The name Gruoch may not mean much to you, but you may well recognize the title she gained through her second marriage. There is absolutely no reason to believe what you may have heard about her subsequent reputation, though!
Gruoch was a granddaughter of Cinead III, who was King of the Scots from 997 to his death in 1005. She was married to Gille Comgain, Mormaer (Earl) of Moray, who died in 1032. She then married Gille Comgain’s cousin, and it is at this point that pennies start to drop and recognition dawns, because the cousin’s name was Macbeth!
It was through Gruoch that the Moray dynasty inherited both a claim to the kingship and a role in the long-standing feud between rival branches of the Scottish royal house to control the kingdom. Macbeth won that struggle and ruled Scotland from 1040 until his death in battle in 1057.
But was Gruoch, as Lady Macbeth, really the ruthlessly ambitious woman who pushed her husband into committing a series of murders to gain and retain the Scottish crown? That part of the story would appear to have come from the fertile brain of a certain William Shakespeare – but it’s a darned good story nonetheless!