Glamis Castle

Located just over five miles south of the town of Forfar in Angus and looking like a Grimm fairy-tale, Glamis Castle was originally a 14th century keep which has been extended extensively over the years. Glamis is one of the most ancient of Scottish castles, there is little wonder that the old fortress shelters a number of extremely active phantoms. For centuries, inhabitants of the castle have claimed to see numerous ghostly reenactments of tragedies that have saturated the psychic ether of the environment. The castle has several ghosts to its legend (including a White Lady and a Gray Lady), a monster, a vampire, and a woman accused of witchcraft who was burned at the stake. King Malcolm II is reputed to have died in the castle, though not in the room which is currently named after him. It is also reputed to be the place of the murder of King Duncan by MacBeth. Since Malcolm gained the throne for Duncan by slaughtering the heirs of Kenneth III, in general the place and the MacAlpin dynasty has a bloody history.

The castle has been in the Lyons family since 1372. In the 15th century, the lands were held by Sir John Lyon, Chancellor of Scotland who married the daughter of King Robert II. The castle is still held by the Lyon family, now elevated to the Earls of Strathmore and Kinghorne. The 9th Earl became a Bowes-Lyon when he married a Yorkshire heiress. The Duchess of York, the wife of Duke George, comes from this family. Castle construction began around 1400 and continued for centuries as the family added on to the majestic building.

Glamis Castle

Royalty did not always favor the Lyon family. In the 1537, Janet Douglas, Lady Glamis, was accused of using sorcery to try to kill King James V. She was burned at the stake in Edinburgh and is said to be the “White Lady” who haunts the castle grounds and especially its clock tower.

The castle has the reputation of being the most haunted in Britain, including "Earl Beardie", the 4th Earl of Crawford who is said to have played cards with the Devil in a walled-up room. Visitors to the castle are given an escorted tour round many of the sumptuous apartments, including the dining room (lined with portraits of the Strathmores), the crypt, the magnificent drawing room, the private chapel with painted ceiling and the sitting room used by the Queen Mother. Unfortunately, as in so many such buildings no photography is allowed in the private apartments.

A story is told of a gentleman staying overnight at Glamis who awoke to see a knightly suit of armor standing over him. With a skeletal face staring down.

There is also a “Gray Lady” at Glamis who has been seen wandering the grounds. Though her identity in life is a mystery, she’s been spotted walking around outside the castle for many years.

The vampire in the castle’s legend is said to be that of a servant woman—when she was discovered, she was sealed in a secret room.

Another account speaks of finding a hidden room where some halfman half monster idiot rolled and mewled in the beams of sunlight, but all vanished when the room was entered. All chroniclers of Glamis agree that the ”monster” resides somewhere in a secret room, and generations of servants have sworn that they have heard its shuffling feet and hideous half-human cries as it emerges for its nocturnal prowlings. According to Augustus Hare, who visited the castle in 1877, a ghastly chamber that is deep within a wall hides a secret transmitted from the fourteenth century, which is always known to three persons. When one of the triumvirate dies, the survivors are compelled by a terrible oath to elect a successor. In his famous book Demonology and Witchcraft, Sir Walter Scott also wrote about the ritual of the select three that have to hide their terrible secret. Scott wrote that the only people who knew the location of the hidden room were the Earl, his steward, and, upon coming of age, the heir.

The “monster” of Glamis is a curious bit of folklore that began in 1821 with the first son of the Earl of Strathmore. According to legend, the boy was born in Glamis but was severely deformed. The boy was said to have no neck, undersized arms and legs, and had the overall appearance of a large egg. He was also said to be covered with hair. The family expected the child to die, so they hid him in a secret chamber within the castle and announced to everyone that the child was stillborn. But the child didn’t die. The boy, who was the true heir to the castle, grew up and remained a hidden secret in the castle.

As each of the earl’s other sons reached the age of 21, they were shown their hideous brother who was still living in the castle. After seeing the deformed man, each son lived an unhappy existence the rest of his days. Supposedly this “monster” lived for a century and died in the 1920s. For centuries, three people have been selected to protect the room.

An anecdotal story tells that the Duchess during her childhood and some of the other ladies tried to find the secret room when the men were away one day around the turn of the century, by hanging strips of cloth from every room in the castle. One window did not sport a strip of cloth, but before it could be explored further, the men returned, and the Earl was disproportionately angry about the incident. Today the castle is most renowned as the childhood home of Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, who became Queen Elizabeth and mother of the current queen.

Encyclopedia of Ancient and Forbidden Secrets by Nye;
Encyclopedia of Haunted Places: “Ghostly Locales From Around The World” by Jeff Belanger;
Real Ghosts,Restless Spirits, and Haunted Places by Brad Steiger

Pic Sources:
Real Ghosts, Restless Spirits, and Haunted Places by Brad Steiger page 394

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