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Hermitage Castle, Scotland Borders

Beside Hermitage Castle by Barbara Ballard Ruined Hermitage castle, in lonely and eerie moorland, sits beside a tributary of Liddel Water. The drive to the large 14-15th century stone castle is through desolate and deserted but scenic countryside.

It’s a brooding castle with architecture planned so that wooden platforms for soldiers could be inserted along the top of the walls. The castle being near the border with England was fought over many times.

Hermitage Castle by Barbara Ballard Before the four storey stone castle was built a wooden castle, c1242, occupied the site. It was owned by a member of the deSoulis family. He was a twisted and warped man who dealt in murder and witchcraft. The castle was forfeited when deSoulis took part in a plot to kill the king.

Sir Ralph de Neville, an Englishman, held the castle until it was captured by Sir William Douglas in 1338. He imprisoned and starved to death the local sheriff, Alexander Ramsay, in the prison pit. William himself was killed when he supported the English. The third earl of Douglas added the four stone towers.

Hermitage Castle closeup by Barbara Ballard In 1492 the castle came into the hands of the earls of Bothwell when the 5th Douglas earl was accused of underhanded dealings with the English. The castle was home to the 4th earl of Bothwell, lover of Mary Queen of Scots, in 1540. She rode from Jedburgh to visit him when he was wounded in 1566.

Hermitage Castle by Barbara Ballard By the early 1600s the castle was deserted, but it was partly restored in the 19th century. The true history of the castle has become mixed with legend thanks to Dr John Leyden, a ballad writer. The castle is said to be haunted by various victims of Soulis and Alexander Ramsey’s ghost.

A quarter of a mile away is ruined 14th century Hermitage chapel.

Visitor Information

Hermitage Castle
On minor road off the B6399 south of Hawick
Historic Scotland property
Tel. 0 1387 376 222
Open: April-end September, daily, 9:30am-5:30pm
Picnic area

Note When we visited, the castle interior was under extensive repair so we were unable to photograph it.

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