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Lair of the Beasts: The Creature in the Castle
A Glamis Ghoul
By Nick Redfern
August 04, 2012
Seeking the monster of Glamis
Situated just west of Forfar, Scotland, Glamis Castle is referred to by Shakespeare in Macbeth; Macbeth of its title having killed King Duncan there in 1040. And it is also at the castle where assassins murdered King Malcolm II in 1034. In addition, Glamis Castle was the childhood home of both Queen Elizabeth II and the Queen Mother, and the birthplace of Princess Margaret. And then there is the castle’s very own monster.
Jon Downes, a good friend of mine and the director of the British-based Center for Fortean Zoology – one of the few full-time groups dedicated to the search for unknown creatures - notes that: “...the castle is the site of a well known and semi legendary beast known as the Monster of Glamis. It’s said that the creature was supposed to have been the hideously deformed heir to the Bowes-Lyon family and who was, according to popular rumor, born in about 1800, and died as recently as 1921.”
Jon digs further into the puzzle: ‘”Legend has it that the monster was supposed to look like an enormous flabby egg, having no neck and only minute arms and legs but possessed incredible strength and had an air of evil about it. Certainly, there is a family secret concerning the monster, which is only told to the male heir of the Bowes-Lyon family when they attain majority.”
He continues: “But according to the author Peter Underwood, who has looked into this case, the present Lord Strathmore knows nothing about the monster, presumably because the creature has long been dead, but he always felt that there was a corpse or coffin bricked up behind the walls.”
According to folklore and oral tradition, the existence of the terrifying creature was allegedly known to only four men at any given time, namely the Earl of Strathmore, his direct heir, the family’s lawyer, and the broker of the estate. At the age of twenty-one each succeeding heir was told the truth of the terrible secret and shown the rightful – and horrendously deformed – Earl, and succeeding family lawyers and brokers were also informed of the family’s shocking secret.
As no Countess of Strathmore was ever told the story, however, one Lady Strathmore, having indirectly heard of such tales, quietly approached the then broker, a certain Mr. Ralston, who flatly refused to reveal the secret and who would only say by way of a reply, “It is fortunate you do not know the truth for if you did you would never be happy.”
So, was the strange creature of the castle a terribly deformed soul with some bizarre genetic affliction or something else? While the jury, inevitably, remains steadfastly out, it’s an intriguing fact that in 1912, in his book, Scottish Ghost Stories, Elliott O’Donnell published the contents of a letter that he had received from a Mrs. Bond who had spent time at Glamis Castle and who underwent an undeniably weird encounter while staying there.
In her letter to O’Donnell, rather notably, Mrs. Bond described a somewhat supernatural encounter with a beast that was possessed of nothing less than distinct ape-like qualities, rather than specifically human attributes.
Might it be the case, then, that the beast of Glamis was not simply a man with appalling genetic abnormalities, but some terrifying ape-like beast – a definitive wild-man or ape-man, perhaps? Not surprisingly, the truth – whatever it may one day prove to be – remains hidden behind closed doors. Just like the creature itself...
Nick Redfern’s book The World’s Weirdest Places will be published in September by New Page Books.