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The Many Ghosts of Dragsholm Castle, Denmark

Since moving to Denmark I’ve naturally become interested in its paranormal history. While I could easily write a full-length book on the history of Danish hauntings, I thought I would write a short blog about one of the more famous cases.

SOURCE – Dragsholm Castle in 1896

Dragsholm Castle on Nekselø Bay in Zealand was built around 1200 and has attracted all sorts of mediums and paranormal investigators over the years. While there have been lots of claims about different ghostly apparitions residing in the castle, there are four “active spirits” to be consistently identified during investigations.

SOURCE – Dragsholm Castle today

The Bishop of Roskilde Joachim Rønnow is said to be one of those ghosts to haunt Dragsholm Castle. Rønnow was the last Catholic bishop at Roskilde, but lost everything during the Protestant Reformation. He was imprisoned by the Danish King and held at Dragsholm, where he was confined to a room on the second floor. He eventually passed away there. Since his death, guests to the castle who are unfortunate enough to be assigned his former living space are said to be awoken at night by the sounds of walling and moaning.

SOURCE – The Bishop of Roskilde being protected by Hans Tausen in 1533 against an angry mob

Another ghost to be routinely spotted at Dragholm Castle is Celina Bovles, also known as the White Lady. Hers is a tragic story. Born into a wealthy Danish aristocratic family, Bovles was betrothed to the eldest son of another noble family. As the story goes, the young Bovles fell in love with a commoner who worked at the castle. When her father found out, he was extremely unhappy but agreed to a compromise that Bovles could continue to see her lover until she was married. Unfortunately, things went awry when she became pregnant before the wedding. Enraged, her father had her imprisoned at Dragsholm and chained to a wall in the basement. He then had a wall built around her where she was left to die. Pretty horrific! Years later in the 1930s the story seemed to be corroborated by physical evidence when contractors modernising the plumbing in the building found the skeletal remains of a woman in the basement’s walls. Nowadays there are reports of a lady in white who is regularly seen roaming the halls and crying over her lost lover.

SOURCE – Engraving of Edward Kelley invoking a spirit of a white lady.

There is another female spirit that is said to haunt Dragsholm Castle. She is usually referred to as the Grey Lady. Her story is equally sad. Once a servant to the castle’s lord, the Grey Lady became ill one day with a toothache. She sought help from her master, who provided some medicine to ease the pain. After the soreness went away and the Grey Lady seemed to be recuperating, she soon fell ill again and passed away. Today her spirit supposedly continues to walk around the castle in an effort to thank her former master for the medicine.

The last ghost to supposedly haunt Dragsholm Castle is James Hepburn, the Earl of Bothwell. Known throughout his life as a philanderer, most of his relationships ended in scandal. The one-time lover of Mary Stuart, Hepburn found himself in a whole heap of trouble when he accidentally encountered his first wife Anna Throndsen while on the run in Norway. Theirs was an unhappy marriage, and Hepburn’s mishandling of their money nearly left them bankrupt. He forced Throndsen to sell most of her belongings before eventually running off. When the two met again later in life, Throndsen brought a legal case against Hepburn for the restitution of her dowry. He was eventually imprisoned by the Danish King at Dragsholm Castle. The living conditions were harsh and Hepburn died there at the age of 44. The ghost of Hepburn is said to be quite restless, and often sighted around the castle’s grounds. Some witnesses even claim to have seen Hepburn’s ghost riding a horse-drawn carriage through the courtyard.

SOURCE – Portrait of James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell

So, there you have it. These are the four main ghosts of Dragsholm Castle in Denmark. If you are interested in a supernatural experience, you can rent a room there, which includes the former cell of Rønnow. I definitely need to get a team together and film this place at night to see what we can (or can't) uncover!

Further Readings

Bob Curran, The World's Creepiest Places, (Red Wheel, 2011)

Daniel Hardie, Haunted Castles: Ghosts from History, (Lulu Press, 2015)

Jacqueline Morley, Castles, A Very Peculiar History, (Andrews Uk Limited, 2012)

Maureen Wood and Ron Kolek, A Ghost a Day: 365 True Tales of the Spectral, Supernatural, and...Just Plain Scary!, (Simon and Schuster, 2010)

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