Hermitage Castle - a study in belligerence
Hermitage Castle was once described as the embodiment of the phrase "sod off" in stone.
Take a walk around it walls and it's obvious that this structure was built to be belligerant - what's more it has a history to match.
An original wooden defence, first mentioned in 1242, was replaced in the late 1300's by the imposing stone castle now standing; a response to ever more hostile exchanges along the English Scottish border.
The unusual architecture, designed to allow wooden fighting platforms to run the length of the outside of the tops of the walls, adds to the building's all round aggressiveness.
Over the years it has had an owner, William de Soulis, so hated by the locals he was boiled alive, and became a tomb for Alexander Ramsay who was starved to death by Sir William Douglas in protest to his royal appointment as Sheriff of Teviotdale.
King David II, it seems, took the hint and Sir William was awarded the post!
In 1566 Hermitage, then home to the Earl of Boswell, became entangled in the muddled love life of Mary Queen of Scots.
On hearing the earl had been injured in a clash with border reivers, she rode 25 miles from her residence in Jedburgh, to be by his side.
Still married to Lord Darnley at the time she had to make the return journey the same day and, as a result, developed a cold that almost killed her. If walls could speak what tales Hermitage would have to tell.
Hermitage Castle is well worth a visit but please be advised it is not easily accessible to visitors using wheelchairs or with limited mobility. The castle has many steps.