Hermitage Castle in the Liddlesdale Valley was once described as the embodiment of ‘sod off’ in stone.
It’s a wonderful description. Take a walk around its walls, still standing four-square against all-comers amid wild and remote countryside, and it’s obvious this structure was built to defy.
What’s more it has a history to match.
Originally a wooden defence, first mentioned in 1242, it was replaced in the late 1300’s by the imposing stone fortification now standing; a response to ever more hostile exchanges along the English-Scottish border.
The unusual architecture, designed to allow wood fighting platforms to run the length of the tops of the wall added to its all round aggressive appearance.
Over the years its been a home for William de Soulis, so hated by the locals he was boiled alive, and a tomb for Alexander Ramsay who was starved to death by Sir William Douglas in protest to his royal appointment as Sheriff of Teviotdale.
King David ll, it seems, took the hint and awarded Sir William the post!
In 1566, Hermitage, then the seat of the fourth Earl of Bothwell became entangled in in the muddled love life of Mary Queen of Scots.
On hearing the earl had been injured in a clash with border reivers, she rode 25 miles from her residence in Jedburgh, to be at his side. If walls could whisper what secrets Hermitage could tell.
Hermitage Castle is now a Historic Scotland property and well worth a visit. But, it’s a castle with many steps and is not easily accessible to visitors using wheelchairs.
Please check Historic Scotland website for opening times.