Probably the most haunted building in Scotland is the mighty Glamis Castle. This grand edifice plays host to a variety of grisly spectres and eerie tales. With its many towers and turrets, the majestic castle has an almost fairy-tale appearance, yet throughout the centuries, numerous visitors have experienced all manner of creepy occurrences and inexplicable phenomena.
Glamis Castle is situated near the town of Forfar in the Angus region of Scotland. There was a hunting lodge on the site as far back as the 11th century although the central part of the current castle dates from the early 1400s, with various embellishments added in the 17th century. The land was granted by King Robert II to the Lyon family in 1372, of which the present owners are distant relations. The Queen Mother spent much of her childhood at Glamis and Princess Margaret was born there.
It is difficult to ascertain fact from fiction regarding the mysterious events surrounding the castle's history. The tragic end of Janet Douglas, Lady Glamis in the 16th century is thought to be the origin of one of the most well known hauntings. King James V of Scotland had a personal vendetta against the Douglas family, a quarrel that resulted in Janet being imprisoned within the dungeons of Edinburgh Castle, despite the fact that she was innocent of any wrongdoing. In order for King James to obtain a confession however, he had Janet's servants and clansman brought to Edinburgh castle where they were stretched on the rack. Janet's son was forced to watch these horrific scenes before undergoing torture himself. The King's barbarous tactics proved effective with Janet inevitably yielding to the trumped up charges brought against her. She was accused of witchcraft and burnt at the stake on 17th July 1537.
The grey lady which is said to haunt the chapel at Glamis is thought to be the unquiet spirit of Janet Douglas. There is a profoundly melancholic atmosphere within the chapel and it is said that her presence is heralded by an ominous knocking, possibly the sound of the scaffold she was executed on being constructed. Janet's ghost has also been sighted above the castle's clock tower.
Another ghostly lady is said to roam the castle grounds. This figure has been sighted on numerous occasions. Eyewitness accounts say she is pointing to her mouth, which appears to have no tongue. The identity of this tongueless woman is unknown, although a number of theories have been advanced over the years. Some say she was a servant girl who unwittingly stumbled upon one of the castle's many secrets and to ensure her silence, the owners had her tongue torn out.
It is rumoured that there is a lingering bloodstain somewhere within the castle. The stain proved unresponsive to scrubbing so was subsequently boarded over. Apparently the spilled blood belonged to King Malcolm II, who was supposedly murdered at the castle, although this does seem unlikely as Malcolm was killed in 1034, long before the present castle was built.
A long time ago a visitor at Glamis noticed something very strange whilst surveying the view from his chamber late at night. In the window opposite he caught sight of a ghostly face peering back at him. There was an awful sadness about this ethereal face, and it appeared to be trying to draw the onlooker's attention. Then all of a sudden it disappeared, as if spirited away by an unseen force. There then followed a series of blood-curdling shrieks. Some time after the guest observed a figure resembling a decrepit old woman slowly wandering around in the moonlight below. She appeared to be carrying a large bundle on her back. Moments later the figure vanished into thin air!
The phantom known as 'Jack the Runner' is so-called because it apparently flits around the castle grounds. Some say it is the spirit of a black slave boy who was horribly murdered back in the 17th century. The Earls are said to have hunted the boy like game, impaling him with lances before having their unfortunate quarry torn apart by ravenous hounds. All the while the ladies of the castle observed this terrible spectacle from the building's ramparts.
It is suspected that Glamis Castle features a number of hidden chambers. These secret rooms form the subject of much intrigue and speculation. In 1486 members of the Ogilvy Clan sought sanctuary at Glamis from their enemies the Lindsays. However, unknown to the Ogilvies, the owners of the castle actually sided with the Lindsays. The Ogilvies were locked into one of the secret chambers and left to starve to death. The unventilated chamber was opened up many years later by Lord Strathmore. He was greeted by a pile of skeletons, the remains of the unfortunate Ogilvy Clan. There was evidence that in a desperate attempt to ward off hunger, some of them had actually eaten the flesh from their own arms.
A traditional story of Glamis is that of Earl Beardie, the nickname for a 15th century lord who gambled on the Sabbath and paid a terrible price. It is said that when the castle's guests refused to join him in a game of cards, Earl Beardie proclaimed that he'd play with the Devil himself. Just before midnight a sinister visitor entered the Earl's chamber and joined him in a game. Legend has it that this man was none other than the Prince of Darkness. The Earl died a few years after and it's believed that he still haunts Glamis, sentenced to gamble until doomsday. In the vaults of the castle there is a bricked up chamber where the sounds of heated arguing and the rattle of dice have been heard emanating from within. The ghost of Earl Beardie has also been sighted elsewhere in the building. Whilst staying at Glamis in the 1870s, the wife of the Archbishop of York awoke in the middle of the night to see a bearded man looming over her - the long dead Earl perhaps?
One of the most enduring legends of the castle is the 'Monster of Glamis'. In the early 1800s, the eldest son of the 11th Earl married a woman called Charlotte Grimstead, and it is said that their first born, a boy, was tremendously deformed. Descriptions of the child say that he essentially resembled an egg, with a barrel chest, no neck, and spindly toy-like limbs. Official records state the child died on the day of birth, however a rumour developed that the boy actually lived on and was housed within a secret chamber. It is said that only a select few were privy to this child's existence and the whereabouts of his room. Intrepid visitors to Glamis have made a number of attempts to find this room. One of these involved a group of guests hanging towels from all the building's windows while the owners were out shooting. When they went outside to inspect their handiwork, they noticed that several windows didn't have towels. Before they were able inspect further however, the owners returned and ordered them off the property. The exact locations of the castle's secret rooms remain a mystery to this day.
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