Interesting XX Century

The 17th-Century Poltergeist of Speldins Tower


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The Spedlins Tower is located along the south bank of the River Annan in modern-day Lockerbie, Scotland. It was constructed in 1605 by the Jardine clan—a wealthy family that owned a majority of the land between Milhousebridge and Templand. The family spent many decades in the tower until they were forced to move across the river into a new home, following a series of poltergeist attacks.

It all starts with a bread deliveryman named James “Dunty” Porteus. He was a colorful fellow who would often get into arguments with his clients for seemingly no reason at all. However, his baking skills were like no other, which is what made the Jardine family a frequent customer. Dunty’s tendency to quarrel with others is what led to his nickname odd-sounding nickname, which simply meant Argument in Old English.

One day, Dunty and the patriarch of the Jardine household, Sir Alexander, got into an argument for unknown reasons. Rumor has it that the argument stemmed from Dunty burning down his mill while baking. Not one to pass up a good fight, Dunty made sure that Sir Alexander would get a piece of his mind before the day was over. This argument led to Dunty’s being captured and confined within the underground dungeon of Splendins Tower.

Not long after, Sir Alexander received a summons from Edinburgh for business. In his haste to depart, he forgot that the key to the dungeon was still in his pocket. Dunty’s prison stint wasn’t supposed to be very long—although Sir Alexander did have connections with royalty, he was not a law enforcer and could not dish out jail sentences on his own.  

The 74-mile trip between the tower and Edinburgh and back had taken Sir Alexander several days to complete. In the meantime, Dunty was famished in the dungeon without so much as a crumb of bread or a sip of water for sustenance. In his panic, Dunty began calling out to whoever to bring food to the dungeon.

Before making his trip back to the tower, Sir Alexander discovered the key to the dungeon in his pocket. He hired a courier to deliver it back to the tower, but it had arrived far too late to save the anguished Dunty. He had died in the dungeon with bite marks on his wrists.

From then on, the Jardine family would hear cries from all corners of the tower. They could clearly hear the forgotten Dunty screaming out for food and water at odd hours of the night. Sir Alexander brought in a chaplain to perform an exorcism, which worked at stopping the shrieks from tormenting the family. However, in order to keep the stifle the screams for good, there had to be a copy of a Bible opened up to a specific verse.

At one point, the Jardine family had the Bible rebound in the capital city, during which Dunty’s screams could be heard in the entire building. While the Bible was out, the poltergeist was back in, forcing the Jardines to pack up and move out of the tower for good.

The Splendins Tower fell to ruin after several centuries of unuse but was restored in the mid-1960s. Visitors claim that they can hear Dunty calling out, though his shrieks aren’t as violent or as audible. Legend has it that if you leave a stick on a window, you’ll find it covered in chew marks.


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