Glamis Castle is one of the most impressive, romantic and reputedly haunted castles in Scotland, home to the Bowes Lyon Earls of Strathmore and Kinghorne for hundreds of years and with a splendid interior, and set in beautiful gardens and grounds near Forfar in Angus.
Angus & Dundee: About 5 miles south-west of Forfar, on minor road north of A94, 1 mile north of Glamis village, south of Dean Water, at Glamis Castle.
Private NO 387481 OS: 54 DD8 1RJ
OPEN: Open Apr-Oct, daily 10.00-18.00, last admission 16.30; Nov-Dec: check opening times; groups at other times by appt only. Shop and cafe. Venue for weddings, events and grand dinners.
Tel: 01307 840393 Web: www.glamis-castle.co.uk
Strathmore estates: Web: www.strathmore-estates.co.uk
One of the most famous, impressive and reputedly haunted castles in Scotland, Glamis Castle is a magnificent grand building, consisting of a greatly extended tower dating from the 14th century.
This was altered to an L-plan in the 16th century, and has a large round stair-tower in the re-entrant angle. The tower was heightened, and the battlements were replaced by bartizans and dormers. The
building was extended again, with lower wings and round towers, in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. There is extensive parkland and fine gardens.
The old tower has three vaulted storeys with very thick walls.
The original kitchen was in the vaulted basement, with a huge fireplace and well. A lesser hall, also vaulted, was on the first floor, while the great hall, a fine chamber with a large fireplace and magnificent plaster ceiling, is on the second. There are many private chambers on the floors above. There is a wide turnpike stair rising 143 steps from the basement to the battlements.
‘Glames’ is marked on Pont’s maps and is depicted as a massive tower of four storeys with lower wings.
The predecessor of Glamis was reputedly intended to be built on the Hill of Denoon in the 11th century. The area was supposedly the domain of supernatural beings, and the Queen of the Fairies did not want mortals in her realm. The foundations of the castle were repeatedly cast down, until it was decided to build Glamis at its present site.
Malcolm II is said to have been slain at Glamis in 1034, although if he was it was in an earlier building. Glamis is traditionally associated with Macbeth, and in the old tower is Duncan’s Hall,
but any connection is probably only based on Shakespeare’s play.
In the 14th century the lands were held by Sir John Lyon, Chancellor of Scotland, who married a daughter of Robert II. Patrick Lyon was made Lords Glamis in 1445.
Janet Douglas was the beautiful widow of John Lyon, 6th Lord Glamis, and, unfortunately for her, sister of the Earl of Angus. This meant that she was hated by James V. James had been ill-treated and imprisoned in his youth by the Earl of Angus: the Earl had married his mother, Margaret Tudor, after the death of James IV at Flodden in 1513. James’s spite was extended to members of the Earl of Angus’s family, and Janet was accused of being in contact with her brother and trying to poison the king, as well as on a false charge of witchcraft. The poor woman had no way of escaping James’s wrath and, despite acting with great dignity and bravery, was burned to death on Castle Hill in Edinburgh on 3 December 1537. Her apparition, the ‘Grey Lady of Glamis’ is said to haunt the building, and has reputedly been seen in the chapel and clock tower.
The lands and castle were pillaged by royal forces, and John Lyon, her son, was also sentenced to death, although he was too young for the sentence to be carried out. When James V died in 1542, John was released and he went on to recover the property and title. Mary, Queen of Scots, stayed here in 1562.
In 1578 John, 8th Lord, who was Chancellor of Scotland and Keeper of the Great Seal, was killed in a brawl with the Lindsays in Stirling, and his brother was one of those involved in the kidnapping of the young James VI in the Raid of Ruthven. Patrick, 9th Lord, was made Earl of Kinghorne in 1606, and Patrick Lyon, 3rd Earl of Kinghorne, was also made Earl of Strathmore in 1677.
The castle is still held by the Bowes Lyons, and Elizabeth the Queen Mother, who died in 2002, came from this family. The current earl is Michael, 18th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne.
The ghost of Alexander Lindsay, 4th Earl of Crawford, ‘Earl Beardie’, is said to haunt a walled-up room where he played cards with the devil. Here he is
compelled to play until the ‘day of doom’, and he was certainly a cruel and ruthless character. Indeed, one story is that his mother smothered her own brother so that he would succeed to the Earldom
of Crawford. It is said that Crawford’s ghost can also be seen at the castle of Lordscairnie,
in Fife, on Hogmanay. Another identity for this ghost has been suggested: Patrick Lyon, 1st Lord Glamis, who died in 1459 and is a contemporary of Lindsay, and was also known as ‘Earl
Other stories of ghosts and beasts abound and are widely repeated.
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