Spedlins Tower – James ‘Dunty’ Porteous

Spedlins Tower - James 'Dunty' Porteous

The fortress, Spedlins Tower, looms over the south bank of the River Annan in the county of Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, UK. It was constructed in the Tudor era (around about 1605) and was home to the wealthy Jardine family.

Records show that the Jardines owned the majority of the land between Templand and Milhousebridge.

The Jardine family’s stay at Spedlins Tower was cut short due to an unwelcome guest terrorising their day to day life. They eventually had to move across the River Annan to get away from the ghost of a miller who was haunting them…


Who Was James Porteous?

James Porteous worked as the local miller in the nearby territory of Milhousebridge. His work route included delivering his produce to the Baronet, Sir Alexander Jardine, at Spedlins Tower.

Porteous was a larger than life character with a bit of an argumentative side to him – his quarrels with the locals eventually led to him picking up the nickname Dunty (apparently this is Old English for ‘argument’).

Dunty’s sharp side eventually led to him having a big falling out with Alexander Jardine, some say there was an accident in the mill that Sir Alexander owned…and Dunty was behind this accident.

The argument finally got the better of Sir Jardine’s patience and he ordered Porteous to be locked up in the dungeons of Spedlins Tower for a cooling off period.


Hunger

Not long after this argument, Jardine was called away to Edinburgh on some pressing business – he had forgotten he had locked the miller in his dungeon and he had also forgotten that he had the keys to his cell in his jacket pocket.

As the hours led to days, Dunty realized that Sir Jardine had forgotten about him and began to panic.

Sir Jardine

When Sir Jardine eventually arrived at his destination he was horrified to find the keys to the dungeon in his pocket. He hastily hired a courier to return to the Tower with the keys and release Dunty.

He was too late.

Dunty was found dead inside the dungeon cell with half his hand chewed off – apparently he was that desperate for food!


The Haunting

From that moment on, the Jardine family were tormented by the spirit of the dead miller.

All day long and all through the dark nights, the family could hear the ghost wailing out “Let me out – I’m deen’ o’ hunger!”

The tormented screams got so bad that Sir Alexander eventually called in a local chaplain to perform an exorcism. The Chaplin used a large black bible to banish the miller’s spirit to the dungeons – it was no longer allowed to haunt the tower’s living quarters.

The whole paranormal episode had been too much for the Jardine family – Soon after, they moved from Spedlins Tower to Jardin Hall across the river.

The large bible used by the Chaplin in the exorcism ended up being bricked up in a stone niche in the Tower’s staircase wall. This antique bible acted as a ward to the miller’s spirit, and kept it quiet in the dungeons.

A few years after the Jardine family had moved into their new home, across the river, the bible was sent to Edinburgh to be rebound. This resulted in the family now being haunted in their new home by the ghost of Dunty.

Sir Alexander sent for the holy book at once and as soon as it was placed back in it’s holding place in the tower, the spirit’s cries disappeared.

These days, the owners of Spedlins Tower still insist that the ghost of Dunty resides in their dungeon area. Apparently, if you put a stick into the dungeon window, it will come out chewed…

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