It’s always good to have a ghostly tale up your sleeve when Hallowe’en arrives, and Scotland is not short of such tales. So here is a story of a time when I felt genuine fear of the unknown; I still shudder a little when I think of it.

It was spring 1995, and I was staying for a few weeks on the beautiful peninsula of Kintyre. Initially I was accommodated in a lovely family home in Campbeltown but soon after my arrival I went exploring.

I was driving along the minor road on the east side of the peninsula when I came down a steep hill. . . and an ancient graveyard came into view.

I decided to stop and take a look, as old graveyards have always fascinated me. I could tell this one was very old, the graves bulging out the ground and ancient stones and monuments lying scattered.

There were the remains of what I assumed had been an old kirk but I soon discovered that this was a very significant site. There was a hut-like building which contained amazing, carved grave slabs, with effigies of medieval figures such as knights in armour.

I read that the place was called Saddell Abbey and the tumbled ruins were all that was left of it. The ruins dated back to the 1100s, when Somerled, who had a powerbase in Kintyre, granted land for a Cistercian monastery. I felt like an explorer who’d found the remains of an ancient, long-lost temple. Okay, there was a small car park and information boards but I felt the excitement of a new discovery.

Then I discovered something else – a caravan. It sat just behind a cottage called Arran View, which bordered the graveyard, and had a sign saying “for rent”. So I gave my thanks to the family for giving me temporary accommodation and moved into the caravan.

A short walk to a beautiful beach revealed another treasure – the 16th-century Saddell Castle!

What a place, I thought: full of history, natural beauty and tranquility.

When night time arrived, the dead quiet was even more noticeable and amplified every noise in the darkness. I had to get used to the sound of foxes screeching, of the deer strolling nearby, owls calling and of animals snuffling just outside the caravan. I could even hear the faint gurgling of the nearby burn. It was magical.

Then I heard about the story.

It was told to me by a local man, whose name I sadly cannot now remember. It was a tale about a tailor who had been set a challenge by the MacDonald chief who resided in Saddell Castle. He needed a new pair of trews but, to make the commission more interesting, he offered a reward if the tailor worked at night with a candle in the old graveyard, for everyone knew it was haunted.

“Who or what the ghost was, I cannot say,” the man told me, “some say it’s the devil, others a bitter demon who doesn’t like the living.”

The tailor agreed to the challenge, and set to work by the light of a candle, sat on a gravestone. Soon a grinding sound came from the darkness and the flickering light of the candle merged with the moonlight to reveal a head emerging from a grave.

“You see my head?” asked the ghoulish figure in a menacing voice.

“Aye I see it, but I have to sew this,” replied the tailor with trembling voice and hands.

Gradually, the ghostly figure continued to open the grave slab and crawl out, its hands and legs emerging, its evil-looking face grinning at the tailor, with piercing red eyes.

At last, the tailor finished his sewing and bolted just as the demon leapt towards him. The tailor ran for his life towards the castle, screaming at the night watchman to open the door. The demon was right behind him, growling and screeching, trying to grab him.

The tailor reached the castle, the door opened, he threw himself over the threshold and the door was shut, just in time.

That was the story. But I remember the man’s final words: “That is why, if you look carefully, you can see fingerprints in the stone by the entrance to the castle. It’s said they were made when the demon tried to grab the tailor as the door closed.”

After I was told the tale I took a stroll to the castle to see if I could find the fingerprints – and I did.

That night, in the caravan, alone, with darkness outside and the noises which came with the silence, I felt, for the first time, a bit spooked. The graveyard was visible from my bedroom window and I closed the small curtains and tried to sleep.

I had a dream; a vivid dream, in which I was sleeping in the caravan. In my dream there was a knock at the door, and in my dream I got out of bed and opened the door.

Standing outside was a ghoulish figure, which in my dream I knew was the devil. He looked like Jack Nicholson in a scene from The Shining, except his eyes were red.

He leaned towards me, peering at me with an evil grin, and said: “I’ve been waiting for you!”

Then he pounced at me.

That’s when I woke up. I gasped and it took a few moments for me to realise it had just been a dream. It had been so real, and everything around me was as it had been in the dream. As my heartbeat calmed I laughed to myself.

“Stupid story,” I thought.

I settled back down to sleep but, of course, I couldn’t. The sounds outside kept piercing my imagination.

Then I thought I heard a grinding sound.

“Stupid story,” I repeated to myself. But still I couldn’t sleep.

Then there was a knock at the door. For real this time. I wasn’t dreaming.

I froze, genuinely terrified. I lay listening.

I could hear something moving outside on the gravel that surrounded the caravan. I checked my watch. It was 3am. I felt so foolish for being so spooked but I dared not answer the door or look out of the window.

Finally, my heart racing, I jumped out of bed, put the light on and played Bat Out Of Hell by Meatloaf on my cassette recorder as loudly as I could, and sang along.

It could have been a very long night, but thankfully it was late May and the sunrise soon arrived. Then I could sleep.

What happened that night? I think my imagination, aided perhaps by a touch of whisky (I must admit), merged with the story to make one of my own. I later found a version of the tale written by Joseph Jacobs in the late 19th century, and have encountered other versions since.

But despite their differences in detail, they all agree on one thing: the ancient graveyard at Saddell is haunted. But, of course, it’s just an old story.