Glamis Castle

Inside Scotland’s Beautiful Glamis Castle

Glamis Castle in Scotland has a rich, insightful, and distinguished history that the castle itself has experienced first-hand throughout the years. It is settled in the picturesque countryside of Angus and is a stunning example of true Scottish heritage. It plays home to the Earls of Strathmore and Kinghorne, though its significant fame can mainly be attributed to when it became the legendary and unique location of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Though the intriguing history doesn’t stop there.

Glamis Caste during the day
Glamis Castle. Source: Wikimedia commons

Glamis Castles History

When it comes to looking at Glamis Castles History, it certainly becomes interesting. There are tales of lords, ladies, knights, witchcraft, ghosts, monsters, and even murder. However, there is far more to Glamis Castle than meets the eye.

Early History

Glamis Castle is said to date back to ancient times. The earliest building that is still present today is the royal hunting lodge which is a fortified house surrounded by a small courtyard. Aside from the royal hunting lodge, Glamis is also made up of wings, towers, and turrets which have been added over time. They have all contributed to making the castle the breathtaking and grand building it is now.

While it was originally a royal hunting lodge, in the 1970’s it was transformed into a warm family home. The history that the castle holds inside of it is simply astonishing.

Royal Beginnings

Glamis Castle has always had plenty of royalty within the walls, so it is no stranger to fine things. In 1372, It became an ancestral home to the Lyon family when King Robert II granted the Thanage of Glamis to Sir John Lyon. The royalty didn’t stop there, however, because, in 1376, Sir John Lyon married Robert ll’s daughter, Princess Johanna Stewart which ensured royal blood for all of Sir John’s heirs.

Queen Elizabeth was sincerely lucky to call Glamis Castle her childhood home and their second daughter, Princess Margaret was also born there. Though there is far more to Glamis Castle than its royal counterparts. Playing witness to over 1000 years of history, there is certainly a lot to be said about this beautiful castle.

Shakespearean Lore

In Shakespeare’s famous play ‘Macbeth’ (1603-1606), the signature character resides at Glamis Castle whereas King Macbeth held no actual direct connection to the castle. Even the dates don’t add up and are essentially inconclusive. In honour of Shakespeare’s play, it is said that the castle contains a chamber called ‘Duncan’s Hall’. It also points to King Duncan I, Malcolm’s grandson and successor though the current castle dates back to the 14th century and in the play, the supposed murder takes place in the 11th century.

While it is possible that the King could have potentially visited the castle, it is unlikely due to the fact that the castle being built a massive 400 years after his time.

Witchcraft in Glamis Castle

Between 1479 and 1722, 2000 Scots were convicted of being witches which resulted in them being burned. Janet Douglas Lyon, also known as Lady Glamis, was one of them. The burnings, which had begun in the 13th century had soon spread to Scotland and females were among the most targeted, especially if they had property or power that challenged the male authority.

King James V, a powerful man, had a burning hate for the Douglas family, so he gladly took the opportunity to accuse Lady Glamis of being a witch when he had the chance. Lady Glamis was then burned at the stake in 1537 without anything ever being proven. It is also said that people were asked to give false testimonies against her.

King James V

When King James V was a young boy, he was kidnapped by Archibald Douglas who was his stepfather. Though it all came back to bite him when James V gained significant power in 1528 and decided that he would take karma into his own hands and plot revenge against Archibald Douglas. However, it wasn’t only Archibald Douglas who faced his wrath, in fact, King James V had set out to destroy the whole family.

Portrait of James V of Scotland
James V of Scotland. Source: Flickr

Amongst other things, this is when King James took the chance to accuse Lady Glamis, who was Archibald Douglas’s sister that had an exemplary reputation, of witchcraft. After he had targeted Lady Glamis, he went on to seize Glamis Castle for the Crown, which he would frequently make use of. The 7th Lord of Glamis, who was Lady Glamis’s son, was also condemned to death by James V, however, he was luckily released when the King died.

20th Century and present day

Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon (HM The Queen Mother) the youngest daughter of Lord of Glamis was born in 1900. She spent a significant amount of her childhood at Glamis Castle and in World War 1 the castle became a military hospital for wounded soldiers in which Lady Elizabeth helped run. She also played a key role in rescuing important contents of the castle after a fire broke out in 1916.

She married Prince Albert, Duke of York at Westminster Abbey on 26 April 1923 and their second child Princess Margret was born in Glamis Castle in 1930.

In 1950 the Castle was first opened to the public and has remained so to the present day.

Glamis Castles Ghosts

While Glamis Castle is pleasing to the eye, there is no doubt that it does hold a small amount of spookiness in its appearance, and there is a reason why. It is said that a large number of ghosts have been wandering Glamis Castle aimlessly for hundreds of years now. You can either catch them pacing around the castle or staring obsessively out of the windows, these days. Some even say that there are far more spooky secrets within the walls of Glamis Castle than people will ever know about.

Since its inception in 1016, it has had countless royal guests and in 1034 when it was still only a royal hunting lodge, King Malcolm II was even assassinated there, so the castle is accustomed to despair. One Glamis Castle Ghost gets far more fame than the others do, and it is the ghost known as ‘Earl Beardie’. He is said to be a dark presence that lurks in the castle and can often be heard yelling obscenities and rolling dice as well as standing over the beds of children.

Earl Beardie is said to be one of the early Lords of Glamis and is remember as being a cruel man. One story that goes around is that he gambled with the devil and lost his soul. Plenty of hideous things have happened inside of this castle and while we may think we know of them, there are far more that we will never know about, one of them being Glamis Castles secret room.

Glamis Caste at night
Glamis Castle at night. Source: Wikimedia commons

The Secret Room

Glamis Castles secret room is something that has never been truly spoken about. There is said to be a grisly secret about this room, and while people may talk, the Lord Strathmore knows the true story which gets passed down to each male when they come of age. We cannot confirm whether this is factual or not, but it is certainly very eery.

It is said that the secret is in relation to Glamis Castles secret room and how it was allegedly found while a workman was completing renovations on the castle and stumbled through a wall and into it. There are plenty of rumours surrounding it saying that he was paid to stay quiet about what he saw or that he was sent off to live in Australia. Some people tell a different story, one in which a maid had stumbled upon the secret and threatened to expose what was in it which resulted in guards being ordered to cut her tongue off.

They were unsuccessful in severing her tongue because she escaped, but soon after, she was caught and brutally killed. People still say that her ghost can be seen running through Glamis Castle silently screaming with blood pouring from her mouth. Though secret rooms are said to be a theme in Glamis Castle, so it is no surprise.

Glamis Castles Monster

If you thought ghosts were bad, it gets worse. The said monster is yet another thing that has come from one of Glamis Castles secret rooms which makes it even more so terrifying. Though, the monster may not actually be a monster, at all.

In the 19th century, one of the secret rooms played home to a deformed son who was sent there to protect the family from shame. He had to spend his entire life hiding from the real world, though sometimes he was allowed on the roof at night to get fresh air. Sometimes, he was spotted by villagers and in the midst of those sightings, came a local legend, now over 200 years old, the ‘Monster of Glamis’.

Though this boy was no monster, instead he was severely deformed. His name was Thomas Lyon Bows, said to have been born on October 21, 1821. However, one inconsistency was that the official records stated he had died the very same day, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Instead, he was condemned to like in one of Glamis Castles secret rooms and hidden from the world.

It is said that the townspeople never truly believed that Thomas had died due to an unnamed midwife telling them he survived, but the lack of a gravestone was another main reason people suspected something was wrong. It is said that what the workman saw in that room was not a hideous creature, but the deformed and scared Thomas Lyon Bows.

Glamis Castles Interior

Inside Glamis Castle is what feels like a whole different world. Stunning high ceilings line the entire castle and it is like stepping into an entirely different era. If you want to explore it virtually, there is an online tour that will guide you throughout the beautiful castle. As you would expect with such an old and historical building, Glamis Castles interior is completely packed with delightful antiques, rare paintings, and unique family heirlooms.

Glamis Castle Fun Facts

  • It is proven that people have lived within the area of Glamis Castle since prehistoric times. To this day, signs of these peoples can still be found.
  • It is said that some of the visitors to Glamis Castle would try to find the hidden rooms when they stayed there. They would go from room to room and hang towels in every window, then they would go outside and see which windows had towels. When they saw windows without towels, they knew that that was a hidden room.
  • Legend says that the Monster of Glamis is in Loch Calder near the castle.
Entrance to Glamis Castle
Entrance to Glamis Castle. Source: Geograpgh.org.uk

There are many reasons that Glamis Castle belongs on your list of things to visit in Scotland. Not only is the architecture stunning, but the history is so rich and in-depth that missing out on a tour would be a big mistake. Very few castles are as beautiful as Glamis which is why it takes the spot as Scotland’s most beautiful castle, and it is easy to see why.

Even the grounds alone are so impressive, even in spring and summertime when the gardens completely transform into an array of colours. Some say that Glamis features some of the most beautiful scenery in that area of Scotland with Autumn making it a gorgeous backdrop of yellows and oranges. Glamis also plays home to some beautiful wildlife including deer and red squirrels which you can easily see when you look into the woods.

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