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Holyrood Palace
Holyrood Palace
Image © roger4336
Creative Commons

Holyrood Ghosts

Holyrood was the scene of plots, jealousy and revenge long before the modern politicians moved in to the area. The most famous tale concerns Holyrood Palace and is eerily reminiscent of Shakespeare's Scottish play, which for obvious reasons I don't wish to name. It also involves one of Scotland's most famous historical figures and a ghost.

Mary Queen of Scots

Mary Queen of Scots ascended to the Scottish throne in 1542. As a young woman she grew to favour an Italian man, one David Rizzio, who was her private secretary.

Mary's husband, Lord Darnley, became jealous of Mary's friendship with Rizzio. Political enemies of Mary were able to play on this jealousy and managed to persuade Darnley that Mary and Rizzio had become lovers.

As a result the jealous Darnley and accomplices plotted to dispose of Rizzio. A group of them burst into Mary's private apartment in the Palace of Holyrood and stabbed the young man to death.

Darnley himself died a year later when a massive explosion destroyed his lodgings. It was never clear who instigated the killing, however many people blamed Mary and suggested that revenge for the death of Rizzio might have been a motive. Many people have also blamed James Hepburn, fourth Earl of Bothwell.

Supernatural Echoes

The bloodstains on the floor where Rizzio had been killed could not be permamently removed, however hard the palace servants scrubbed. They would always reappear overnight, a supernatural reminder of the foul deed that had taken place in that room.

As for Darnley himself, his ghost was frequently seen in the years after his death, usually haunting his in the palace. He was never seen in the light but always skulking in the shadows as if ashamed of his foolish actions.