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>No Escape<

'Over one hundred and sixty men, women and children were kept in the dark dungeon, fed on diet of rotten meat, raw fish and salt water . . . they huddled together for warmth, their skeletal bodies clothed in rags.'
This was an eye-witness account of the brutal imprisonment of a huge number of anti-Royalist Covenanters and their families, who were held at Dunnottar Castle in 1685 by their enemies. Many died of starvation, others when trying to escape at night down the steep cliffs, and some under torture for their fanatical religious and political beliefs. This dark cellar can still be seen today and is known as the Whig's Vault. It is no wonder that this catle in its wild setting on the North Sea, constantly battered by the elements, has a legacy of restless spirits from its violent past.
The castle isolated position on a huge sandstone rock that towers above the savage coastline would seem to have been impregnable, but it was captured several times and in 1297 William Wallace's Scottish army besieged and destroyed it, burning alive the English garrison in the church. Whether it is their screams and cries that are said to emanate from the rock at night, or those of pitiful Covenanters, is not known.
The fortress covers four acres and resembled a small village. The many buildings included a barracks, chapel, stables, a priest's house and even an ancient graveyard. The entrance to the castle is through the impressive gatehouse, but there is also a tunnel and steps cut into the rock itself that once gave secret access to the castle. It is near here that the ghostly figure of a man has been seen. He is tall, dressed in archaic military uniform, and he appears to be staring out to sea, as if watching for someone or something.
In 1651, when the Royalist army was close to defeat, Dunnottar was thought to be the strongest and safest location in the land to hide the Scottish crown jewels and other royal treasures from the advancing English army of Oliver Cromwell. In due course the castle was besieged and it became obvious that the hoard must be smuggled out of the fortress before it was captured, to await the King's future restorasion. There are several versions of how this dangerous feat was accomplished, but the most widely believed was that the jewels were lowered by rope down the cliff side in the dead of night and hidden under the skirts of a servant girl, who then buried them beneath the floor of a nearby church. There are those who say that some of this treasure is still hidden near the castle.

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