Intimidating, brooding and forbidding: "Discover a history filled with intrigue, murder, torture and treason."
What we like:
This lonely and forbidding castle has a gory past reflected by references to it as “the guardhouse of the bloodiest valley in Britain”. It inevitably played a pivotal role in the story of the Reivers, serving as a home and a prison for some of the major players.
Mary Queen of Scots paid a visit that nearly killed her when, returning from visiting the man who would later become her third husband, her horse threw her into a bog and she contracted a week-long fever. Ospreys nest in the area.
In their own words:
"For most of its 400-year life, the castle was the key to controlling the Scottish Middle March.
Known as ‘the strength of Liddesdale’, Hermitage was fought over time and again. Even the building of the castle in the 13th century brought Scotland and England to the brink of war.
The mighty stone castle is built on an impressive platform of earth, which may have been part of an earlier castle complex. The earliest records for Hermitage are for the de Soules residence in the 1240s, but this may have been situated to the west, near the chapel ruins.
English lord Sir Hugh de Dacre began the present castle around 1360. It was transformed beyond recognition by his successor, William, 1st Earl of Douglas, one of Scotland’s most powerful noblemen.
Hermitage was adapted in the 1500s to respond to the threat posed by gunpowder artillery. Gun holes were punched in its thick walls and a massive gun defence was built outside to protect the castle’s western approach.
Hermitage lost its strategic importance in 1603, when Mary’s son James VI of Scotland also became James I of England. Abandoned by its noble owners, the castle was left to decay."
Good to know:
During the winter season you can wander round the outside free of charge.
Where it is: