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Treasure 77: The Castle Spectre, 1876 - 1888
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Treasure 77: The Castle Spectre, 1876 - 1888

Historic Documents
David Oswald
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Treasure 77: The Castle Spectre, 1876 - 1888
Historic Documents
Treasure 77: The Castle Spectre, 1876 - 1888
One of our treasures this month is a rare periodical known as The Castle Spectre. It is unusual as it was printed and published by a Victorian family from their home at 'The Castle', 6 Mackie Place, and later from 'The Galleries' on Skene Street West, and offers an insight into the lives of a middle-class family in Victorian Aberdeen. The copy on display was gifted to the library by the editor, Alexander D Forbes in 1888, and includes a handwritten letter to the City Librarian at the time.

It not only contains amateur poetry, literature, and social and religious commentary, but also sheds a light on a forgotten and mysterious dwelling place in the heart of the city. The area in question is the land behind Skene Street, encompassing Mackie Place, and the grounds of three old houses long since demolished by the Denburn - Cherry Vale, 'The Galleries', and the White House, also known as 'The Castle'.

As long as 'The Castle' at 6 Mackie Place existed (it was built towards the end of the 18th or beginning of the 19th century, according to various reports) it was described as being haunted. No accounts mention a specific ghost, but the eccentricities of the occupant and his young family helped to fuel the reputation for the Castle's hauntings. The first issue of The Castle Spectre (October 21, 1876) states:

"We are the dwellers in that house in the neighbourhood of Skene Street known to the "oldest inhabitants" as the Haunted House, to younger inhabitants as the Castle, and to the Post Office as No.6 Mackie Place. In former days we were "desp'rate wicked". We dressed ourselves in white sheets, and popped out upon passers by, frightening them into fits. We used to scoop out the largest turnips?and having cut out slices to represent eyes, nose, and mouth, light candles in them, and stick them on poles in hedges?We used to lie behind low walls and growl like bears, or caterwaul like cats, whenever any weakly-looking person was passing?In short, we were the terror of the neighbourhood."

View the Treasures from our Collections interactive exhibition on the touchscreens in Central, Airyhall, Tillydrone and Mastrick libraries to find out more about the spooky publication and mysterious Mackie Place.
Mackie Place
Aberdeen Local Studies
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