Thursday, April 8, 2010

Glamis Castle - Scotland

I've been thinking a lot about this lately and I've decided to do a somewhat regular feature on the castles of the world.  I've always had this special fascination with castles and, in particular, with their history.  I look for books and novels, both fiction and non-fiction, about them, and I never hesitate to read a story that centers around an old European castle, especially if there is a ghost story and time travel involved.  One of the latest books I've read featured Glamis Castle, so I decided to feature this one first.

Glamis Castle is located in Angus, Scotland.  It is the home of the Earl and Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne, and what is especially intriguing to me for when I go back to Scotland one day, it is open to the public.  It was the childhood home of the Queen Mother, and Princess Margaret was born there.  It is currently featured on the 10-pound notes issues by the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Glamis Village can be traced back to the 8th century, and the earliest records of Glamis Castle record it as a hunting lodge in 1264.  The land was granted to Sir John Lyon of Forteviot by Robert the II in 1372, who also married Robert's daughter Joanna.  Construction on the castle began around 1400.  The castle remains home to the Lyon family today, although it looks remarkably different than it did in 1400.

A little note of interest for Shakespeare fans:  The title character in Macbeth resides at Glamis Castle, although certainly the historical King MacBeth (d.1057) could not have had any connection to the castle as it was not yet built.

The current castle occupies some 14 000 acres and continues to produce cash crops today.  You can also rent some of the rooms for parties and weddings.

Legends and Tales
This is what really interested me in Glamis Castle.  Oh, how I do love any kind of ghost stories and this castle has them by the score.

The most famous legend is the Monster of Glamis.  Supposedly, there was a hideously deformed child born to the family, and this child was kept in the castle for his entire life and his suite of rooms kept hidden after his death.   I did read that perhaps this legend was inspired by the Ogilvie family, who sought protection from their enemies the Lindsays, and were left to die in the castle of starvation, they were in fact walled up somewhere in the 16-foot walls.

There is also the story of the Grey Lady.  The tour guide states that there is one seat in the chapel that is always reserved for this lady, thought to be Janet Douglas, Lady Glamis, although it is still used widely for family functions.  This ghost apparently haunts the castle and many people have seen her around.   

The story of Lady Janet Douglas is a tragic one and I am very familiar with the story.  I wasn't going to share it here, but I can't get her out of my mind so I will.  To make it short, Lady Glamis and her husband were very happy together until he passed away.  Left at the mercy of the king who wanted Glamis Castle, she was imprisoned (for 5 years) on trumped of charges of witchcraft along with her son.  People did not believe she was guilty as her character was impeccable and she was much loved amongst her people.  King James, who bore a deep hatred against anyone carrying the Douglas name (you can read more about that another time), he resorted to horrible torture to many people around her.  She was eventually found guilty and burned at the stake at Edinburgh Castle.  James returned the castle, but not many of its possessions, to Janet's son after her death and it is believed he felt great remorse over her death and a lot of guilt because he let his anger get the best of him.  He was wildly hated for his treatment of this beautiful and gracious lady.

James V

Some sites to visit:

Glamis Castle - Hauntings

Glamis Castle - History


  1. Ooo, interesting post. Since Glamis Castle was mentioned in Kelley Armstrong's Haunted I've been meaning to do my research on it!

    I've been wondering if the tales Eve learns were fabrications of Kelley's imagination - but I guess they were true! :)

    I love the stories that are always wrapped around old castles. I should find out more about Cardiff Castle. Amazing how you can pass by a whole building (well castle in my case) on a daily basis but don't really pay attention until you move away!

    Thanks for sharing! This was a really interesting read. I'm looking forward to more posts of this nature!

  2. I love castles too! Thanks for the info... I would love to visit Ireland and Scotland!

  3. I love castles too! As a kid I had pictures of them all over my walls. As soon as my kids are older (and I magically have the money) I want to go tour castles of the world. Someday...