The Monster of Glamis Castle

Laura Heggs | April 16th, 2017

Glamis Castle, located in the town by the same name Scotland’s county of Angus, has long been associated with tales of the supernatural. Tales of ghosts, witches, and even the Devil himself are wrapped up in the history of this 15th century castle, which was once home to Queen Elizabeth II’s mother.

The Earls of Strathmore have called Glamis home since the 14th century, and it is one of their line who has inspired the castle’s most frightening story. It is said that the castle has a secret room that imprisons a beast, known as the Monster of Glamis.

upload.wikimedia.org
upload.wikimedia.org

On October 21, 1821, the wife of the future 12th Earl of Strathmore gave birth to a son. Records state that the boy was named Thomas, but that he died the same day he was born. Legends state that this child did not die, but that he was born so deformed that just looking at him could make someone go crazy.

If the legends are true, this poor child was locked away in a hidden room. No one thought he would live long, but he grew to manhood and became known as “the Monster.” The Earls themselves were the only family members to know of the secret, and they passed the knowledge down from father to son. Only one servant was allowed to know of his existence, and this servant was responsible for feeding him through a hole in the door to cell. He would also take the Monster on walks, but only on the darkest of nights, when the moon did not shed any light on the grounds of the estate. The battlements that he is said to have walked are still known as the “Mad Earl’s Walk” today.

Despite these intense efforts to keep the Monster’s existence a secret, it is said that a stonemason accidentally discovered the hidden room while performing maintenance work on the castle. This was considered such an emergency that the Earl was called back to Glamis by telegraph message. The Earl then supposedly paid off the mason, who subsequently emigrated to Australia.

Is this story true, or is it just a modern legend? There is no substantiated documentary evidence for Thomas’ existence beyond the day of his birth and supposed death, so he probably did die due to his deformities. The man responsible for writing about the legend and making it publicly known was well-known for his fictitious ghost stories, though he claimed to be a historian when he published the story of the Monster. Given the ability of castles and old houses to inspire ghost stories and legends, it would not be surprising to find out that the Monster of Glamis is nothing but another invented tale. Since everyone connected with the story’s origins is now dead, we may never know if such a tragic figure really existed.

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