yet a third version of the tale claims David wounded Janet, and he is found to be insane. Locals sometimes add additional spice to the story by claiming it was the Devil himself who attacked David Dunbar and tormented Janet until she lost her mind.
Regardless of what version of the tale you choose to believe, in the end, hearing shrieks and terrible wails, the door to the bridal chamber was broken down and Janet and David were both found—him stretched near the threshold, her in a corner–both bloody. David recovered from his wound and never talked about that night to anyone. He later remarried. Janet was not so fortunate to have another chance at love or marriage.
She died on September 12, 1669. She never spoke about the events of that night, either, and was considered by many to have utterly lost her mind.
Her story was later immortalized by the talented Sir Walter Scott in his “The Bride of Lammermoor.” People still claim her ghost can be seen on some hot summer nights, but most often she can be viewed on the anniversary of her death.