Hawick is home to one of the most haunted places in Scotland, Hermitage Castle. Come Explore its mystery with Haunted Journeys.
During the 13th century, more specifically around 1240, the Hermitage Castle was constructed under the guidance of a master mason called John Lewin for Nicholas de Soulis. It remained in his family until approximately 1320 when his descendant, William de Soulis, forfeited it because of suspected witchcraft and the attempted assassination of King Robert I of Scotland.
The castle itself is isolated, oppressive, and is unique in the sense that there are very few windows. The castle has a reputation, both from its history and its appearance, as one of the most sinister and atmospheric castles in Scotland. Although the heavy darkness of the castle is overwhelming, the beauty of its grounds is breathtaking. In the 1400's the castle's tactical location was crucial. The need to possess this finely positioned fortress generated many battles between the English and Scots.
In the 13th century, Redcap Sly, a familiar spirit of the Baron de Soulis, made his presence known. Baron de Soulis practiced black magic and performed sacrificial rituals, which left the local villages grieving for their murdered innocent children. The farm children were kept in his dungeon for heinous torturing and ritual sacrifices. It was Recap Sly, a long fanged old man, who told Lord Soulis that no one could injure him or bind him unless they used a three-stranded rope of sand. The heartless Lord Soulis was thus given the feeling of being invulnerable to the laws of man.
The villagers sought release from the evil Lord Soulis. They sought out the wise Wizard Thomas of Ercildoune with their pleas and begged him to aid them. The wizard Thomas pondered their problem and created a belt of lead, which would also hold sand. Placing the belt around the sleeping Baron, the Wizard poured sand into the belt imprisoning the vile Baron. Once restrained the Baron was taken to an ancient stone circle, Nine Stane Rig, located two miles northeast of the castle and boiled to death in a huge cauldron. Of course, there are multiple documented endings for the vile Baron. One story has it that the enraged parents bound him in chains further encasing him a blanket of lead and before boiling him alive. Another story has Soulis abducting the Laird of Branxholm, a crime that led to his being bound in a sheet of lead and then boiled to his death.
In 1560 Mary Queen of Scots visited this impressive castle and nearly died of a fever while there.
Today, the castle is a tourist attraction but maintains the very core of the castle sealed off. Many folks have reported hearing screams and pleadings of young children believed to the ghostly spirits of the Baron’s victims who remain trapped within the oppressive walls.
Prior to the building of the castle, it is believed that the small mound next to the ruined chapel a quarter of a mile from the northwest corner of the castle lies the grave of the giant, Cout O’ Keilder. The giant was known to terrorize the area and wore an enchanted chain-mail that left him unaffected by blows. The giant met his fate when he was drowned in the deep pool of water in the river called the drowning pool. It is said that the giant still walks the area searching for those that drowned him.
And, yes, the castle is said to also be haunted by Mary Queen of Scots.
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