If you’re searching for abandoned buildings in Scotland, then Crawford Priory is an absolute find! Perched on the outskirts of the little village of Springfield in Fife, reports of its original build dates range from between 1756 and 1809 (with a remodel expansion in the 19th century).
Contrary to its name, the big house was never a priory. It was originally built as a hunting lodge by the 21st Earl of Crawford. After being passed down to the sister of the 22nd Earl of Crawford (Lady Mary Lindsay Crawford) it was then developed by her to take on a more Gothic styling (hence the turrets and priory appearance).
Lady Mary was a women I can get on board with; a lady who lived alone with her servants and loved her animals so much that she built a pet cemetery to honour them in death (you can even find a headstone in memory of her favourite deer). To add to her solo female legacy, she generously left offerings to the local poor, servants, and her animals when she died.
As it was passed further down the chain, the enormous mansion eventually became too costly to maintain (especially around the turn of the 2nd world war), and the building has since fallen into disrepair.
Crawford Priory directions
Getting close to the mansion is relatively easily, we set Google Maps to Crawford Priory itself, which sends you out to the little village of Springfield, Fife. You can take your car as far as the small local road leading down to a train crossing, but we parked slightly back so as not to get in the way of the locals.
If you program your maps to ‘walk’ when you get to Springfield, it’ll highlight a route that appears to cross the River Eden. Before setting off, we asked a local resident about this, who explained that their used to be a crossing (but that it’s not longer in place). Long story short, ignore this shortest route on Google maps at this point.
Instead, take the path across the railway crossing and continue to follow it off to the right, past a little development of about 6 new houses. Carry on down the only route available, and you’ll eventually come to a farm with a bridge that crosses over the river. If you keep going past this, the road will fork, and this is where you take a left.
From here, the path roughly splits again; a more structured path curving off to the right, and a grassy route continuing straight ahead. Go straight.
Finally, you’ll reach a cluster of trees with a beautiful garden set up and a building to the right. We took the path that veered off to the left (bursting with bluebells at the time) and carried on this path until we reached the priory. If you walk fast, this entire circuit will take about 30 minutes.
Crawford Priory staircase
One of the most beautiful parts of Crawford Priory had to be the old iron staircase that winds up the wall of crumbling ruin. The once seamlessly snaking steps are now filled in with debris and rubble and the climb has become a slippery scramble to the top. It’s not particularly safe, I cut open my hand on the way up and. I’m going to throw in a deterrent and a warning about the venture for safe measure.
The steps (and the building) have a reputation for being eerie and unwelcoming, however (in my opinion), the take-over by nature removes any horror that the long-forgotten home may have harboured. At the bottom of the stairway, just after the entrance way underneath it, you’ll find a square of beautifully patterned tiles, in near-perfect condition, almost as if they’d forgotten to decay like the rest of their surroundings.
Crawford Priory walks
The walk listed above is a good one in its own right. However, if you’re looking to really explore the area and while away a day, the path continues past Crawford Priory (through the old stables and round the back, allowing you to add some extra steps to your count). There’s lots of nice spots to take a sit down around the abandoned building, so I’d recommend you take a little picnic and make the most of it.
Is Crawford Priory haunted?
The grounds of Crawford Priory are said to be haunted by our animal-loving, independent lead, Lady Mary. It’s also said that a male voice, rumoured to be that of her faithful old butler, can be heard muttering among the ruins (perhaps grumbling at the decomposing state of his surroundings?).
The priory and it’s tales of phantom presence are so popular, that they’ve even caught the attention of the team at Spooky Isles and the Scottish Paranormal Team.
Did it feel haunted? My honest opinion, no. There’s an element or darkness that comes from the sqwaking crows as you disrupt their long-time home. However, that aside, the building has been so consumed by nature (and light from ceiling collapses) that we found it quite calming. Perhaps, at night, it’d be a different tale?
Exploring hidden parts of Scotland? Check our my post about how to find Scotland’s hidden pyramid.