Glamis Castle was begun as early as the eleventh century and has a long and storied history, but today it is most famous as the childhood home of Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, who became the Queen Consort of King George VI of the United Kingdom and later the much-beloved Queen Mother of the present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. Queen Elizabeth’s younger sister, Princess Margaret, was born at Glamis Castle.
In Scotland Glamis Castle is second only to Balmoral Castle as a stop on a tour of royal residences. The current owner, the Earl of Strathmore, is the queen’s great-nephew. His family, the Lyons, has owned this Scotland castle since 1372, when it was gifted by Robert II of Scotland to Sir John Lyon. The present Earl maintains the Glamis Castle library, the royal apartments, and the sculpted grounds.
In Scotland Glamis Castle is somewhat architecturally unique, resembling a French chateau like Chenonceau more than a medieval fortress like Stirling Castle. There has been some kind of fortress on the site for over a 1,000 years and the medieval turret at the center of the castle main keep of the castle dates from the 1300s. Most of the current Glamis Castle, including the majestic towers, was built the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when the building was no longer used as a defensive structure.
In Scotland Glamis Castle (pronounced “Glamz”) is as famous for the mythology surrounding it as for its history. Shakespeare named his tragic hero Macbeth Thane of Glamis, and for many years this Scotland castle was thought to be the site where Macbeth murdered King Duncan. (Duncan’s ghost was even rumored to haunt Glamis Castle.) Other ghosts are also supposed to haunt Glamis Castle library and its many halls and rooms. A seat in the castle’s chapel is reserved for the legendary “Grey Lady”; a long-dead Earl is said to still be playing a game of cards in one of the bedrooms; the ghost of Lady Glamis, who James V had burnt as a witch, has been “sighted” haunting the halls; and the body of a deformed child is supposedly still resting in a bricked-up room.
Like Brodick Castle on the Isle of Arran, Glamis Castle features on the Bank of Scotland’s banknotes. Glamis Castle is located about 12 miles north of the major Scottish city of Dundee, and about 80 miles north of the Scottish capital, Edinburgh. Public transportation runs from Dundee to the town of Glamis, except on Sundays. Glamis Castle is open to the public from March until December, from 10 am to 6 pm (the last tour leaves at 4:30 pm). In addition to Glamis Castle library, visitors should look at the exquisitely carved ceilings, the tea room, and the extensive grounds, which include a large arboretum with trees from around the world.