by Gwyn Brodie
On my last trip to Scotland, my friends and I got a chance to visit Glamis Castle. The drive, or "avenue" as it is called, to the castle is a mile long and absolutely breathtaking. It is lined with great oaks planted in the 17th century by the 3rd earl. Many people stop along the way to take photos—including us!
Inside the castle, I felt as if I were in a fairy tale as we moved from room to room filled with beautiful antique objects, drapes and furniture, including a bed in the Kings Room dating back to 1660. One of the rooms is called King Malcolm's Room, named in memory of King Malcolm II who died at Glamis in 1034. It was the private chamber of the Lord and Lady. It is believed that his death was the result of assassination, a hunting accident or mortal wounds from battle.
The estate boasts many amazing gardens. One of which is the Italian Garden with its raised terrace, two small gazebos, and formal beds separated by gravel walks. There is also a water fountain and ornamental gates. While walking the Nature Trail, you might see red squirrels, roe deer or heron and you'll cross Glamis Burn, which has an arboretum featuring trees from all over the world, many of them rare and several hundred years old. The Dutch Garden is private, but can be easily viewed, and has a sundial from the 17th century.
Glamis is located in Angus, Scotland, and sits between the Sidlaw Hills and the Grampian Mountains twelve miles inland from the North Sea. The estate covers approximately 14000 acres and produces several cash crops, including lumber and beef. The castle's location has prehistoric traces, such as an intricately carved Pictish stone knows as the Eassie Stone found in a nearby creek-bed.
It is said that Glamis is the most haunted castle in Scotland, and perhaps in the United Kingdom. There are many myths and legends attached to the castle, but the most talked about ones have to do with a pageboy, two lords and a lady.
The ghost of a little pageboy sits on the stone seat inside the Queen Mother's Sitting Room. He was a mischievous little boy and was told to sit there for his punishment. On the coldest night of the coldest winter everyone retired to their beds, but forgot to dismiss the little boy. He obeyed the order to stay there and during the night he froze to death and was found the next morning still on the seat. It is said that his vengeful ghost has a habit of sticking out a foot to trip up the unwary visitor as they enter the room.
There is a secret chamber at Glamis, of which we were shown the location. As the tale goes, Lord Glamis and his old enemy, the Earl of Crawford, who was called "Tiger" because of his temper, gambled through Saturday evening late into the night. They were disturbed by the servants at midnight begging them to stop playing as the Sabbath was upon them. "We care not what day of the week it is," roared the Lords. "If we have a mind to we shall play until Doomsday." When the first cards were laid on the table early that Sunday morning, the door opened and the Devil stood there. "I will take your Lordships at your word," he said. "Doomsday has come for both of you." It is believed that they still play, and that if you listen at the walls of the room at midnight on Saturdays you can often hear the two lords sobbing and the shuffling of cards.
The Grey Lady, who is said to haunt the Chapel, was Janet Douglas, wife of the 6th Lord Glamis. When he died only a few years after their marriage, she was victimized by King James V who wanted the Castle and hated the Douglas family. He falsely accused her of witchcraft, her two small sons of treason and they all were imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle. The people of Edinburg knew the accusations were false and there were riots in the streets. The king tried Janet and executed her for witchcraft. She was burnt alive at the stake on Castle Hill in front of Edinburgh Castle in 1537 and her spirit returned to Glamis. 151 years after her death, she was seen entering the Chapel where she has her own seat and in which no one else is allowed to sit. She is the most frequently seen ghost at Glamis. We were able to visit the Chapel and sat in front of the Gray Lady's seat. I don't know whether I was hoping to see her, or hoping I wouldn't!
The most famous legend linked to the castle is that of the Monster of Glamis, a hideously deformed child born to the family. Accordingly to the story, the monster was kept in the castle all his life and his suite of rooms bricked up after his death. Guests staying at Glamis once hung towels from the windows of every room to find the bricked-up suite of the monster. When they looked at it from outside, several windows had no towels.
It is believed that the legend of the monster may have been inspired by the true story of the Ogilvies. Somewhere in the 16-foot-thick walls is the famous room of skulls, where the Ogilvie family, who sought protection from their enemies the Lindsays, was walled up to die of starvation.
The late Sir David Bowes-Lyon, while taking a late stroll on the lawn after dinner, reportedly saw a girl gripping the bars of a castle window and staring distractedly into the night. He was about to speak to her when she abruptly disappeared, as if someone had torn her away from the window.
I hope you have enjoyed hearing about Glamis Castle as much as I enjoyed visiting!
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Lady Sorcha MacPherson is betrothed to Archibald Campbell, the Laird of Clifftower Castle, where she is staying until her wedding day. Once she finds out what a cruel and vicious man the laird truly is, Sorcha’s plans change. She refuses to marry him and live the abusive existence she knows she would if she were to become his wife. One night, with the help of Campbell’s own guards, Sorcha, her two guards and maid leave to return home to Blackstone, where her brother, Alexander, is laird. The following day they are attacked by highwaymen before being rescued by the handsome, Galen MacKinnon, heir apparent to Moorloch Castle.
Galen is quite taken with the beautiful Sorcha. And she is most appreciative of his help—until he learns her identity and abducts her to exchange for his brother's freedom, because her brother is holding him prisoner! Campbell chases after them because he wants Sorcha, and especially her dowry. Galen vows the cruel laird—nor any other man but himself—will have her. Will their love survive the deceit, betrayal and danger that greet them at every turn?