FIFE, SCOTLANDHISTORYThe beginnings of Balgonie Castle date back to the Sibbald clan, who according to the earliest records held the land around 1246. In the mid-1300s, the Sibbalds built a sandstone fortification with a tower house at one corner. That tower and much of the fortress still stands today. One of the family's daughters wed Sir Robert Lundin, the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland who expanded the stronghold in 1496. The Boswell family acquired the fort in 1627 and subsequently sold it to Sir Alexander Leslie (right), a soldier of Scottish descent who fought for the Swedes in the Thirty-Year War and eventually led the Covenanters during the Scottish Bishops Wars. He rose to the title of Lord Leslie in 1641 and while he was the proprietor, continued to add on buildings and storage towers as well as a park that surrounds the fort to this day. More additions were completed between 1664 and 1706, first by John Leslie the 7th earl of Rothes and his successor David Melville in the form of a grand stair linking the castle keep and the north range and a three-story section linking the north range to the southwest block. The castle was briefly captured by Rob Roy MacGregor in 1716, but was eventually returned to Melville, the 6th Earl of Leven who continued improvements in the 1720s. In 1824 the castle again exchanged hands, being sold to James Balfour. Unfortunately, he could not keep up with the encroaching decay of the building and in time the roofs were removed (below) to avoid paying taxes on the structure. The following decades saw further deterioration and vandalism to the castle. It was not until 1971 and the presence of new owner David Maxwell of Edinburgh that restoration began in earnest. The keep and chapel have now been fully restored with the help of various European historical grants and the current owner Raymond Morris, his wife Margaret and son Stuart, who purchased the land in 1985, now inhabit the castle. They are the first family to do so in over 160 years. Restoration continues and Balgonie Castle now hosts the general public and is site of a great many wedding receptions in both the chapel (below), located in the basement of the north range, and its Great Hall located within the tower. An unusual aspect of the Great Hall was that unlike common practice with most halls of that nature in European castles, this one did not have a fireplace. This was the main reason that it never received the attention it deserved over centuries of restoration. Many roofs still remain missing from that area of the castle, a testimony to the previous conditions of centuries past.THE HAUNTINGS OF BALGONIE CASTLEThe castle has been called one of the most haunted castles in Scotland and is said to be home to as many as 11 ghosts, with most hauntings occurring in the Great Hall (pictured below). Shadowy apparitions and disembodied voices speaking in muffled tones have been heard throughout the room. It is noteworthy that during an excavation in 1912, a skeleton was found in the floor of the Great Hall. The most-reported sighting is of 'Green Jeannie", seen on one of the castle's ranges as far back as 1842. A Photograph of her form has been taken during a wedding reception held there and she has been seen quite often over the years by both guests and the Laird (Mr. Morris) himself. He reports seeing her often walking between two rooms linked by a doorway in a left to right direction behind two barred windows, often stopping to glance into the courtyard from a castle window. She has been described as appearing "pea-green in color" with her face hidden inside a hood. It is speculated she may be a member of the Lundie family. The ghost of a 17th-century soldier has been seen both in the courtyard and walking through the castle gateway. As well as a hooded figure seen in the same spot opening non-existent doors. An old man dressed in medieval clothing appearing gray in color resembling Alexander Leslie have been seen inside Mrs. Morris' bedroom standing at the foot of her bed. Other reports include the sighting of a phantom dog and a disembodied head seen floating around the first floor hall. In addition, staff members have reported being touched by unseen figures while preparing the castle for various events.