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Glamis Castle is widely renowned as one of the most haunted locations across the British Isles. The sheer number of reports that have occurred there, as well as the folklore that surrounds it, certainly lend itself to this claim.
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There are many reported ghosts that haunt Glamis Castle, but to write about them all here would be a book in itself. So, I’m just going to talk about the ones that have been reported most often.
Perhaps the most reported, certainly the most chilling, is the ghost of the woman with no tongue. She has been seen wandering around the grounds pointing to here badly wounded face. She has also been seen looking out from a barred window within the castle. It is not clear who this spirit might be, or what may have happened to her.
Believed to the be the ghost of Lady Glamis (Janet Douglas), who was burned at the stake for being a supposed witch in 1537. Her first husband was John Lyon (Lord Glamis), with whom she had a son also named John. She was accused of poisoning him upon his death in 1528, but she was cleared of the crime and was free to marry her second husband Archibald Campbell of Skipness. However, in July 1537 she was accused of planning to poison King James V of Scotland, and communicating with her brothers, who were part of several conspiracies against the King.
Although the allegations were clearly false, she was sent to Edinburgh Castle dungeon with her husband (who did escape but was later killed). James could not find any evidence to convict her, so he tortured her family and servants in a bid to “find the truth”. Janet was later convicted and burned at the stake on 17 July 1537 at Castle Hill, Edinburgh.
The ghost of a young servant boy has been seen sitting on the stone seat by the door of the Queen’s room on several occasions. He’s seen as a full bodied apparition, but has never been heard or seen anywhere else in the Castle.
One of the more infamous ghosts of Glamis Castle is that of Alexander Lindsay, 4th Earl of Crawford, also known as Earl Beardie.
He was supposedly a cruel and twisted man who drank heavily. His presence has been seen, heard, and felt all around the castle. Reports of children wakening in the middle of the night only to see a dark figure standing over their beds have been noted.
Many believe he’s in a secret room in the castle gambling with the devil for all eternity. Legend goes, he was visiting the castle one Sunday night and upon returning to his room, he was shouting in a drunken rage for someone to come and play cards with him. Nobody wanted to take him up on his offer on a Sabbath, so he finally raged he’d play the Devil himself. Shortly after there was a knock at the door, it was a tall gentleman in a long dark coat, and he asked if Earl Beardie still needed someone to play cards with him. The Earl agreed to play the man, and they retired to a room in the castle, slammed the door shut, and proceeded to play cards into the night.
There was lots of swearing and shouting coming from the room which could be heard throughout the castle. One of the servants apparently looked through the keyhole out of curiosity to see what all the commotion was about, only to be blinded in one eye by a bright beam of light shining through. The Earl heard the servant outside the door and rounded on him for spying. When he headed back to the room, the man who was believed to be the Devil had gone, along with the Earl’s soul. He’s said to still be playing cards, apparently in a secret room in the castle. His shouts have been reported throughout the castle to this day.
The current and only owners, the Bowes-Lyons family, were originally awarded the land by Robert the Bruce in 1372, for services to his thrown. The Bowes-Lyons family, now the Earls of Strathmore, includes the late Queen Mother, who was born at the castle, and also gave birth to Princess Margaret there in 1930.
The castle, like many others, has undertaken many renovations and additions throughout the centuries. When Mary Queen of Scots visited the castle in 1562, the East Wing was dominated by the main Tower, which was erected in 1435. At this time the castle was enclosed with a fortified courtyard.
During the 17th Century several additions were made to the castle. The West Wing was erected, and a small north-east wing was added, which would house the chapel. The walls surrounding the castle, as well as surrounding buildings were all removed during this time, and were replaced by baroque sculptures and courtyard.
In the mid 1700’s the grounds that lay in front of the castle were landscaped and the line of trees that you see today leading up to the castle were planted. Various renovations and additions continued throughout the mid to latter 1700’s. In 1775, the castle grounds were redeveloped into open parklands by then leading British landscape architect, Capability Brown.
No major renovations to the castle have occurred since the pitched roof of the East Wing was replaced with castellations in the late 1700’s, and reconstruction of the West Wing in a similar style in 1800.
Alterations to gardens, the addition of the Dutch Garden in front of the castle in 1893, and the Queen Mother’s parents addition of the Italian garden in 1910 are the last major alterations to the castle.
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