Scotland is a wonderfully scenic country known for it’s
beauty, traditions, and folklore. It is also known as a
land of restless spirits. One such locale known for it’s
ghosts and tragic past is the famed Hermitage Castle located
near New Castleton, Roxburgshire Scotland. The castle was
built under the guidance of the master mason John Lewin of
Durham sometime in the 13th century (aboutscotland). The
castle itself is isolated, oppressive, and is unique in the
sense that there are very few windows. Although the
oppressiveness of the castle is daunting, the beauty of the
land surrounding it is breath taking. During the 1400’s the
castle was considered to be a strategically vital location
resulting in battles between the English and Scots for it’s
In 1560 Mary, Queen of Scots, visited this impressive castle
and nearly died of a fever while there. 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 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 (Guiley).
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
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
(aboutscotland). Of course, there are multiple 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
(Guiley). Regardless of how the nefarious Baron met his
fate; it is safe to say he deserved it!
The castle is a tourist attraction now with the very core of
the castle sealed off. Many report they have heard screams
and pleadings of young children believed to the ghostly
spirits of the Baron’s victims who remain trapped within the
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
Given the tragic history of Hermitage Castle, it is within
reason to believe that spirits would still linger in this
oppressive and isolated castle that has fallen into ruin.
It is a common belief that tragic deaths will often allow
spirits to dwell or leave a "residue" in which the acts are
forever replayed as if burned into the atmosphere of the
Are there ghosts in this castle? Why wouldn’t there be?
Given the number of children who died, the practice of black
magic, and the evilness that dwelled within the walls would
most surely guarantee that the castle would be haunted. It
is sad really, that such a beautiful area marred by such
tragedy and evilness.
by Charla White (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Guiley, Rosemary. The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits.
Checkmark Books: NY, 2000.