Corfe Castle, Dorset, England
© Ross Hoddinott/Minden Picture
Creepy Corfe Castle
Spying the crooked silhouette of Corfe Castle above the rolling, foggy hills of Dorset, England, you might not guess at the ruin's former palatial beauty - you'll more likely sense its long history of intrigue, and maybe feel a chill down your spine.
Corfe's tale begins with a betrayal. Rumour has it this mound is where the teenage King Edward the Martyr was assassinated, likely by his half-brother and successor Æthelred the Unready, in 978 - a century before the original stone structure was built. The castle became a favourite of 13th-century ruler King John - whose luxurious renovations hid a feared dungeon where the calculating monarch starved numerous prisoners. In the mid-1600s English Civil War, noblewoman Mary Bankes - wife of the castle's new lord, who was off fighting the war - doggedly defended it against antiroyalist forces in a three-year siege. But Mary was given up by members of her entourage and captured, and the castle was toppled into the craggy heap you see now - another betrayal to end its story.
Nowadays the remains of Corfe Castle are preserved as a Scheduled Ancient Monument by the UK - but that status might not be all that's protecting the site. Reports of children's sobs echoing through the air, unexplained flickering lights, and - most notoriously - the headless apparition of a white-clad woman have some believing spectres of a millennium past still haunt the ruin.