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Oxford Castle

Oxford Castle

Photo: thriddle, licensed with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0, via Flickr

Swearing Monks at Oxford Castle

15 April 2021 (Updated 7 September 2021)

Given that Oxford Castle was a prison and its grounds were the site of numerous executions over the centuries, it is perhaps unsurprising that it has attracted its fair share of spooks and specters.

In fact, it claims to be one of the most haunted historical sites in Britain.

Monks, murderers and courtroom curses

The castle mound is said to be one of the many places haunted by the poisoner Mary Blandy, who was hanged there for her crimes in April 1752.

The castle was also the scene of the Black Assizes of 1577, where a prisoner was believed to have cursed the courtroom at his trial, resulting in over 300 deaths from a sudden and mysterious illness.

The crypt below Oxford Castle is said to be haunted by the ghost of a monk who, perhaps uncharacteristically for a religious man, is noted for his bad language!

Oxford Castle in 1832, illustration by Silvanus Urban

An illustration of Oxford Castle in 1832 by Silvanus Urban.

Poltergeist activity

The prison was the scene of a widely-reported incident of poltergeist activity during the 1970s, which was apparently the result of a séance performed by some of the prisoners.

Perhaps connected to this was a report of a misty shape climbing a staircase and another incident where a prison guard's dog began growling at a shadowy figure.

Oxford Castle is no longer a prison and capitalises on its spooky reputation by hosting a yearly 'Ghostfest' in November where the public can go on ghost tours, or even try their hand at ghost hunting with the help of paranormal investigators.


  1. 'Oxfordshire Ghost Stories' by Richard Holland (Bradwell Books, 2013, ISBN: 9781902674735)
  2. www.oxfordcastleandprison.co.uk