Hermitage Castle, as seen today, was built
for Clan Douglas in
1371. This was one of the most powerful Clans
in the south of Scotland, used by the Royals to
protect southern Scotland from English attacks.
Their great rivals on the English side were the
Earls of Northumberland, of Warkworth and Alnwick
The Image top is of the Hill Road leading
across to Hermitage Castle from the A7, a real
interesting drive through a scenic, remote
There is a small Visitor Centre by the
Castle with notice boards around giving the
History of the Castle. If you arrive after
closing time, you can view the exterior of the
Castle, although you are not supposed to hop
over the low gates.
There are two large Archways, one on the
west side, and one on the east side. These may
have been to look like main entrances for
attackers to try and gain entrance. There are
no entrances at the Arches, so probably used as
traps for any attackers.
The main small entrance is on the south
A few hundred yards west of the Castle are
the remains of the small Chapel of Hermitage,
thought to have been built in 1240 for the De
Hermitage Castle History
1240 - Nicholas de Soules, butler to the
King, gained these lands. It is believed he
built a hunting lodge a few hundred yards west
of the present Castle, next to the ruins of the
Chapel of Hermitage.
1320 - the lands were owned by William de
Soules, said to have plotted against Robert the
Bruce, leading to him being imprisoned in
Dumbarton Castle, with the lands of Hermitage
being forfeited to the Crown.
Being just 9 miles north of the Border with
England, Hermitage Lands changed hands many
times over the years. The first Castle was a
Moat and Bailey building constructed from
timber. Nothing remains above ground of this
1338 - the Castle was captured by Sir
William Douglas, known for imprisoning
Alexander Ramsay, Sheriff of Teviotdale, in
Hermitage Castle until he starved to death.
Instead of punishing Douglas, King David II
made Douglas the new Sheriff of Teviotdale.
1360 - the first stone Castle was built at
Hermitage for the Cumbrian nobleman Lord Dacre,
who gained the lands through marriage.
1371 - Hermitage Castle was under the
control of William, 1st Earl of Douglas, who
rebuilt the Castle into a large Tower
1390s - William's illegitimate son, George,
1st Earl of Angus, added four Towers to the
corners of the Tower House, leading to the
Castle seen today.
1492 - King James IV forced Archibald
Douglas, 5th Earl of Angus, to exchange
Hermitage Castle for Bothwell Castle
by Glasgow. Douglas was accused of dealing with
King Henry VII in plots against Scotland.
Patrick Hepburn, 1st Earl of Bothwell, was
then in control of Hermitage Castle.
1566 October - James Hepburn,
4th Earl of Bothwell, was injured in a fight
with Border Reivers. Mary Queen of Scots was
visiting Jedburgh at the time,
23 miles north of Hermitage Castle. The Queen
then rode with a small party to visit Hepburn.
Mary was still married to Lord Darnley at that
time, so after just two hours, returned to
1567 February - the Earl of Bothwell was one
of those accused of murdering Mary Queen of
Scots husband, Lord Darnley.
1567 April - Mary was traveling from
Linlithgow Palace to Edinburgh when
Bothwell and 800 of his followers took her to
his Castle at Dunbar, claiming they were trying
to protect her.