The original, medieval tower house fortress stands in the center of the castle today, but renovations in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries have added wings and rooms around it. It has been the home of the Earls of Strathmore since 1372, when King Robert II of Scotland gave the castle to Sir John Lyon.
Glamis is the childhood home of the present Queen Elizabeth’s mother, her being the youngest daughter of the fourteenth Earl of Strathmore. Princess Margaret was born here in 1930. It is also the setting for Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It is believed that Duncan was murdered here by Macbeth.
The castle has a violent history. There have been murders, executions, witches, illness, and extreme sadness. Legends and myths have grown from these. There is a rumor of a secret room and all the uses it may have had. It is no wonder this is called the most haunted castle in Scotland.
The Chapel and the Grey Lady
On my visit to the castle, I had a strange, overwhelming sadness as soon as I entered the chapel. Then I learned about the Grey Lady. Over 400 years ago, the 6th Laird of Glamis married Janet Douglas. Lady Janet was born into the Douglas clan and her brother was the stepfather of King James V. James hated his stepfather and hated anyone of the Douglas Clan. After Laird Glamis died in 1528, Lady Janet no longer had his protection. She and her son, John, became the focus of King James’ hatred. He confiscated Glamis Castle for the crown and accused Lady Janet of practicing witchcraft. He accused her of making potions to kill him with. The Lady and her son were put into the dungeons of Edinburgh Castle.
Confiscating her home and throwing her in prison was easy for King James, but he found it difficult to convict Lady Janet of any crimes. Her reputation was impeccable and she was highly respected. He resorted to torture. He captured her clansmen and servants and put them to the rack. They were stretched until they screamed out lies against Lady Janet. On July 7, 1537, Lady Janet of Glamis was burned at the stake while her sixteen year old son watched in horror. After the death of King James V, John, the 7th Earl of Glamis, was released and returned to his home. He found all the family heirlooms and valuables were removed by the king. It is said that before James died, he confessed feeling remorse for his hatred and the murder of Lady Janet.
The ghost of the Lady can be seen in the chapel, kneeling in front of the alter as if in prayer. An overwhelming sadness surrounds her. She has also been seen above the clock tower looking over the lands that were once hers.
In the fifteenth century, Earl Beardie, the 2nd Laird of Glamis, was playing cards with the Earl of Crawford late one Saturday night. A servant came into the room to remind the Earls that it was nearing midnight and it was sacrilege to play cards on the Sabbath. Lord Glamis yelled at the servant to get out of the room and stated that he would play cards until Dooms Day if he so desired. A few minutes until midnight, the servant again entered with the same reminder. Again Earl Beardie yelled at the servant and stated that he would play with the Devil himself! At the stroke of midnight, a stranger dressed in black knocked on the door and asked to play cards with them. He threw a handful of rubies on the table, so of course the Earls let him sit in the game. A little while later, a loud argument between the Earls could be heard and when the servant went to check on them, they were engulfed in flames. It seems the Devil caused the Earl to play cards until Dooms Day. His ghost is said to roam the halls. Sounds of stomping feet, swearing and the rolling of dice can be heard from the tower where Earl Beardie cursed God and played cards with the Devil.
The Secret Room
There is a window on the front of the castle that is said to be from a secret room. No one seems to be able to find the entrance to this room. Rumor has it, that this room holds a horrible family secret. The Earls of Glamis are supposedly shown this room on their twenty-first birthday, but the secret is so horrible that they don’t talk about it.
With this room, there are several different legends. A deformed child was kept locked up as the family “monster”. A vampire is born to every generation and this room is where the vampire is kept. A true story is of the Ogilvies. They had hid from their enemies, the Lindsays, and were walled up and starved to death. Maybe this is the room that this occurred.
Throughout the years, there have been many reports of guests waking to faces looming over their beds, covers pulled off, faces being seen from windows and then disappearing, and apparitions running through the grounds. Where there is so much history, whether good or bad, there has to be ghosts.