The Soules crossed the English Channel with William the Conqueror. Ranulf de Soules, the first to come to Scotland, held the position of butler at the Court of David I. The first castle occupied by Ranulf was at Liddel Water, four miles from the Hermitage. It was here that his servants murdered the second Lord Ranulf. It was believed he was involved in the occult and black magic and folklore tells of him being boiled in molten lead. It was after the above episode the family moved to the Hermitage.
The original castle built by Lord Nicholas De Soules around 1240 has disappeared, due to being of a timber structure, although the original earthworks still remain and are probably the foundations for the current castle. The construction of the castle nearly brought England and Scotland to war due to its strategic position controlling Liddlesdale.
|Dungeon - hole with no light, air, sanitation or water and no way out!!|
The peace treaty of 1328 stipulated that property belonging to English lords in Scotland should be returned to them. The Scots refused and it was only in 1332 that it was given to Sir Ralph de Neville. However, this was short-lived and in 1338, Sir William Douglas seized Hermitage. Sir William was grieved that he had been overlooked for the role of sheriff of Teviotdale. In 1342, he imprisoned the new sheriff and starved him to death. After this, the king appointed Sir William to the post. Sir William was taken prisoner at the Battle of Neville’s Cross in 1346. Sir William traded with his captors but King David II countered this pact by giving Hermitage to Sir Williams’s godson, another William. Sir William and his godson faced each other in Ettrick Forrest in 1353 resulting in the death of Sir William. However, young William could not claim Hermitage as Sir William's widow married Sir Hugh de Dacre, a Cumbrian Lord. Sir Hugh resisted giving William, now the 1st Earl of Douglas, Hermitage until 1371.
|Hermitage from the Chapel|
In 1930, the state took over the upkeep of castle and chapel but the myths and stories remain.