Tag: history

History’s Secrets Lie Hidden In the Caves Beneath A Scottish Castle

Culzean Castle sits along the Ayrshire coast of Scotland, perched atop a cave-riddled cliff that’s steeped in as much legend as it is history. Archaeologists have found indications of human presence in the caves dating back to the Iron Age, around 135-325 CE. More recently, the caves were used as a storehouse for Coif Castle and the stone tower that pre-dated it, going back to as early as the 14th century. What is perhaps more intriguing than the history of the caves and their castle are the legends tied to this place.

But First, A History Lesson

Although the plot of land where Culzean Castle now sits has been coveted real estate since the 1300s, the castle itself wasn’t built until the late 1700s. It was completed in 1792, featuring many luxurious living quarters, an oval grand staircase, and a saloon in a circular tower that faces out to sea.

Following the Second World War, the castle was frequented by General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was gifted access to the apartment at the top of the castle in recognition of his service to the Allied forces during the war. Today, the manor is a tourist attraction and can be rented out for events and weddings. Several TV shows and movies have also featured the fortress in recent years. An artist’s rendering of Culzean Castle has been printed on the back of five-pound notes minted by the Royal Bank of Scotland since 1987.

The Legend That Precedes It

Numerous legends surround the caves beneath the castle. Although the caves were known to be an area used for storage, according to legend they may have also served as an excellent place to hide. During the 1500s, a resident cannibal set up shop along the Ayrshire coast and is rumored to have possibly used the caves beneath Culzean Castle as a hideout. Sawney Bean and a small group of followers terrorized the nearby countryside, abducting people and taking them off to who-knows-where to make a meal of them.

Eventually, he and his supporters were flushed out and brought to justice for their crimes. Nobody knows precisely where they had set up shop, but early this century, old human remains were found inside the caves, possibly belonging to one of his victims. On a less gruesome note, the 1700s brought smuggler traffic to the caves. Goods from the Isle of Mann are suspected to have been brought to the caves beneath the castle and hidden there for later distribution inland. The likelihood of such an operation being carried out under the inhabitants’ noses is highly unlikely, so any smuggling that went on was almost certainly mutually beneficial.

Who Doesn’t Love A Good Ghost Story?

We end with a brief overview of Culzean Castle’s otherworldly residents. According to most sources, seven ghosts inhabit the castle, though four are particularly notable. The first is a black or gray apparition that is said to travel up the stairs from the State Bedroom on the first floor to the second level of the building. Another ghost is that of a little girl who is often seen wandering around by the kitchens. The third haunting is believed to be the spirit of Margaret Erskine of Dun, the 1st Marquess of Ailsa and wife of the 12th Earl of Cassillis. Her picture is hung on the wall at the top of the oval staircase, and her eyes are said to follow you as you walk past. A mist is sometimes seen flowing across the balcony, emanating from her portrait.

Finally, we end with the story of the piper and his dog. A young piper boy was sent to travel the caves from the castle into town to prove that they were safe. His music could be heard from the castle, gradually fading away as he ventured farther into the network of tunnels until suddenly, it stopped. A search party was sent to look for him after he didn’t show up in town, but he was never found. Legend states that sometimes his piping can still be heard coming from the caves below the castle.

The Real Reason Why You Can’t Ever Visit Hawaii’s Haiku Stairs

Hawaii is known for its natural beauty. From its gorgeous sandy beaches to the volcanoes and more, tourists (and natives) have many opportunities to get lost in the islands’ breathtaking views.

But there’s one attraction forbidden from tourists, and that’s the Haiku Stairs. Also known as the Stairway to Heaven, this 3,922-step stairwell would be the perfect destination for tourists who wish to see Hawaii unlike ever before.

So, what’s the real story behind these mysterious stairs? And why is it illegal for tourists to visit them?

Originated During World War II

If you haven’t heard about the Haiku Stairs until now, don’t worry. You’re not alone. It’s a hidden gem in history, but the natural site has existed much longer than you might think.

After the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941, the United States Navy built a radio station in Haiku Valley on Hawaii’s O’ahu island. The top-secret plan was intended to enhance military communications, an essential need following the devastating attack during World War II.

Wikipedia

But in order to build the radio station, construction workers had to suspend the massive antenna between two mountain walls rising as vertically as possible. With a similar height of 2,000 feet and flat land in between, the Haiku Valley was the perfect location as it created a natural amphitheater to amplify the signal. It would be difficult to climb toward the station; therefore, workers created a stairway to help, which ultimately led to the historic Haiku Stairs.

Offering The Most Gorgeous Views Ever

If you’re lucky enough to gain access to the Haiku Stairs, you will want to spend all day at the site. Nestled between Hawaii’s natural vegetation, adventurers would be surrounded by mango and palm trees, lilies, ferns, and more.

With a view like this, it’s not surprising large groups of tourists would flock to the stairs to see the view for themselves. But not everyone was happy with this sudden increase in popularity.

Closing Down For Safety

The Haiku Stairs first opened to the public in 1975 by the U.S. Coast Guard. But due to immense popularity, the stairs were closed to tourists in 1987 because of vandalism and safety concerns. Many tourists understood the new regulations, but in the age of social media, tourists have wanted to trek to the stairs for the perfect Instagram selfie.

This isn’t safe, which is why the Coast Guard closed the stairs. For example, a 2015 storm left the stairway rugged and dangerous to traverse. The Board of Water Supply works hard to protect the stairs, spending $170,000 per year to place guards on the stairs. If you’re caught trespassing, you could expect a fine of up to $1,000 and a court date. On top of that, local residents have booby-trapped their property to prevent trespassers from reaching the stairs.

Don’t think Hawaiian locals are frustrated with the popularity of the Haiku Stairs. They are, but they would never think of demolishing the stairway. After all, it’s a unique part of history. Instead, locals united to form the Friends of Haiku Stairs, an organization of volunteers who work together to protect the stairs. This is all in hopes of eventually restoring the Stairway to Heaven to its original beauty.