The Daily Tar Heel

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Tuesday November 29th

Gimghoul Castle still a source of lore in Chapel Hill

Gimghoul Castle, at the end of Gimghoul Rd. on north campus, is the heart of mystery and secrets for the rumored secret society.
Buy Photos Gimghoul Castle, at the end of Gimghoul Rd. on north campus, is the heart of mystery and secrets for the rumored secret society.

Gimghoul Castle, located about a half a mile east of Davis Library, has been the source of many rumors and legends at UNC.

The castle is the meeting place for the Order of Gimghoul, and was built on the site of the alleged death of Peter Dromgoole.

According to legend, UNC student Peter Dromgoole was in love with a girl named Fanny. One night, Peter and a man — who had also fallen in love with Fanny — agreed to engage in a duel, resulting in Dromgoole’s death. It is said the witnesses buried Peter under the rock and his blood has stained the rock forever. Fanny died of a broken heart, and it is said their ghosts now haunt the site.

Sarah Carrier, a librarian at Wilson Library, said based off the information that is known, Peter Dromgoole was supposed to begin at UNC in 1833, but then disappeared, supposedly fleeing to Europe.

“We have some handwritten documents, so this is a letter from Peter to his father, saying that he would go to Europe and never come back, so there’s some family drama documented here in the library as well,” she said.

The Order of Gimghoul, a secret society of male students and faculty, uses the castle as a meeting place.

History professor Harry Watson said the order simply uses the castle for social purposes.

“My father belonged to the Gimghoul Order and he told me they used it for dances back in the 1920s, and that’s as far as my personal knowledge goes,” he said.

Watson said no one has ever been able to verify if Dromgoole existed.

“The whole thing is so fuzzy, people have tried to even identify if there was ever such a person as Peter Dromgoole, who was a student at UNC, and have not succeeded,” he said.

Wilson Library currently has an exhibit about legends and lore around Chapel Hill, which displays an article from a 1924 edition of Carolina Magazine about the real Peter Dromgoole. The library houses the Dromgoole family papers, the papers of the order and yearbooks dating back to 1895 with record of the order and its members.

After doing some research about the Order of Gimghoul, sophomores Becky Chen and Assem Patel recently took a trip to the castle, which is on private property. Chen said it was late at night when they visited, and they saw lights on inside the castle.

Patel said when the two turned onto Gimghoul Road, they saw people coming from the castle.

Despite the fact Wilson Library has records of Dromgoole and his life, the history of the castle is still cloaked in mystery.

“The lore that’s built up around the castle is really fascinating, and just part of Chapel Hill’s history and the history of UNC,” Carrier said.

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