Located outside Newcastleton in the Scottish Borders, Hermitage Castle lies at a strategic position in an area that has been in dispute between England and Scotland for centuries. The castle defended the route through Liddesdale, one of the few ways into Scotland known as the Middle Marches.
This massive edifice is a remnant of the 14th and 15th centuries and work undertaken by the Douglas family. The first castle on this site was begun around 1240 by Sir Nicholas de Soules and some associated earthworks remain. During the Wars of Independence, the castle changed hands regularly, coming into the possession of Sir William Douglas in 1338. The oldest parts of the present structure are believed to date from 1350 and the ownership of the English Dacre family. Reclaimed by the Earls of Douglas in 1371, but the 5th Earl was forced to exchange it for Bothwell Castle (South Lanarkshire) in 1492. Held by the Hepburns of Bothwell, it was here than Mary, Queen of Scots, came in 1566 to visit the wounded James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell (1536-78). Bothwell was to become her third husband the following year.
The castle was then acquired by King James VI (1566 - 1625) following the attainder of the 5th Earl in 1594. It was given to the Scotts of Buccleuch, who had, for years previously, been custodians of the castle. The castle was abandoned around the middle of the 17th C. and fell into a ruinous state. The author Sir Walter Scott (1771 - 1832) was very fond of the castle and at his instigation some restoration was carried out in 1820 by its owner Walter Montagu Douglas Scott, the 5th Duke of Buccleuch (1806-84).
It eventually passed to the state in 1930 and is today maintained by Historic Scotland, who have stabilised the structure. The castle is characterised by massive towers at each of its four corners and huge archways on the east and west facades.