In the run-up to Hallowe’en, local writer and ghost investigator Gregor Stewart is sharing some of the area’s ghostly tales.
“The lonely figure of a monk can be seen wandering through the ruins of Blackfriars Chapel in the centre of St Andrews. “The spook is believed to be the ghost of Alexander Campbell, a principle character in the execution of the Protestant Reformer Patrick Hamilton.
“Hamilton’s death was particularly gruesome. Having been sentenced to be burned alive, several attempts to ignite the fire using small amounts of gunpowder only served to severely injure Hamilton. Eventually the fire was lit, but burned too slowly to generate enough heat. With the crowd becoming restless at the botched burning and starting to show concern at the treatment of Hamilton, the fire was checked and it was found that wet wood had been used in the hastily constructed pile.
“It was while dry wood was being brought from the castle that Campbell seized on the opportunity to verbally attack Hamilton, condemning the weakened and dying man to face the judgement of Christ.
“Eventually the fire roared and, six hours after his ordeal began, Hamilton perished. Just a few days later, Campbell was struck down with a mysterious illness that quickly took his life, and the local belief is that it was he who faced the judgement of Christ for his un-Christian actions towards Hamilton, and he was forever condemned to remain at the chapel.
“As for Patrick Hamilton, his suffering has also left its mark on the town, not in the form of a haunting, but it is said that as his spirit left his body, his face was burned into the stonework of St Salvator’s Tower, which stands in front of the spot where he was executed.”