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Glamis Castle

"The Castle of Glamis, a venerable and majestic pile of buildings," says
an old Scots Gazetteer, "is situate about one mile north from the
village, on the flat grounds at the confluence of the Glamis Burn and
the Dean. There is a print of it given by Slezer in Charles II.'s
reign--by which it appears to have been anciently much more extensive,
being a large quadrangular mass of buildings, having two courts in
front, with a tower in each, and gateway through below them; and on the
northern side was the principal tower, which now constitutes the central
portion of the present castle upwards of 100 feet in height. The
building received the addition of a tower, in one of its angles, for a
spiral staircase from bottom to top, with conical roofs. The wings were
added, at the same time, by Patrick Earl of Strathmore, who repaired and
modernised the structure, under the directions of Inigo Jones. One of
the wings has been renovated within the last forty years, and other
additions made, but not in harmony with Earl Patrick's repairs.

"_There is also a secret room in it, only known to two or at most three
individuals, at the same time, who are bound not to reveal it, unless to
their successors in the secret._ It has been frequently the object of
search with the inquisitive, but the search has been in vain. There are
no records of the castle prior to the tenth century, when it is first
noticed in connection with the death of Malcolm II. in 1034. Tradition
says that he was murdered in this castle, and in a room which is still
pointed out, in the centre of the principal tower; and that the
murderers lost their way in the darkness of the night, and by the
breaking of the ice, were drowned in the loch of Forfar. Fordun's
account is, however, somewhat different and more probable. He states
that the King was mortally wounded in a skirmish, in the neighbourhood,
by some of the adherents of Kenneth V."

Let us turn now to the ghosts of Glamis Castle.

A lady, well known in London society, an artistic and social celebrity,
wealthy beyond all doubts of the future, a cultivated, clear-headed, and
indeed slightly matter-of-fact woman, went to stay at Glamis Castle for
the first time. She was allotted very handsome apartments, just on the
point of junction between the new buildings--perhaps a hundred or two
hundred years old--and the very ancient part of the castle. The rooms
were handsomely furnished; no gaunt carvings grinned from the walls; no
grim tapestry swung to and fro, making strange figures look still
stranger by the flickering fire-light; all was smooth, cosy, and modern,
and the guest retired to bed without a thought of the mysteries of

In the morning she appeared at the breakfast table quite cheerful and
self-possessed. To the inquiry how she had slept, she replied: "Well,
thanks, very well, up to four o'clock in the morning. But your Scottish
carpenters seem to come to work very early. I suppose they put up their
scaffolding quickly, though, for they are quiet now." This speech
produced a dead silence, and the speaker saw with astonishment that the
faces of members of the family were very pale.

She was asked, as she valued the friendship of all there, never to speak
to them on that subject again; there had been no carpenters at Glamis
Castle for months past. This fact, whatever it may be worth, is
absolutely established, so far as the testimony of a single witness can
establish anything. The lady was awakened by a loud knocking and
hammering, as if somebody were putting up a scaffold, and the noise did
not alarm her in the least. On the contrary, she took it for an
accident, due to the presumed matutinal habits of the people. She knew,
of course, that there were stories about Glamis, but had not the
remotest idea that the hammering she had heard was connected with any
story. She had regarded it simply as an annoyance, and was glad to get
to sleep after an unrestful time; but had no notion of the noise being
supernatural until informed of it at the breakfast-table.

With what particular event in the stormy annals of the Lyon family the
hammering is connected is quite unknown, except to members of the
family, but there is no lack of legends, possible and impossible, to
account for any sights or sounds in the magnificent old feudal edifice.

It is said that once a visitor stayed at Glamis Castle for a few days,
and, sitting up late one moonlight night, saw a face appear at the
window opposite to him. The owner of the face--it was very pale, with
great sorrowful eyes--appeared to wish to attract attention; but
vanished suddenly from the window, as if plucked suddenly away by
superior strength. For a long while the horror-stricken guest gazed at
the window, in the hope that the pale face and great sad eyes would
appear again. Nothing was seen at the window, but presently horrible
shrieks penetrated even the thick walls of the castle, and rent the
night air. An hour later, a dark huddled figure, like that of an old
decrepit woman, carrying something in a bundle, came into the waning
moonlight, and presently vanished.

There is a modern story of a stonemason, who was engaged at Glamis
Castle last century, and who, having discovered more than he should have
done, was supplied with a handsome competency, upon the conditions that
he emigrated and kept inviolable the secret he had learned.

The employment of a stonemason is explained by the conditions under
which the mystery is revealed to successive heirs and factors. The abode
of the dread secret is in a part of the castle, also haunted by the
apparition of a bearded man, who flits about at night, but without
committing any other objectionable action. What connection, if any, the
bearded spectre may have with the mystery is not even guessed. He hovers
at night over the couches of children for an instant, and then vanishes.
The secret itself abides in a room--a secret chamber--the very situation
of which, beyond a general idea that it is in the most ancient part of
the castle, is unknown. Where walls are fifteen feet thick, it is not
impossible to have a chamber so concealed, that none but the initiated
can guess its position. It was once attempted by a madcap party of
guests to discover the locality of the secret chamber, by hanging their
towels out of the window, and thus deciding in favour of any window from
which no spotless banner waved; but this escapade, which is said to have
been ill-received by the owners, ended in nothing but a vague conclusion
that the old square tower must be the spot sought.

Next: Powys Castle

Previous: Wandering Willie's Tale

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