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Glamis Castle

Updated on February 26, 2009

Glamis Castle

Glamis Castle is situated beside the village of Glamis — pronounced Glahmz (in IPA: [ɡlɑːmz]) — in Angus, Scotland. It is the home of the Earl and Countess of Strathmore, who opened it to the public. It is not run by the National Trust for Scotland. Glamis Castle was the childhood home of Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, best known as the Queen Mother. Her daughter, Princess Margaret, was born there. A picture of the castle is featured on the Royal Bank of Scotland ten pound note.

The plasterwork ceilings of Glamis are noteworthy for their detail and preservation. Along with those of Muchalls Castle and Craigievar Castle, they are considered the finest in Scotland.

The castle features extensively in fiction and legend, and according to local legend has more dark secrets than any other castle in Britain.

Glamis Castle

Glamis Castle
Glamis Castle

More on Glamis Castle

Glamis is set in rolling hills approximately 20 kilometers from the North Sea. This region of Scotland is noted for its early Pictish culture as well as Middle Ages events. The Eassie Stone, one of the best examples of early Pictish stone carving, is located nearby. To the south is Scone Palace, the ancient site of coronation of Scottish kings. About 30 kilometers north is Dunnotar Castle.

The grounds upon which the castle sits cover more than 14,000 acres and, in addition to containing lush gardens and walking trails, produces several cash crops including lumber and beef. There are two streams which run through the estate, one of which is known as Glamis Burn. An arboretum overlooking Glamis Burn features trees from all over the world, many of which are rare and several hundred years old. Birds and other small wildlife can be seen throughout the grounds.

There is a tea room in the castle, and part of the gardens and grounds are open to the public. The castle is available to functions like dinners and weddings.

Glamis Castle in the snow, circa 1880.

Glamis Castle in the snow, circa 1880.
Glamis Castle in the snow, circa 1880.

Legends and tales of Glamis Castle

The most famous legend connected with the castle is that of the Monster of Glamis, a hideously deformed child born to the family. In the story, the monster was kept in the castle all his life and his suite of rooms bricked up after his death. Another monster is supposed to have dwelt in Loch Calder near the castle.

There is an old story that guests staying at Glamis once hung towels from the windows of every room in a bid to find the bricked-up suite of the monster. When they looked at it from outside, several windows were apparently towel-less.

The legend of the monster may have been inspired by the true story of the Ogilvies. Somewhere in the sixteen-foot thick walls is the famous room of skulls, where the Ogilvie family, who sought protection from their enemies the Lindsays, were walled up to die of starvation.

According to the official website for Glamis castle, in 1034, King Malcolm II was mortally wounded in a nearby battle and taken to a Royal Hunting Lodge, which sat at the site of the present Castle, where he died.

There is a small chapel within the castle with seating for 46 people. The story given to visitors by castle tour guides states that one seat in the chapel is always reserved for the "Grey Lady" (supposedly a ghost which inhabits the castle). According to the guides, the chapel is still used regularly for family functions, but regardless, no one is allowed to sit in that seat.

The late Sir David Bowes-Lyon supposedly saw a young woman while taking a late stroll on the lawn after dinner. Reportedly, he saw a girl gripping the bars of a window of the castle, staring distractedly out into the night. He was about to speak to her when she disappeared abruptly as if someone had torn her away from the window.

Earl Beardie was a guest in Glamis Castle. One night he was drunk and demanded to play cards. It was the sabbath, and his hosts refused. Lord Beardie was so furious that he claimed that he would play with the Devil himself. A stranger turned up at the castle and enquired if Lord Beardie wanted a partner to play cards with. They began to play in one of the rooms. Later, the servants heard yelling and curses coming from the room. One peeped through the keyhole, and the story goes that a blast of light through that keyhold blinded him. The stranger disappeared.

Many have claimed to hear shouting and the sound of dice rolling. It is claimed that the Earl is still playing cards with the Devil.

The Glamis Faire

Brechin City Brass Band at Glamis

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      Matthew k. 

      8 years ago

      Have any pictures of the monster? Nice biography, by the way.

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