The Chain Mail

Welcome to The Chain Mail - a visitor’s guide to the sights and sounds of Historic Scotland

There’s been a murder…


Did you know that one of Scotland’s most infamous and goriest murders took place at Stirling Castle… and it was carried out by the King himself!

Earl Douglas and James II

On the 22nd February 1452, William the 8th Earl of Douglas (head of one of the largest and most powerful noble families in Scotland) was invited by King James II to Stirling Castle to try and resolve growing tensions between them.

William had arrived at the castle the previous day and was cordially welcomed and plied with drink.  The next evening he was dining with the king when the monarch suddenly challenged William on the bond he had drawn up with the earls of Ross and Crawford – a document that would protect their collective wealth and power, but which threatened the monarchy.

When William refused to break the bond, the King replied that he would break it, before pulling out his dagger and repeatedly stabbing the Earl.  His men joined in until Douglas had been stabbed 26 times.  The final blow came literally when one of the king’s men struck the Douglas in the head with a poleaxe, and his body was then thrown from the window to the gardens below.

Today the spot is known as The Douglas Gardens and, somewhat ironically, it is one of the most serene and peaceful spots in the Castle!


About Author

Nicola McCrae

Nicola works in the Marketing Team and has responsibility for Stirling Castle as well as our central properties. She blogs about Stirling and all the fantastic events, stories and people at the site - but is looking forward to discovering wonderful things about the other properties now in her care.

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