|Hermitage Castle, Scotland|
In the border lands between Scotland and England there is a most sinister building which has had literally a continuous history of horror, warfare and bloodshed, intrigue and foul tortures, witchcraft, imprisonment to death, boiling in oil to name just a few. It all took place in the “bloodiest valley” in Britain where there is a sinister, evilly atmospheric building called Hermitage Castle.
As is usually the case, we go back to the turbulent 13/14th centuries when the first, and most notable of the horrors started. This involved the owner, a notorious villain called William de Soulis who was an unashamed practitioner of witchcraft and such was his power that he became almost unstoppable. Amongst his many excesses he was rumoured to spirit away children for use in his rituals, and even conspired to kill that iconic Scots King, Robert the Bruce. Eventually however, his actions became too much even for those times and he was captured by his tenants who, legend has it, boiled him in lead within an ancient stone circle; the belief being that this would stop his return from the afterlife.
Then, with bewildering speed the castle changed hands many times, sometimes supporting the English, sometimes the Scots. But whoever the owner was the castle seemed to inspire unbridled brutality and unexplained events:
- The mysterious disappearance of the original group of Holy men who lived there; but the name of Hermitage survived
- A local sheriff, amongst many others, was imprisoned there and starved to death
- Revenge killings as a succession of owners defected to the opposite side
- Disappearance of local children during de Soulis’ ownership
- A giant who terrorised the area but was eventually caught and drowned ... one of the more fantastical legends
- Survival of de Soulis’ “familiars” who continue to haunt the valley
- Countless examples of treason and intrigue, jailings and forfeiture of land
|Inside Hermitage Castle|
As the list of horrors goes on and on it is no surprise that the castle pervades a sinister atmosphere of misery, fear and ghostly sightings. Specifically, the awful cries of children and prisoners who were incarcerated in the dungeons can still be heard, or it might be the wind keening around the stark battlements. Who really knows? And Mary, Queen of Scots is rumoured to be one of the figures who can be seen moving about the upper rooms on dark and dreadful nights. Also, near the Giant’s Drowning Pool, some visitors have felt a presence which appears to try to push them into the water. But, most sinister of all, de Soulis and his cronies in crime are reputed to walk within the castle, treading passageways which no longer exist .. they seem to be floating in the air.
All in all, Hermitage Castle and the surrounding countryside is a “must visit” place; but go with friends as you never know what you might meet.
Buy P J Cadavori's Catacombs of the Damned
P J Cadavori's supernatural horror novel, Catacombs of the Damned, is available to buy at Winstone’s of Sherborne, and online at Waterstones or Amazon, in paperback and e-book formats. Click on the book covers below to view Catacombs of the Damned at Amazon.
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