... also has scenes set elsewhere in Scotland, and in other parts of Great Britain.

At the beginning of the play, Macbeth is known as the Thane of Glamis (pronounced Glahms). Glamis is just north of Dundee. Quite early on in the play, he is promoted to Thane of Cawdor; Cawdor is some 80 miles from Glamis, as the crow flies – about twelve miles east of Inverness, close to the shores of the Moray Firth.

Shakespeare is not constrained by historical fact here. According to Wikipedia, before he became King, Macbeth was Mormaer of Moray – a 'lordship' encompassing a widespread area, extending for about 50 miles from Inverness in all directions, and even reaching Scotland's West coast – but stopping about 30 or 40 miles short of Glamis. On its Glamis page, Wikipedia explains that Shakespeare's Macbeth "resides at Glamis Castle, although the historical King Macbeth (d. 1057) had no connection to the castle." Glamis did however play a part in the history of Scottish kings in Macbeth's day, although he himself was not implicated: again according to Wikipedia, "In 1034 King Malcolm II was murdered at Glamis, where there was a Royal Hunting Lodge." Malcolm II was succeeded by Duncan I, who was indeed, in turn, slain by Macbeth (or at least by Macbeth's men) six years later – although this happened in battle, and not, as Shakespeare has it, in his bed.

Wikipedia notes that "By 1372 a castle had been built at Glamis, since in that year it was granted by King Robert II to Sir John Lyon, Thane of Glamis, husband of the king's daughter. Glamis has remained in the Lyon (later Bowes–Lyon) family since this time."

As any serious quizzer should know, the late Queen Mother was a member of the Bowes–Lyon family – born at Glamis Castle in the year 1900.

According to Folgerpedia, Shakespeare's play is mainly set in Inverness; Act II opens in "Inverness. Macbeth's castle." Enotes, in response to the question "What is the name of Macbeth's castle in Shakespeare's play Macbeth?", notes also that in Act I, Scene 4, Duncan makes known his intention to visit Macbeth there when he says in lines 42-43, "From hence to Inverness, and bind us further to you".

For what it's worth, I can't help wondering whether Shakespeare is referring to Inverness as the location of Cawdor Castle – whereas in fact it's about twelve miles away. But since (as Wikipedia also points out) the earliest historical reference to Cawdor Castle dates from the year 1454, it probably didn't even exist in Macbeth's day – so the point is moot.

Two more locations that play a crucial part in the plot of Shakespeare's play are Dunsinane Hill and Birnam Wood. In Act IV Scene I, the third apparition summoned by the witches informs Macbeth that he "shall never vanquish'd be until Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill shall come against him." This seems to take us back to Glamis; Dunsinane Hill is about 12 miles west of Dundee, and Birnam Wood was (in its time) about 15 miles further away from Glamis, in a north-westerly direction.

The town of Birnam is across the River Tay from its 'twin', Dunkeld. According to Wikipedia, all that now remains of Birnam Wood is a solitary tree, known as the Birnam Oak.

Shakespeare actually refers to Macbeth's castle as Dunsinane, rather than Glamis: Act V opens in "Dunsinane. Ante–room in the castle." To describe what happens next would amount to a spoiler, so we shall stop there.

© Haydn Thompson 2020