The Factor of Kildalton Castle - An ancient Islay Ghost

In the early days there was a strong belief in "familiars" and ghosts. A familiar is an animal-shaped spirit who serves for witchery, a demon or other magician-related subjects. Familiars were imagined to serve their owners as domestic servants, farmhands, spies, and companions, in addition to helping bewitch enemies. In this story however the familiar is the appearance of a person who was known to be somewhere else.

There is a story known on Islay about a "laird" who had an employee, a sort of factor, whose appearance was very distinctive. The laird lived in Kildalton Castle, which was demolished years ago, and his employee had to leave the island on several occasions. During his absence he was however seen several times wandering in the large castle. Many years after this man was dead and buried, a couple of women were sitting just off the path which runs through Craigmore wood, once the property of the "laird". As they sat they became aware of someone approaching. Looking up they saw a man coming towards them dressed in clothes of a bygone age. The strange thing was that he was followed by a terrier dog. The women let the man pass and while he did there was not a sound at all and he and his dog disappeared into the bushes. The women were rather scared and frightened and feeling they could not stay any longer in these woods, they made for home. One of the women related the incident to her mother, describing the man she had seen. The mother, who had been in the "laird's" employment for many years, recognised the description as that of the "laird's" employee, the factor of Kildalton Castle.

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