Glamis Castle Considered The Most Haunted Castle in Scotland

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Glamis Castle is situated beside the village of Glamis in Angus, Scotland. It is the home of the Earl and Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne.

Glamis Castle has been the home of the Lyon family since the 14th century, though the present building dates largely from the 17th century. Glamis was the childhood home of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, wife of King George VI. Their second daughter, Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, was born there.

There is much folklore surrounding Glamis Castle and stories abound which say that it’s the most haunted castles in Scotland.

From the book The Lore of Scotland by Westwood and Kingshill, there’s this story:

“Legend attracts legend. Glamis Castle’s reputation as the most haunted house in Scotland — perhaps in all of Britain — has gathered around it a bewildering array of hauntings historical and romantic.

From the very beginning, the castle came under supernatural attack. The original plan was to build on the Hill of Denoon, (associated later, if not at that time) with the fairies, but each time that the foundations were laid the work was undone by earthquake or whirlwind. Finally, a “dark prophetic cry” was heard: ‘Build not on this enchanted ground; ‘Tis sacred all these hills around.’ The architects took the hint and moved operations. This story has many parallels: “disputed sites” of castles and particularly churches are reported all over Britain and beyond.

More localized is the tradition connecting the castle with MACBETH whose ghost is said to haunt the castle in expiation of his murder of Duncan; in the 19th century, the very room was shown in which the deed was done. Shakespeare locates the murder only at a castle in Inverness, but Macbeth’s titles as Thane of Glamis and of Cawdor have led to associations with both places.

An older report is the Malcolm II was the victim — the 14th century chronicler John of Fordun relates that the king was slain treacherously at Glamis, though sources closer to the date of Malcolm’s death in 1034 imply that he met a natural end. According to the 15th century Book of Pluscarden, the man stabbed here ‘when naked in bed and unsuspecting’ was the Lord of Glamis known as the ‘Whyte Lyon,’ murdered in 1382 by Sir James Lyndsay of Crawford. Thus began a feud between the Lyndsays and the Lyons, Earls of Strathmore, that lasted nearly 300 years. Prior to his death, the Whyte Lyon is said to have acquired an heirloom, the Lyon Cup, by some dark means. Although counted as a “luck” necessary to the survival of the Lyon family, its possession has not kept misfortune at bay. It is sometimes said that the odd happenings at Glamis are attributable to its influence.

in 1537, Janet Douglas, widow of the sixth Lord Glamis, was convicted of practicing witchcraft against the life of James V. She died at the stake on Castle Hill, Edinburgh, in 1537; too late it was discovered that the witnesses against her had perjured themselves. It is possible that this event gave rise to the story that the castle is haunted by the wraith of a witch, surrounded by the flames in which she died, though Janet Douglas is said to appear as a “grey lady” in the family chapel.

Other ghosts have little or no background to explain their hauntings. The pageboy that sits outside one of the bedrooms; the ‘tongueless woman’ tearing at her mouth; the lunatic spectre who follows the ‘Mad Earl’s Walk’ along the rooftop. These crop up in modern tellings but none of them have the romance of the Secret Chamber inside Glamis.

The tradition is that there is one room in the castle which has never been identified, although it has a window — or to put it another way, there are more windows on the outside than can be found on the inside. There is something about this particular mystery which is peculiarly uncanny, and perhaps the elaborations spoil it, but they are too rich to leave out.

A brief reference comes from Sir Walter Scott, who spent a night at Glamis in 1791:

“I was conducted to my apartment in a distant corner of the building. I must own, that as I heard door after door shut, after my conductor had retired, I began to consider myself too far from the living, and somewhat too near to the dead… In a word, I experienced sensations, which, though not remarkable either for timidity or superstition, did not fail to affect me to the point of being disagreeable, while they were mingled at the same time with a strange kind of pleasure, the recollection which affords me great pleasure at this moment.”

Scott also says that the castle contains a Secret Chamber, the entrance by which, by law or custom of the family, must only be known by three people at once. If Scott himself was the third person, he keeps counsel, describing the room only as a ‘curious monument of feudal times’ implying that it was merely used as a refuge.

The other legend attached to Glamis Castle is that of a grotesque child born several hundred years ago and concealed in a chamber constructed within the thickness of the walls. As each heir to the earldom came of age he was told the terrible truth and shown the monster — immensely strong, hairy, with a barrel-like body, tiny arms and legs, and no neck. This unfortunate creature was said to have lived until the 1920s, for all that time the rightful earl, but never acknowledged or seen but by the acting earl and a factor.”



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