Secret rooms, bloodstained stones and pacts with the Devil have shrouded Scotland’s Glamis Castle in mystery and hauntings. Shakepeare’s Macbeth is rumored to have murdered King Duncan within its walls and Malcom II’s bloody death had stained the floor so violently that the room was bricked up. Did the echoes of these events leave a residue that walks at night?
Glamis’s brutal history may have partly stemmed from its own lords misdeeds with the Devil. One legend tells of a secret room. The second lord of Glamis, in the fifteenth century, was well known for his debauched lifestyle. Famous for gambling, wenching and drinking, he earned the nickname “Earl Beardie” or “the Wicked Lord.” One evening, after failing to find someone to play cards with him on Sunday, he announced that he would play cards with the Devil himself. The knock on the door immediately afterwards was too much of a coincidence but he opened it anyway to admit a tall bearded man wearing all black.
When asked if he would still like a partner in which to play cards, Earl Beardie welcomed him into a small room and closed the door. Servants outside could hear shouting and furniture flying as the men gambled away the evening and into the dark night. At one point, the stranger made a suggestion to which Earl Beardie agreed. One of the servants crept close to the door to see what was happening, at which point the Lord discovered he was being spied upon through the keyhole. He burst from the room to yell at the servant and when he returned, the stranger had left and taken Earl Beardie’s soul with him. Beardie died five years later, his ghost still drunkenly roaming the halls trapped for eternity to return to the room to play cards with the Devil.
Other rooms exist to taunt the curious. During the eighteenth century, a legend started saying that a room held secret so horrible that only the earl of Strathmore, his heir and the steward of the castle would be allowed to view it. The secret so changed the manner of the lords after seeing it on their 21st birthday, some refused to acknowledge the room fearing their sanity would be lost. The most popular theory today is that the room held the remains of a rightful heir born deformed and locked away. The subsequent heirs of his brother, who assumed the title, were shown the man who grew to adulthood within the tiny room, their earldom resting on the belief that they were the true inheritors of the title. Ghost rumors were brought in as a distraction away from the truth of the room, they were more palatable than what was locked inside. In order to find that hidden room, towels were once hung in every window of the castle only to find one that had no towel. No amount of searching has produced a secret entrance to that room.
Glamis has its own white or gray lady. She is believed to be the ghost of Janet Douglas, the wife of the sixth lord of Glamis, James. After his death one morning, she was suspected of killing him but in the absence of evidence, the charges were dropped. She, however, had gained the reputation of being a witch. There was no evidence needed for a trial of that kind, so when she came under suspicion for plotting the murder of the King of Scotland, she was tried, condemned and executed in Edinburgh in 1537. Her ghost returned home and now wanders the halls of Glamis, looking for justice. She is often seen praying in the small chapel she took refuge in those many years ago.
Stacey Graham (WyntersMoon@theshadowlands.net)
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