New for 2017 - The Macbeth Trail

This innovative Macbeth sculpture trail was first proposed by Des Cotton, Head Gardener in conjunction  with Tommy Baxter, the Castle Manager.

The play ‘Macbeth’ was written for King James VI and I after his accession to the throne of England, when he brought Scottish courtiers and Scottish customs to the English court. In 1603 Patrick, 9th Lord Glamis accompanied the King to England and three years later the King elevated him to the Earl of Kinghorne. It is possible that Shakespeare heard stories of Glamis which he used as a fit setting for the grim tragedy of Macbeth. In addition, the story of Macbeth being thane of Glamis could have been adopted by Shakespeare from the history of Hector Boece, the translation of which by Bellenden was the popular and acknowledged history of Scotland in the time of Shakespeare. The slaying of King Duncan by Macbeth in fact took place at Elgin, not Glamis.


Neith Art and Sculpture, collaborative artists who work predominantly in wood, were commissioned to produce a series of seven sculptures. They have used both traditional and modern tools to achieve their aims and have pieces placed UK wide. The Macbeth trail here at Glamis is sculpted out of wood procured from the Estate: Oak, Douglas Fir and Noble Fir. The artists have successfully captured the essence of the play by sculpting major scenes; the work is figurative but captures the madness, mental turmoil and tempestuous weather of the play. This has been achieved by sculpting an abstract, swirling textured wood on the pieces.


In 1040 Macbeth killed Duncan in battle near Elgin, to become King of Scotland. He was crowned at Scone and began his seventeen year reign. 

Macbeth’s life had progressed far towards legend by the end of the 14th century, and it was historians that blackened Macbeth’s name. Among them was Ralph Holinshed who spoke disparagingly of Macbeth in his Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland, 1587. It was on Holinshed’s Chronicles which Shakespeare sourced historical content for his play Macbeth. 

In the Scottish play, Macbeth is condemned as being ‘luxurious, avaricious, false, deceitful, sudden, malicious [and] smacking of every sin that has a name’. 

In stark contrast to Duncan who was referred to as a ‘most sainted king’, Macbeth’s reign is said to have a most negative impact upon Scotland; ‘I think our country sinks beneath the yoke, it weeps, it bleeds and each new day a gash is added to her wounds.’

Shakespeare and Glamis

King James VI of Scotland had befriended the 9th Lord Glamis and often visited the Castle. In 1603 Lord Glamis accompanied him to England where he had united the two crowns. It is possible that Shakespeare heard stories about Glamis and his imagination was fired. 

Among the oldest and eeriest parts of the Castle, Duncan’s Hall commemorates an actual event – the killing of King Duncan by Macbeth, but as we have noted it didn’t happen here! 




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