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.


  1. That is REALLY cool! I would love to check that place out sometime!!!

  2. Tell me...is the Hermitage the same as the castle of the Douglas Larder?

    1. Thanks for visiting Fly - no apparently that was Douglas Castle

  3. That last bit, about the visitor being pushed by an unseen force gave me shivers - whoa! Have you been there yourself, David?

    Some Dark Romantic

    1. I know powerful eh Mina - sadly not but would love to

  4. What a terrifically spooky story. Wild horses wouldn't drag me there at Halloween.

  5. Now that's a new way of killing someone. Sadly, Mankind is very ingenuous in that respect.

    1. Yes indeed Li as the poster about the Douglas Larder reminded me

  6. I visited like 5 castles when I lived in Edinburgh, but their stories were sad more than scary, at least I felt sad thinking that most of them had been abandoned when the Scottish king James went to England. But when I visited Greyfriars cemetery in December and saw the crypts I felt really bad. It was dark and cold and inside you felt really oppressed. When I visited it again in May during the day, it was full of flowers and we discovered a herbal garden and very cute tombstones. I guess it all really depends on the atmosphere.

    1. for sure Starla - love those Scottish cemeteries - they are so atmospheric

  7. I was visiting an underground museum cave in Hastings once, where they had knights sleeping on their coffins. I was almost locked in as the last one out on that tour. I was walking so slowly like a zombie, or as one possessed. When I got out, I swear someone pushed me real hard. Next moment I was on the ground. I don't think I have ever mentioned that before util now.

    Another time, I felt a ghost trip me up with their leg. It was so real. Yeah, Old England, Scotland and Wales can really get creepy at times.

    And then when I arrived in America, I still had my history of ghosts, seemingly follow me to America at first. I could see in parts of North USA (New Hampshire and Maine)how unmarried pregnant women were known as witches, buried alive. I could really 'feel' the History. It was very disturbing.

    Maybe some of it is just a vivid imagination. Hey, who am I kidding.

    But really, American ghost history seems so much milder.

    I love your stories David. They set off triggers in me to remember stuff like this!

    Have a great week!

    1. thanks so much Jacqueline - it really does seem like you are able to tune into ghosts - can't say I have ever sensed such a presence

  8. This castle sounds like an awesome place to visit! I need to put it on my list of things to do. It will be #789.

    I'm sure Hermitage has been the subject of countless books, right? Has there been a film about all of this history?

  9. Ha Jen - not sure but it played a part in the Mary Queen of Scots saga of which there have been a few films

  10. That's really cool and creepy at the same time. History is so full of facts that add to the scope of our imaginings . . .


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