Hermitage Castle in landscape.

This evening, I am posting information on the austere edifice known as Hermitage Castle which is located  six miles north of Newcastleton in the Scottish Borders region and about seventy-one miles south of Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital.

Today’s peaceful and gently rolling landscape belies an unruly past. From around the 1200s through to the early 1600s much of the Scottish Borders region was lawless and famed for the activities of the Border Reivers which comprised constantly feuding family groups with no overall control by the governments of Scotland or England. The ‘brutal’ castle architecture has to be viewed in context of the absence of the rule of central government in the Borders region during the medieval period when the castle represented a major power centre in the region.

Paradoxically, the name Hermitage actually derives from a peaceful and holy man who lived near Liddel Water.

There is a record of a castle here in the 12th century but the earliest parts of the present ‘H’ shaped structure date from the mid 14th century, Summary chronology as follows:-

  • Besieged and taken by Sir William Douglas in 1338 who was murdered in 1353, The oldest part of the castle date from the time of Sir William and his English successor Hugh D’Acre.
  • Great corner towers were added by the third Earl of Douglas in the 1390s.
  • The powerful Hepburn family gained control in the 15th century, on orders of King James IV.
  • In October 1566 Mary, Queen of Scots visited James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell who was in bed at the castle suffering from battle wounds.
  • In 1624 the castle passed to the Scotts of Buccleuch.
  • Due to changes in military technology the castle became obsolete and was abandoned in the 17th century.

Aspect of Hermitage Castle, Scottish Borders

Castle interior

View of castle from chapel ruins.

Here is a video clip of drive through local scenery.

The castle is now a visitor attraction managed by Historic Environment Scotland.

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