Welcome to Glamis Castle, the childhood home of Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mother. The castle is outstanding, with high peaked towers, regal gardens, and an undeniably Scottish atmosphere. This monument to Scotland’s heritage is open for visitors to enjoy, offering an opportunity to embrace comforting hospitality and entertainment.
But hidden within the beautiful hallways and corridors lies a fascinating history that dates back to the 1300s. Your visit to Glamis Castle will reveal records about William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, and even the birthplace of Princess Margaret. Glamis Castle is just a stone’s throw from major cities like Edinburgh and Dundee.
We’ll be covering the history of Glamis Castle, how to get there, details to know, and the top attractions to check out while at the castle.
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History of Glamis Castle
Glamis Castle wasn’t the first structure built on its picturesque landscape, as with many Scottish Castles. The Eassie Pictish Stone near the castle was one of the first artefacts constructed at the site.
Then, in 1304, Malcolm II was killed at Glamis, where a Royal Hunting Lodge stood. During this time, it is said that Shakespeare’s Macbeth was also based on Glamis Castle – although the true King Macbeth didn’t live within.
Over 40 years later, in 1372, a beautiful castle was built at Glamis after Robert II granted Sir John Lyon Thane of Glamis the region. While that castle isn’t the one that you can visit today, the Lyon family has been the reigning family of Glamis Castle since its creation. Although Glamis Castle saw minor assaults throughout Scottish history, there is plenty of historical drama to make Glamis Castle filled with a rich history.
In 1528, Janet Douglas, daughter of Master of Angus, was accused of treason. She was charged with poisoning her husband, Lord Glamis, 1528 and burned at the stake in Edinburgh. After that point, James V seized the castle in the absence of Lord Glamis and lived there for some time. Twenty years later, the court was returned to the Lyon family – specifically John Lyon, 7th Lord of Glamis.
Throughout much of the 1600s and 1700s, Glamis Castle was built and extended even further, beginning to resemble its modern grand design even more closely. Although there are some conflicting sources on who the leading architect of Glamis Castle was during this period, sources point to Inigo Jones or William Shaw as the most likely candidates — facets of the Castle, including the central tower, castle kitchens, and the main entrance.
During this time, significant restorations also took place, of which one of the most beautiful was the Baroque Gardens. The gardens of Glamis Castle were made properly, with immense lion sculptures that adorned a sundial, stunning roses planted by English rose growers, and a walled garden that allows walks for the Lord and Lady Glamis around their property in privacy.
Today, the descendants of the Lyon family still call Glamis Castle their home. Simon Bowes-Lyon, 19th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, succeeded the Earldom in 2016 and is a frequent visitor to his ancestral seat.
How to Get There & Details to Know
The rich history of Glamis Castle is written throughout its stone and within the well-kept gardens surrounding it, and it’s well worth taking a trip to Glamis Castle to enjoy it for yourself. The castle is lived in by the 19th Early of Strathmore and Kinghorne, but visitors can visit Glamis throughout the year.
Costs for Entry
Costs depend on when you visit Glamis Castle, but the ticket office generally offers Castle Tour adult tickets for £16, student tickets for £12.50, and child tickets for £10. Castle Tour tickets include a full guided tour of this Medieval Castle, with exemplary information that offers incredible insight into the rich history of the castle
If you’re interested in touring the Castle and Grounds by yourself, adults can expect to pay around £7.50, student tickets for £7.50, and child tickets for £4.50. For more information, check out the Glamis Castle website.
Glamis Castle is open all days of the week, with opening times from 10:00 – 17:00.
How to Get There by Car
Those planning to reach Glamis Castle by car can easily travel from Dundee, the closest town to the mighty castle. The route takes around 25 minutes and is accessible via the A90 and A94.
How to Get There by Transit
If you plan to take public transit instead, guests can take a bus from the Forum Centre in Dundee to Mary Countess Way. From there, Glamis Castle is only a 20-minute walk away from the bus stop.
Attractions at Glamis Castle
Glamis Castle and Glamis Village are stunning parts of Scotland, with many hidden gems you can discover when you traverse the Castle Gardens and within. Here are the top attractions at Glamis Castle you should watch for during your visit.
Explore Glamis Castle’s Interior
Glamis Castle’s interior lets you immerse yourself in the natural history of the region and allows you to walk along the steps that were once walked upon by famous visitors like Mary, Queen of Scots, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, HM Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, and HRH Princess Margaret.
The interior looks remarkably like it would have done throughout history, with period furnishings, suits of armour, hunting trophies, and manicured stone steps. Take a moment to enjoy the dining room, Duncan’s Hall, the Clock Tower outside, and the magnificent drawing room.
Walk through the Surrounding Gardens
The gardens surrounding Glamis Castle are just as beautiful and manicured as the castle itself. There are several gardens and pathways that you can take through the castle grounds you can undertake when you visit.
Italian Garden Walk
On the castle’s east side, there’s a spectacular Italian Garden that was made by Countess Cecilia in 1910 and designed by Arthur Castings. The walk takes about 10 – 15 minutes and bursts with beautiful colours. The Italian Gardens have a wide range of fauna for adults and children, including bees, pheasants, butterflies, and red squirrels.
Nature Trail Walk
The stunning Nature Trail Walk takes you near Glamis Castle’s surroundings through the pleasant woodlands and pastures filled with seasonal flowers and wildlife. The walk through the Nature Trail also takes about 10 – 15 minutes, allowing you to enjoy the full breadth and width of the Pinetum. There’s really nothing better on a hot, clear day during the Scottish summer.
The Macbeth Trail
The Macbeth Trail unabashedly lets those who have visited Glamis indulge in their love of Shakespeare. The trail features seven detailed and spectacular sculptures created by Neith Art & Sculpture. These sculptures depict various characters of Macbeth throughout the infamous story, following its turbulent tones.
The Macbeth Trail takes about 20 – 25 minutes to cover and is a must for lovers of the Shakespearean tale.
River Dean Walk
The River Dean Walk takes you along the stunning winding river that moves near Glamis Castle, with the sounds of nature abound and the sights of various woodland creatures scampering across the trees and grasslands.
The River Dean Walk takes about 15 minutes to traverse and is one of the most beautiful nature trails that you can undertake while visiting this terrific attraction.
Stop by the Statue of King Charles I
Throughout the walled garden of Glamis Castle, you can see several beautiful statues depicting various royal connections. Figures of Charles I dressed in a full suit of armour, with James VI dressed in a stole, Charles II adorned in Roman dress, and James II completing the set of four.
These statues offer a look into the very heart of the custodians of Glamis Castle, dressed up in suits of armour to defend their home from invaders.
See the Eassie Pictish Stone
We’ve briefly touched on the early beginnings of Glamis Castle and the Eassie Pictish Stone that was found near the site of the castle. The slab dates back 1,300 years and depicts what looks to be a promotion for a Pictish church.
While weathered, the Eassie Pictish Stone is preserved remarkably well, and the details upon the stone clearly show deers and other frolicking Pictish creatures. This beautiful piece of ancient, prehistoric history is one of the finest examples of such a thing in Scotland. The trip to the ruined church of Eassie is where the Pictish Stone sits today.
Discover Glamis Castle in Legends & Folklore
Glamis Castle is etched in the stones of history with its involvement regarding major royal players like Queen Elizabeth II and the Lyon Family and the legends and folklore of Scotland. Other than Glamis Castle’s participation in the famous Shakespearean tale Macbeth, plenty of fairy tales, myths, and folklore involve Glamis Castle.
The ‘Monster of Glamis’ describes a confined creature within a hidden castle room. The Monster of Glamis is supposedly a terrifying creature described in several ways, sometimes as shadows and sometimes as a human toad.
Keep an Eye Out for Ghosts at Glamis Castle
One more unique aspect of only some of the most ancient of Scotland’s castles is the presence of ghosts. Glamis Castle is sometimes described as one of the most haunted castles in Scotland, with various spectres and strange apparitions.
Particular ghosts to watch for are the Woman without a Tongue, who can sometimes be seen from the castle’s windows. Another is Grey Lady Ghost of Glamis, who is believed to be Lady Glamis, Janet Douglas, who was burned at the stake.