Monday, May 14, 2012
Hermitage Castle - A Cauldron of Evil
I lost my enthusiasm for microblogging Monday. A cold I have had for more than a week took a turn for the worse and I ordered the world's smallest violin in the hope of sympathy if not symphony.
Still, my last post about solitude brought hermits to mind, and by implication one of Scotland's most frightening castles.
On the bad lands of the borders which were bathed in the blood of the English and the Scots for centuries, Hermitage Castle rises out of the mist beyond a treeless beck. Its dimensions are still staggering, even though it's a ruin.
The castle stands in an area that was the key to the control over Liddesdale and the border area during the Scottish and English wars. Its history is steeped in torture, misery, witchcraft and blood.
According to the Myserious Britain website the castle has attracted legend and dark folklore throughout its history, even before its construction in the 1240s.
Before this citadel was built the area may have been the retreat of a holy man or a group of holy men as the name suggests.
The most famous tale a character known as Bad Lord Soulis who owned the castle in the Middle Ages. he was said to be a practitioner in black magic who was responsible for the disappearance of countless local children, who met a foul fate under the thick stone walls of Hermitage Castle. To help him in his nefarious dealings he had an assistant familiar known as Robin Redcap who bears some similarities to the Red Caps who haunt the border regions.
The evil assistant had promised his lord he would not be harmed by forged steel or ever be bound by rope.
But Soulis met a terrible fate. Eventually the locals rebelled and went to the king, who agreed he could be disposed of. They took him up to Nine Stane Rigg, a stone circle crowning a nearby hill top, wrapped him in lead and boiled him in a brass cauldron:
The Boiling of Bad Lord Soulis
On a circle of stone they placed the pot,
On a circle of stones but barely nine,
They heated it up red and fiery hot,
Till the burnished brass did glimmer and shine.
They rolled him up in a sheet of lead,
A sheet of lead for a funeral pall,
They plunged him in the cauldron red.
and melted him lead bones and all.
Many ghosts are said to stalk the ruins of Hermitage Castle.
"It is said that the screams of the victims of Lord Soulis can be heard and the oppressive atmosphere is sometimes blamed on his roaming spirit. One visitor complained of being pushed by an unseen force while near the drowning pool by the chapel" Mysterious Britain stated.