Posts tagged "Witchcraft"

Glamis Castle

Glamis (pronounced with a silent “i”) Castle is located, coordinate-wise, at 56.62030 North and 3.00240 West. That puts it near the village of Glamis, five miles west of Forfar, in Angus, Scotland. The tourist attraction is the home of the Earl and Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne. It is also the childhood home of Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon who is better known as the Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, the widow of King George VI. This castle is depicted on the reverse side of ten pound notes issued by the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Glamis Castle

Photo of Glamis Castle – Courtesy of PhilnCaz

The estate surrounding the castle covers more than 14,000 acres. Two streams, one of which is the Glamis Burn, run through the estate. There is an arboretum overlooking the Glamis Burn, with trees from all over the world. Many of these trees are rare and several hundred years old.

The vicinity of Glamis itself has relics from prehistoric times. There is an intricately carved Pictish stone known as the Eassie Stone found in a creek-bed at the nearby village of Eassie. In 1034 AD King Malcom II was mortally wounded in a battle nearby and was taken to the Royal Hunting Lodge where he died. This lodge is on the site of the present castle.

From 1372 onwards, Glamis Castle had been the home of the Lords of Glamis who are now the Earls of Strathmore and Kinghorne. Shakespeare’s famous play “Macbeth” was set in this castle although the historical King Duncan was actually killed near Elgin. While the fictitious Macbeth struggles with the ghost which haunts the castle in the play, other specters roam within its walls in real life.

The Hidden Chamber

There is a very well-known hidden chamber in Glamis Castle. There are many stories connected with this chamber. One legend concerns “Earl Beardie”. This man had been identified as either Alexander Lyon, the second Lord of Glamis or Alexander Lindsay, the fourth Earl of Crawford.

It appears that this Earl Beardie was very fond of playing cards. One day, which was a Sabbath, he insisted on indulging in his favorite pastime. No one would play with him. He became furious. He was so incensed at being denied his fun that he shouted, “I’d play with the Devil himself if he were here!

No sooner had he uttered these famous last words, so to say, than there was a knock at the door. The Earl said, “Enter in the fiend’s name.” And the Devil himself walked in.

Soon, the servants heard horrifying sounds coming from the room. One of them could not contain his curiosity anymore. He tried to peer through the keyhole to see what was going on in the room. A sheet of unholy fire blasted him from the presence of the living. The room was permanently sealed up. It is said that the Earl and the Devil are still playing cards in there.

There is another story connected with the hidden chamber which is no less horrifying. It seemed that some Scottish clansmen, seeking refuge from enemies, came to the castle. The Lord of Glamis admitted them. Then he took them to the chamber. They were locked in. The doors and windows were bricked up. The poor clansmen were left to starve to death inside.

One day, a stonemason accidentally knocked a hole in the wall of the room. He looked inside. What he saw was so horrifying that he died from shock. His wife was given thousands of pounds in compensation. She was sent to Australia so that no one will ever know what her late husband saw before he died.

The Seat of Janet Douglas

Not all the legends about Glamis Castle are so hair-raising and heart-stopping. There is a small chapel inside the castle which has seats for 46 but only 45 persons are allowed to be seated there. One seat is permanently reserved for the Grey Lady. This is supposed to be the ghost of Lady Glamis, Janet Douglas. The chapel is used regularly for family functions but no one is ever allowed to use that particular seat.

The Ghost Girl at the Window

The late Sir David Bowes-Lyon did once come upon a paranormal manifestation at the castle. One late evening, after dinner, he took a stroll on the lawn. He looked up at a castle window. He saw a girl gripping the bars of the window. She was staring distractedly into the night. He wanted to speak to her. However before he could say anything, she abruptly disappeared. It seemed like she was forcibly torn away from the window from inside the castle.

The Apparition of Lady of Glamis

A prominent Edinburgh lawyer also had brush with a being from the other realm near Glamis Castle. He had been invited, together with some friends, to have dinner at the castle. As they drove into the castle grounds, they saw the shadowy figure of a woman dressed in white. Surprisingly, she went along so swiftly that she could keep up with their car, right up to the castle doors. Then she disappeared.

Initially, they thought that it was just one of the maids out for an evening walk. Then they were told that all the maids were inside the castle that night and all were accounted for. Thinking back about it, considering that the woman looked so strange and was able to move so swiftly as to keep up with his moving car, the lawyer concluded that he had just had a close encounter of the other worldly kind.

This apparition is said to be the ghost of the Lady of Glamis who became Lady Campbell after her husband’s demise. King James V concocted a charge of witchcraft against her. She was a very beautiful and popular lady with an impeccable character. Nevertheless she was imprisoned. She was kept so long in the dark dungeon that she became nearly blind. Then she was burned alive at the stake outside Edinburgh Castle. Her ghost, known as the White Lady, had been sighted at Glamis Castle for hundreds of years.
The chances are good that present-day visitors to the Glamis Castle in Scotland may still have to chance to come across the White Lady while they are trying to locate the hidden chamber. More about the hidden chamber and the paranormal activity surround the castle can be found in Glamis Castle Part Two.

Further information on Glamis Castle:

Glamis Castle on Wikipedia
Castle’s Website

Hermitage Castle

Hermitage Castle is full of tales with two tails, so to say. The location of Hermitage Castle has the mark of duality. It is in Scotland, in the southern part of Roxburghshire, a few miles from Riccarton Junction, on the north bank of Hermitage Water which is formed by Twistlehope Burn and Braidley Burn to become a tributary of River Liddel, not far from the ancient border between Scotland and England.

Hermitage Castle

Photo of Hermitage Castle – Courtesy of Leslie Rodger

It stands on what is called “debatable land” meaning land that is exchanged between Scottish and English hands during the border wars and skirmishes. Sometimes, its ownership changed hands even without a fight when the incumbent lord of the castle switched allegiance from the Scottish king to the English king or the other way round.

The first castle on the site was a Norman motte and bailey fortification, most probably built by Sir Nicholas de Soulis in the 1242. The mere construction of the castle almost brought Scotland and England to the brink of war. Sir Nicholas was the butler of the King of Scotland. King Henry III of England objected vehemently to the construction of the fortification because it was too close to the border which was then the River Liddel.

Hermitage Castle remained the property of the Soulis family until about 1320 when William de Soulis lost his life and forfeited his lands on account of charges of witchcraft and attempted regicide of King Robert I of Scotland. Here, again, there are two versions of how William de Soulis met his end. The official version is that he died, a prisoner, in Dumbarton Castle. The popular version is very much more interesting:

The atrocities and the haunting of Bad Lord Soulis

William de Soulis, nicknamed the Bad Lord Soulis, was said to have been a practitioner of the black arts. Children in the vicinity of the castle disappeared under suspicious circumstances. It was said that he abducted the children and kept them in the castle dungeon to be used in bloody rituals.

The Bad Lord Solis had an assistant in the form of a familiar called Robin Redcap. The Red Caps was also the name given to bands of robbers in the border regions who had a macabre practice. They soaked their caps in the blood of their victims to attain the signature gory color. In the case of Robin Redcap, the blood of the abducted children was used to summon him.

Robin Redcap promised Bad Lord Soulis that he would not be harmed by forged steel or ever be bound by rope. With such a reassuring guarantee of safety, Bad Lord Soulis had no qualms about dealing with his tenantry as he pleased. The local peasants appealed to the King Robert the Bruce for help. It was rumored that the final straw came when the evil lord of the castle invited the Cout of Kielder and his party to a banquet at the castle. The entire group of dinner guests was treacherously massacred.

Finally, the king was so fed up with being bombarded with the daily pleas of the people that he was reported to have said,

Boil him if you must but let me hear of him no more.”

Taking this as a royal command, the people around Hermitage Castle did just that. First they consulted a wizard, Thomas of Ercildoune aka True Thomas. They wanted to know how to get round the unholy enchantment of Robin Redcap regarding immunity from injury by forged steel and ropes.

The good wizard put on his thinking cap and came up with a simple solution. A belt was made of lead, thus bypassing the mantra against forged steel. Then sand was poured into the belt, thus nullifying the defense against rope. With this special device, the peasants stormed the castle. Bad Lord Soulis was bound in the rope of sand and taken to Nine Stane Rigg, an ancient megalithic circle of nine stones on top of a nearby hill, two miles north-east of the castle. In a ballad, the end of the scourge of Hermitage was celebrated in verse like this,

On a circle of stones they placed the pot,
On a circle of stones but barely nine;
They heated it red and fiery hot,
And the burnished brass did glimmer and shine.
They rolled him up in a sheet of lead—
A sheet of lead for a funeral pall;
They plunged him into the cauldron red,
And melted him body, lead, bones, and all

Thus ended the reign of terror with the perpetrator boiled in a brass cauldron of molten lead wrapped in a sheet of lead. His ghost and those of his victims still haunt Hermitage Castle. The screams which were part and parcel of his nefarious rituals can still be heard coming from inside the castle walls. Sometimes the sounds of demoniacal laughter can also be heard coming from the deserted ruins at night.

The pitiful souls of the children he used in his satanic practices are said to still wander around the castle with broken-hearted sobbing. His dark presence still shrouds the ambiance of the surroundings with an evil foreboding.

Once, every seven years, his ghost keeps a tryst with Robin Redcap at Hermitage Castle, according to the words of the ballad,

And still when seven years are o’er,
Is heard the jarring sound,
When hollow opes the charmed door
Of chamber underground

Incidentally, Robin Redcap is said to be still lurking somewhere in the shadows of the castle grounds, waiting for lost travelers.

Paranormal Activity at the Drowning Pool

The final chapter of this reign of terror has a touch of ambiguity as is common with most tales associated with Hermitage Castle. About a quarter of a mile to the north-west of the castle there is a small mound next to the ruins of a chapel. This mound is said to be the grave of a giant of an Englishman, a Tynesdale baron called the Cout of Kielder.

This cout is said to have terrorized the area wearing magical chain-mail armor which was impervious to blows. He was finally killed by drowning in a deep pool of water in the river. This pool, which is very near to the grave, is known as the Drowning Pool. Whether he was the one and same man as the Cout of Kielder massacred by the Bad Lord Soulis is open to conjecture.

A visitor had once experienced the eerie sensation of being pushed toward the water when he was near the Drowning Pool. Whether there is a ghost lurking in its depths or there is other paranormal activity is open to investigation. More about the castle and its specters can be found in Hermitage Castle Part Two.

Further information on Hermitage Castle:

Hermitage Castle on Wikipedia

Image by Leslie Rodger

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