The Glamis Castle (Scotland)

The grim forbidding Glamis Castle stands in the great vale of Strathmore in Tayside, in the north-east of Scotland. For centuries the vast fortified castle with its pointed towers has had a sinister reputation for housing an unspeakable, terrible secret, but just what is this dreadful secret? It is said that only certain members of the British Royal Family know, but there have been whispers and bloodcurdling rumors circulating about the secret of Glamis Castle for hundreds of years, and these strange claims are the subject of the following accounts.

It is known that the Glamis Secret has nothing to do with a stubborn bloodstain that cannot be removed from the floorboards in one of the castle rooms. That stain is the blood of King Malcolm II, who was cut down by the Claymore swords of his rebellious subjects in the castle in the year 1084; nor is the secret anything to do with the fact that Lady Glamis was burnt at the stake outside the castle for practicing witchcraft, although her ghost still walks the corridors of Glamis as the Grey Lady. No, the secret of Glamis Castle lies in solving the following grotesque jigsaw puzzle of weird events.

If you stand outside the castle and count the number of windows, and compare them with the number of windows inside the building, you will always be two windows short; in other words, there seems to be a walled-up secret room in Glamis, and what this room contains has been the subject of much debated for over 600 years. No one knows where this secret room is, but some say it is on the top story of the castle inside a tower. Then there is another clue; over the centuries, servants have claimed to have heard strange thuds on the walls of the building, and one of the Earls of Strathmore said he once overheard King James V mentioning the thing locked up in its room. Many servants at the time speculated that the 'thing' was a deformed overgrown child, the product of the continual inbreeding over the centuries within the aristocracy. Some researchers believe this might just be the case, for in an oil painting at the castle, there is a strange green-clad figure of a child with a strangely-deformed torso. The identity of the painting's subject has never been established.

In the year 1486, a particular nasty event occurred at Glamis Castle when a party of neighboring aristocrats called the Ogilvies came to Glamis and begged for protection from their sworn enemies, the Lindsay family. The Ogilvies were escorted to a chamber under the castle and left there without food or water for over a month. When the chamber was opened, only one of the Ogilvies was barely alive. He had eaten the other members of his family through starvation. In the 17th century, it was said that an unfortunate black slave was stripped naked and hunted 'as fun game' by the Earls and their hunting dogs. The slave was repeatedly impaled with lances and the dogs literally ripped him apart while the ladies of the castle looked on in laughter. The murdered slave's ghost may be the strange figure known as Jack the Runner, who has been seen darting about the castle as he screams as if in agony.

Around the time the slave was hunted to death, a young maiden from the local village who was involved with one of the Earls was said to have stumbled on the secret chamber in Glamis, and whatever she saw must have been terrifying, because she ran screaming from the castle, and was later captured by two Royal henchmen. One of these henchmen took a pair of iron tongs, ripped out the young lady's tongue and threw it on the fire. This is known as the ritual of silencing, and had been performed on several servants over the years who had inadvertently stumbled upon the Glamis secret. The shock usually killed the victim or they bled to death. But the poor young maiden ran out of the castle dungeon minus her tongue in a state of terror with blood spurting out of her mouth. The henchmen went after her and one of them grabbed her in a headlock and twisted her head until her neck broke. The body was then meticulously sawed up and fed to the wild boars in the forest.

The unmentionable secret of Glamis was briefly touched upon in 1904 when the 13th Earl of Strathmore, Claude Bowes-Lyon, told an inquisitive friend, "If you could only know the nature of the terrible secret, you would go down on your knees and thank God it were not yours." The meaning of the Earl's cryptic remark only deepens the mystery, but the friend he spoke to later claimed that he had found the secret chamber, and he was quickly bundled off to the colonies; some say he was sent to Australia.

Earlier this century, when the daughter of the 14th Earl of Glamis asked what the secret was, her father told her, "You cannot be told; for no woman can ever know the secret of Glamis Castle."

It is claimed that certain members of the Royal Family know of the terrible secret, and they are all males. It is said that they are traditionally told on their 18th birthday, but none of the Royals has ever commented on or denied the secret of Glamis Castle.

From Strange But True by Tom Slemen (Barnes & Noble)

This story reproduced with permission from Tom Slemen

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