Yester Castle: Legends say it was Built by a Magical Troupe of Hobgoblins

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Yester Castle is located near the village of Gifford in East Lothian, Scotland. The castle is hidden in deep forest and is in very bad condition.

Most of the buildings of the castle are ruined. The only remaining construction that is almost intact and in its original form is the subterranean Goblin Ha’ or Hobgoblin Ha’ (Goblin Hall).

Gifford Village. The road to the left leads to Yester Castle. Photo credit

Gifford Water runs through Gifford and the Yester Estate near Yester Castle Photo credit

Yester Castle was built in the late 12th century by Hugo de Giffard. He was a Norman given land in East Lothian during the reign of King David I.

The Scottish king wanted to encourage the Normans to populate Scotland in order to have access to their military knowledge. Hugo undoubtedly had success during the reign of William the Lion (1165-1214). At this time he was allowed to built Yester Castle.

Yester Castle Photo credit

But major renovations of the castle were made in the 13th century. Sir Hugo de Giffard, the grandson of the first owner, built the underground chamber known as the Goblin Ha’. The legend says that Sir Hugo de Giffard, also known as the ‘Wizard of Yester’,  had a reputation of being a warlock or necromancer.

He made a pact with the Devil and a magical army of hobgoblins helped him to construct the hall of the Yester Castle, where he could practice his black magic arts. During the Scottish Wars of Independence, Yester Castle was destroyed. At the end of the wars the castle was rebuilt, but never again rose to its former glory and was left to decay slowly.

The tower in 1814 Photo credit

The castle is now a ruin. There is little left above ground from the original triangular castle. At the south side of the whole area was the main entrance that had two round guard towers protecting the gateway. Nothing now remains of that above ground.

In front of the entrance are located the remains of the 15th-century tower house that originally stood on three levels above the surviving tunnel-vaulted basement. The 9-meter high castle walls also survive, but this medieval treasure is hidden under thick vegetation.

Goblin Ha’ Vaulting Photo credit

Well hidden, but also well preserved, is the underground chamber known as Goblin Ha’. Legends tell about the mystical origins of this subterranean hall, but it is in fact only the basement of the castle. The structure is located on the east of the walled area once surrounded by Yester Castle and can be reached by a staircase.

The vault is about 37 feet long and 13 feet wide with a 19-foot (at the highest point) high impressive Gothic arched roof. The building is constructed of large square-cut stones. Another staircase leads down to a well which used to supply the castle with water. The Goblin Ha’ was probably built in the first half of the 13th century with some renovations made in the late 14th and the 15th centuries.

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