Evil Laird Pringle and the Haunting of Buckholm Tower

Ladhope Moor near to Buckholm

Ladhope Moor near to Buckholm

One evening in the 1680s, as the light was starting to fade and the colour of day drained away turning eveything to grey an ominous dark character can be seen striding over Ladhope Moor with two large dogs. He is seeking covenanters whom he is sure are holiding an assembly meeting somewhere nearby. His shiny black eyes search for tracks as he listens for signs as to where they are hiding. He knows they are there somewhere it’s just a matter of time before he finds them.

He is the renowned  Laird Pringle of Buckholm Tower, an ardent Royalist, hater and torturer of covenanters.

His hunch as usual was correct and he finds evidence that this was indeed the spot which the covenanters had used. But  it was deserted. They had recently, and in some rush, fled the scene; obviously they had be warned that he was closing in on them. Nearby Pringle spots the body of a man lying hurt on the ground , he recognises him straight away, it’s George Elliot, the well-known covenanter. He had been injured after being thrown from his horse.  With him is his son William, who had stayed to look after him. Their faces full of fear watching helplessly as Pringle and his growling dogs approach.

Buckholm Tower, Galashiels

Buckholm Tower, Galashiels

Pringle was ordered not to kill the men  on the spot but to take then captive overnight so they could be interrogated the next day.  Pringle was furious with this descision.  The pair were locked in the cellar of Buckholm. Later that night Pringle was roaring drunk and seething with anger at being made to do this. He wanted their blood, the kill should be his. His rage grew till he decided to take matters into his own hands and stormed the cellars. Pitch dark down the cellar – servants gathered upstairs peering  into it to see what all the noise was hearing scuffling, then sreaming, then nothing …. silence.

Meanwhile the wife and mother of the prisoners – Isobel Elliot had arrived at Buckholm demanding to see the men and make sure they were being treated fairly. She knew of Laird Pringle’s blood lust and feared for their safety.

The Laird still covered in the blood of Geordie and William sees her approaching. He desperately wants her to witness the aftermath of his savagery, see what he’s done. He jumps out and drags her down the cellar. In a small pool of light the lifeless bodies of her husband and son hang from meat hooks. Their flesh torn and their bodies beaten to a bloody pulp.

The cellar at Buckholm Tower

The cellar at Buckholm Tower

During the nights before the first anniversary of his death, the laird’s ghost was seen running towards the tower, with the baying cries of the hounds reverberating behind him. And on the night that he died and every June thereafter, cries and running footsteps were reported to be heard, not outside the tower, but from the depths of the cellar. Had his terrible deeds finally caught up with him?

In nearby Melrose Abbey graveyard stands a stone bearing the name George Pringle, aged 78 years.

The date of death on the headstone reads 5 March 1693, making it possible that this is the laird in question’s grave.

Buckholm Tower today is largely ruined, though the best preserved room is the cellar, where the iron hooks featured in the story can still be seen.

In 2005, paranormal research team Spectre carried out three investigations at Buckholm Tower. The team reported temperature changes, the sound of footsteps and recorded video footage of the iron hooks moving. They also claim to have taken an audio recording of an indistinct voice, and when they asked whether laird Pringle was present, the voice is believed to have said: “I had to” or “I hate you”.

Orb photographed

Orb photographed

Buckholm Tower remains a favourite among ghost hunters, many are convinced that something evil lurks in the remains of the tower’s cellar, even claiming that if you look closely you may see faint blood stains on the wall. Maybe the spilled blood of Geordie and William?


About Amanda Moffet

I run www.scotclans.com with Rodger Moffet. Live in Edinburgh and love travelling around Scotland gathering stories.

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One thought on “Evil Laird Pringle and the Haunting of Buckholm Tower

  1. The MacBryde

    I am glad someone else has pointed out the connection with George Pringle! The name James is given by most storytellers (probably because it was the most common name for the Hoppringles/Pringles) but George was a better fit, due to the various offices he had and the fact he was active during the period of extreme repression of covenanters, duing the Restoration of monarchy following the return of King Charles II. He was also sued by his son (who was actually called James) which might fit with the idea of his cruelty to his wife and son.


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