Glamis Castle, said to be the most haunted castle in Scotland, is the family home of the Earls of Strathmore and Kinghorne. The lands were presented to them by King Robert II (Robert the Bruce) in 1372. The main keep of the Castle dates from the 14th century, the towers and turrets were added later. The Bowes-Lyons family, as the Earls of Strathmore, still own the Castle. The late Queen Mother, the daughter of the 14th Earl, and her daughter Princess Margaret were both born there.
It’s said that Shakespeare visited the Castle and that Glamis was the setting for Macbeth, the Scottish play. There the connection ends – the murder of King Malcolm occurred in the 11th century, Duncan was King from 1034 -1040, Macbeth from 1040 -1057. In the play Macbeth dies at Dunsinane; he actually died at Lumphanan. All these events theatrical or historical took place before the Castle existed
An infamous ghost at Glamis is that of Earl Beardie. In the15th century the First Earl Glamis and Lord Crawford, nicknamed Earl Beardie and Tiger Earl because of his straggly beard, were playing cards on a Saturday night. A servant interrupted them to warn them of the approaching Sabbath. They swore to finish their game; Earl Beardie, a compulsive gambler, who had been drinking and losing badly said he would play with the devil himself. Needless to say the devil appeared and took him up on the offer. Earl Beardie died a few days later and since then his strangled cries can be heard in the tower. Some people have even claimed to have seen a ghostly figure with a straggly beard.
The Ogilvys and Lindsays both took refuge in the Castle under the First Earl after a battle between their clans; neither of them knew of the presence of the other. The Earl took action to ensure it remained that way. He put the fugitives in different rooms and locked the doors. He forgot to unlock the Ogilvys’ room – they starved to death. Their skeletons were found when the room was unlocked years later. Since then loud knocking and the cries of starving men can be heard from the so-called Haunted Chamber.
Legend has it that the Grey Lady Ghost is that of the 6th Lady of Glamis, Janet Douglas, Accused of plotting to kill James V she was covered in pitch and burnt at the stake as a witch on Castle Hill, in Edinburgh in 1537. The Grey Lady haunts the chapel and is also said to appear in the Clock Tower.
The ghost of a young black boy ill treated in the 18th century haunts a stone seat outside the Queen Mother’s Sitting Room.
More gory is the Glamis Monster, the hideously deformed ghost of the handicapped son of the 11th Earl locked up at birth in the early part of the 19th century and hidden in the Castle until he died. His coffin was the bricked up in his secret room. The ghost is said to exercise along a rooftop walk known as the ‘Mad Earl’s Walk.’
Other ghosts associated with the Castle about which less is known include the figure known as Jack the Runner who haunts the grounds and runs across the grass on moonlit nights. More sinister is the ghost of a female servant of an early Earl who witnessed a brutal crime. To ensure her silence her tongue was cut out; she died of shock. Now her ghost runs about the grounds pointing to her bloody mouth.
With so many hauntings in mind it’s hardly surprising that Sir Walter Scott when he visited the Castle said, “I began to consider myself too far from the living and somewhat too near the dead.”
In 2009, the owners of the Castle wanted to put an end to the procession of ghost hunters and to attract a more discerning clientele. The general manager has been reported as saying, “There is absolutely no evidence whatever that there are any supernatural beings in the Castle.”
What next for Scotland? No monster in Loch Ness!
[NOTE: depending on the source used there are variations in the accounts of the ghosts at Glamis. The accounts used have been arranged in date sequence except for Jack the Runner and the maid with no tongue.]