5 miles NE of Newcastleton on the B6399.
Map ref: 79 349596.
From Hermitage south along the valley of Hermitage Water to Newcastleton and beyond can be seen remnants of many old peles and castles.
This is largely Elliot
country but the castle has been, at times, associated with the De Soulis
family and with the Douglas, Dacre, Hepburn
At nearby Dinlabyre stood the castle of Clitwood but only traces remain.
In the vicinity of Hermitage have been found the remains of buildings indicating that once a sizeable township was located here.
There were five districts here: Wheel, Hermitage, Dinla-byre, Ettleton and Chapelknowe.
Hermitage is perhaps the loneliest and most impressive
fortress in the whole of the Borders and should not be missed. You will
see something of the great wastes of Tarras Moss.
Newcastleton is worth visiting, and afterwards go on to Canonbie and Langholm.
|Near the end of the 15th century when reiving was at its height, one sixth of the whole of the Scottish Border military force was stationed at Hermitage.|
There were more than one Lord de Soulis. There were all apparently wicked, but the last one was the worst
Go to De Soulis. He has earned a section for himself.
Brothers in Arms
Both men had been brothers in arms in numerous campaigns, and were regarded as the two most brilliant and valiant knights in King David’s court.
Sir Alexander Ramsay earned the reputation of being a great leader, a wily tactician and a fearless fighter. He was honoured for his many military campaigns including many daring guerrilla raids against the English.
Possession of the strong fortress of Roxburgh was bitterly contested by England and Scotland and for long periods it was in the hands of the English much to the distress of Scotland. This stronghold, being near the Border was of prime importance to both sides.
In a night attack, in 1342, Ramsay stormed the stronghold and, although stoutly repulsed by a substantial English force, he succeeded in taking it.
For the great service Sir Alexander Ramsay had rendered by its capture, he was rewarded by being appointed governor of the castle, by King David. He was also awarded the position of Sheriff of Teviotdale, a post based at Hermitage Castle, which had been previously held by Sir William Douglas, the Knight of Liddesdale.
When the news reached Douglas of Ramsay’s appointed by the young King as Sheriff of Teviotdale he was furious and he directed his wrath not at the King who made the appointment, but at Ramsay himself.
Deeply offended, Douglas vowed vengeance against the new
One day as Ramsay was carrying out his official duties holding court in the church at Hawick, Douglas burst in. Ramsay rose to greet his old friend and comrade, but instead of a friendly handshake he was seized by Douglas’ men and taken away to Hermitage Castle in Liddesdale.
There he was hurled into a lower dungeon and was given neither food nor water and left there to die an agonizing death.
It is said that this brave knight prolonged his life for seventeen days by eating the remains of grains of corn which had filtered through from the store above.
Ramsay’s cruel death excited widespread indignation and sorrow among all classes of his contemporaries.
King David was appalled when he was told of the dreadful crime but his authority was so weak that he was unable to take any action against Douglas.
What caused the so-called Flower of Chivalry to act so has been a great puzzle many.
Some four hundred years later a mason employed to make repairs within the castle came upon a vault about eight feet square, in which were found some human bones, along with remnants of a saddle, some pieces of cloth, and an ancient sword together with other assorted accoutrements. These relics in all probability had belonged the gallant but unfortunate Alexander Ramsay.
Later the King assigned to Douglas the office of Sheriff of
After such appalling behaviour Douglas’ name was abhorred by Scots everywhere, and not long after he was ambushed by his own nephew and slain. So ended the lives of two of the brightest hopes for Scotland’s fight for freedom.
This is one of the stories from the book: Hermitage Castle, the Wickedest Place on the Border by Tom Armstrong. This book may be purchased from this website. Click HERE.