The Grey Lady of Glamis haunts the family chapel and the Clock Tower of the world-famous Glamis Castle.  Steeped in centuries of tale and legend, the castle has been standing since the late 1300’s, and has seen its fair share of goings-on.  The Grey Lady of Glamis is believed to be Lady Janet Douglas, burned at the stake as a witch in 1537, and who has haunted the grounds of Glamis Castle ever since. Family feuds involving illegitimate children, forced imprisonment, civil wars and seizures of lands and titles fuelled King James V’s hatred towards his stepfather, Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus.  Once married to his mother, Margaret Tudor, tensions had become bitterly acrimonious, to the point that the King held nothing but contempt for the Archibald Douglas and the Clan Douglas. Imprisoned by his stepfather and held against his will, King James V was finally broken free and Janet quickly became the target of his revenge.  Archibald Douglas fled to England, leaving Janet in the firing line.

In 1528, upon the death of her first husband, John Lyon, 6th Lord of Glamis, Janet was immediately summoned for treason, accused of supporting the civil war against the King and of poisoning Lyon.  Charges were eventually dropped, and she remarried Archibald Campbell in 1532, having ceased all communication with her brothers to prove her innocence in any plot against the King.  Janet’s reprieve was short-lived, however, as in 1537, she was once again summoned for treason.

This time, the charges brought against her included being in secret talks with the Douglas clan, attempting to poison the King and witchcraft.  Glamis Castle was confiscated by the Crown, and Janet’s family and servants were savagely tortured until they gave false evidence against her.  Even her young son was forced to watch the torture before he too, was put to the rack.  These testimonies were enough to convict Janet of witchcraft, and she was burned at the stake as a witch in the grounds of Edinburgh Castle.  It is said King James forced her son to watch her agonising death before letting him go.

Many witnesses claim to have seen the Grey Lady of Glamis whilst visiting Glamis Castle, so why not visit it yourself and see if you can spot her?

One of the most famous legends associated with Glamis Castle is that of the ‘Monster of Glamis’; a child born to the family and so hideously disfigured he was isolated in secret chambers within the castle walls, which were sealed upon his death. Legend has its beginnings in 1821 when the first son of the eleventh Earl is said to have been born horribly malformed. To hide this anomaly, news of the child’s death was fabricated to ensure that no-one sought after him. Only those with the hereditary right to be informed are told of the secret upon reaching their 21st birthday. It has been said that some young heirs have laughed and joked in the past about revealing the family secret as soon as they turn 21. For each one who has said it, legend tells nobody has ever divulged the contents of their “coming of age” legacy. Could the Monster of Glamis be real, after all..?

The apparent failure to cover the window of this chamber lends itself to the story of the “empty window” which is associated with the secret room. The story goes, that, upon hearing of the legend of the Monster of Glamis, guests hung towels from every available window in the castle in a bid to find the location of the secret room. Once every window had been covered, they stepped outside to look at the castle…and found one window was still “empty”. A subsequent search of the castle to find the elusive window failed, hinting at the fact that the room may indeed exist. The ‘Mad Earls Walk’ on the castle ramparts is said to have been the place where the malformed Earl was exercised away from the prying eyes of anyone who should not see him.

The legend of the secret chamber of the Monster of Glamis is believed to have been inspired by the infamous “Room of Skulls” – a room where the Ogilvie family sought shelter from the Lindsays and were walled up and left to die of starvation. It was apparently found, quite accidentally, by a builder, who was given money and was sent abroad in an attempt to buy his silence over what he encountered. Another spin on it is that, to each generation of the family, a vampire child (or a child of monstrously superior abilities) is born and must be walled up in the secret chamber. Whilst most of these stories are based in legend, the story of the Ogilvies is, disturbingly, based in fact.