Glamis Castle is one of maybe three or four structures that can lay claim to the title of the most haunted building in the UK The castle is set in fine countryside beside the Dean Water about 15 miles north of Dundee and is the seat of the Earls of Strathmore and Kinghorne. The current Queen Mother is the daughter of the 14th Earl. She was formerly Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon and her daughter Princess Margaret was born in the castle. The castle is still used as the principal home of the family and the Queen Mother regularly spends time there. Although it is said to contain many ghosts, tradition has it that members of the Bowes-Lyon family are unable to see them.
To describe all the fascinating ghosts that are said to exist at Glamis would take a complete volume in itself, so here it has been decided to concentrate on just a few of them. One of the ghosts about which little is known is one that haunts the grounds of the castle on moonlit nights. His ghostly, but harmless, figure has been seen running across the grass and he is known as Jack the Runner. Maybe he is a forerunner of the 'streakers' that seems to haunt grassy spaces in modern times! More sinister is the story of a ghost who appears to have a bloody mouth. No doubt a modern interpretation would include talk of vampires but although a more mundane explanation is widely accepted, it is no less grisly. It is said that the ghost belongs to a female servant of an early Earl who witnessed a brutal crime. In order to silence the woman for ever more, the miscreant cut out the poor maid's tongue and she died of the shock.
There is a little more detail known about the ghost called Earl Beardie. Some say he was the first Lord Glamis, others that he was one of the Earl's friends, a Lord Crawford. In any case he won his sobriquet by virtue of his long straggly beard. If it was the 1st Earl, that would place the events that are said to have led up to the haunting at about 1459. These days, the condition that the Earl suffered from would be well recognised as that of compulsive gambling. He was known to gamble with dice and cards and with anyone with the wherewithal, for long periods well into the night.
It is said that one night he was gambling with friends in one of the tower rooms at Glamis Castle. He was losing badly and as the evening wore on, became more and more bad-tempered, swearing and drinking to excess. In the end his friends could stand no more and told him that if he did not moderate his behaviour they would leave him. This made the Earl even angrier and he told them that they could do as they wished for if they would not remain with him he would play with the devil! At that remark, the devil himself is said to have appeared and demanded a game with the Earl.
The Earl continued his losing streak and is said to have died a few days later. Since that night the strangled cries of the angry Earl can sometimes be heard in the tower. Some are reputed to have seen the ghostly figure with a straggly beard; a man condemned to play with the devil repeatedly. Sometime around the early part of the 19th century, one of the Earls of Strathmore, Patrick, is said to have fathered a son who was born badly misshapen with an excess of hair on his body. Although the detail of his deformity and whether or not he was mentally retarded, is not known it is clear that in early Victorian times, such a misfortune in a family would have been a source of great shame.
The shame would have been even more acutely felt if, as in this case, the child had been a first-born son and heir to a great title and estates. The Earl decided to keep his son hidden from the rest of the world and kept him locked away in a secret room within the castle. Only a few trusted servants knew of the secret or had contact with the poor unfortunate for the rest of his life, which some say lasted almost 100 years. The story might have been laid to rest there but, just like today, such secrets were bread and meat to the gossips of the time and rumours got around about the existence of the sad freak. No doubt fuelled by these rumours, stories started to emerge about visitors to the castle being accosted by a hairy vision.
In 1869 a Mrs Munro is said to have been woken by a hairy man and others tell similar stories about grunting sounds being heard during the night. Whether these are ghost stories or accounts about aOnosts real person is not all that clear since some, like that related above, took place while the person was still alive. Maybe the grunts were just someone snoring but whatever the truth, it is well guarded by the family. It is said to be known only to the Earl, his heir and the estate factor. It is also apparent that the secret is a source of immense sorrow to the family.
When asked about the great secret, the 13th Earl is said to have replied that if the questioner knew what the matter was, he would thank God that it was not his own affair. The rumours suggest that when the poor man died he was placed in his coffin and was then bricked up in his secret room. It is said that the only trace of him left is that of his ghost exercising along a rooftop walk known as the 'Mad Earl's Walk'. Ghosts of women often go by the name of 'Grey Lady' or 'White Lady' because that is how they appear to the observer; wraith-like, semi-transparent and colourless. Glamis Castle has both a White Lady and a Grey Lady. The Grey Lady is particularly interesting.
She was seen in the castle chapel by the late Lady Granville, the Queen Mother's sister, and also by a previous Earl. The Grey Lady is said to be the ghost of Janet Douglas who became Lady Glamis, the widow of the 6th Earl, John. Later on, she was married to Campbell of Skipness in Kintyre. The king at the time was James V of Scotland who came to the throne when he was only 12 years old. His father had been killed at Flodden Field some years before. In the interim, various nobles effectively ruled Scotland, and even after he became king he was only kept in power by one noble or another. To make things worse, the auld enemy, the English, invaded in 1542.
All this must have made him feel pretty insecure and he was always on his guard against some insurrection both from within as well as without Scotland. During that period the Douglas clan was particularly powerful. A charge of trying to poison the king was fabricated by a distant relative, William Lyon and laid against Janet Douglas, Lady Glamis, her husband, Campbell of Skipness and Lord Glamis her eldest son. His motive was presumably the prospect of seizing the Glamis estate for himself. The king attacked the family at Glamis Castle, which was besieged and captured. The son was kept in gaol until James died in 1542, whereupon he was given back his estates and castle. His mother and her husband were not so lucky; she was accused of being a witch and taken from her cell onto the Castle Hill where she was covered in pitch and burned at the stake.
Such was the distress of her husband who, with his son, was forced to watch the spectacle that he threw himself from the battlements the very next day. Lady Glamis' spirit found its way back to Glamis Castle where it is said to appear to warn the Bowes-Lyon family of impending disaster. Also within the castle there is a room called the Haunted Chamber. It is now sealed up but is said to be the scene of a notorious deceit inflicted on a neighbouring clan by the Glamis family. The nearby Ogilvies were fighting with the Lindsays. On one infamous occasion, the Ogilvies were in full retreat and pleaded with Lord Glamis for sanctuary within the castle. He inveigled them into a secret room in the castle but instead of protecting them, he locked them in and then proceeded to starve them to death. The reason for such a disgraceful act is not known but it is said that on occasion, the cries of the starving men can still be heard.
Other haunted rooms include one called the Hangman's Chamber. It is haunted by the ghost of a butler who strung himself up there, and there are also said to be rooms where the furniture occasionally takes the form of that from a bygone age. The castle has one further claim to fame; it is the setting of Shakespeare's famous play Macbeth in which, of course, there is a famous ghost. Shakespeare wrote the play in about 1605 but It is not known if that coincides with the beginning of Glamis Castle's notoriety. Female Ghost | Green Lady | Lauder | Aberdeenshire | Angus | Barcaldine | Barcaldine | Birmingham | Bishop Cameron | Bladnoch | Braemar | Carlow | Doncaster | Dublin | Dumfriesshire | Essex | Female Ghost | Ghost | Goatfell mountain | Green Lady | Green Lady | Ireland | Ireland | Ireland | Kent | Leap | Loch Fyne | Nairn | Pontefract castle | River Tyne | Scotland | Scotland | Scotland | Scotland | Shropshire | Southeastern Ireland | Sussex | The female ghost | Witchcraft |
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