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Ghosts of Glamis: tales from Glamis Castle

A brief look into the ghostly tales from The Queen Mother’s childhood home, Glamis Castle.

Glamis Castle, the historic seat of the Bowes-Lyons family, dates back to 1372 when Robert the Bruce granted the lands as a gift.

The initial construction was a Royal Hunting Lodge, which then developed over the centuries. In the 15th century, the Barons of Glamis was created, with the 9th Lord Glamis created 1st Earl of Kinghorne in 1606. A second title, that of Strathmore was established in 1676 and granted to the 3rd Earl.

The Bowes-Lyons family still own the castle as the Earls of Strathmore. The Queen Mother, then Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon was born at Glamis as was The Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret.

The main keep of the castle dates from the 14th century, and the grand towers and turrets were added later. The castle underwent extensive renovations in the 17th and 18th century with the original tower house remaining at the centre of the castle centuries later.

With the brief background above all said and done, let us get into some of the tales and folklore that are part of the history of Glamis.

The first haunting tale begins in the family chapel where Lady Jane Douglas appears in the chapel. Douglas, accused of witchcraft, was burned at the stake on Castle Hill in Edinburgh in 1537. The charges, contrived for political reasons include her scheme to poison the king. Witnesses claim to have seen her emerge above the Clock Tower as well.

Another tale that has made the rounds is that of a tongueless woman haunting the grounds. She is said to peer from a barred window of the castle as well as walking through the park pointing to her disfigured face. There is no record of who this may be.

There is also the young boy, a ghost of a black servant mistreated a few hundred years ago. There is no name for this ghost that frequents a stone seat by the door of The Queen’s bedroom.

The most popular of the spirits that spook the Scottish is that of Earl Beardie. Known as Alexander, Earl Crawford he was a rather sinister and evil man who rebelled against James II. He roams the castle in the dark of night and is said to hover over the beds of sleeping children. Oher stories have him playing dice in a secret room where some have reported hearing the distinct rattle of dice and vulgarity, typical of a gambling hall.

Additional legends that have made the rounds is the castle being haunted due to an incident involving a chalice and Sire John Lyon. The story is Lyon removed the family chalice from their seat at Forteviot thus bringing a curse upon his family.

Shakspeare also mentions Glamis in the play Macbeth. The murder of Malcolm II supposedly took place in one of the castle rooms although it is rather doubtful. King James VI of Scotland and the 9th Lord Glamis were friends with James visiting the Castle. Lord Glamis joined King James on a trip to England where the sovereign joined the two crowns in 1603. It may be likely Shakespeare might have taken some creative license, using some of the stories he heard and incorporated them into Macbeth.

There are likely to be more ghastly tales from Glamis. If, after reading, you know of any additional spooky stories, please share in the comment section below.

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