11112007191717 fullThis left the unfortunate soul trapped in a foul smelling, soundproof, pitch black dungeon, confined until a ransom was agreed to be paid. Starved if necessary, the prisoner was eventually dragged from the pit and placed in the next room, the pledge chamber. The exact terms of the pledge, or ransom, was carefully negotiated and written in the form of a contract, witnessed and signed. From then on the treatment greatly improved, achieving the status of an honoured guest under arrest, evidenced by the en-suite facilities provided (the Garderobe). The payment of ransom or "Black meal" was corrupted into the phrase we know today as blackmail.

Ransoms at this time were usually paid in the form of sheep or cattle, resulting in certain families amassing considerable fortunes and creating some of the most powerful and influential families in the borders. Once the ransom arrived at the castle, the prisoner was released to return home to his family.1610200723934 full

Continuing up the main staircase gains access to the upper floors, above the Great Hall is a large open plan room, a solar, where the lairds family would sleep in a dormitory style room, hence the need for curtains around four poster beds. This room in the 16th century was subdivided into segregated sleeping arrangements. Above the solar chamber was the servants quarters known as the "windy hall", presumably this level was unglazed. The staircase then terminates at the battlements which run completely around the castle, encompassing parapets, murder holes, garrets, watch towers and guard house. It is believed that the barracks could contain up to 20 mercenaries. This level has been greatly altered over the centuries, originally being constructed from wood.

It is clear that preconceptions about life in a castle often cloud perceptions. Far from the bare draughty structures imagined, these buildings were warm pleasant, often luxurious places. When one remembers the owners of such castles were by modern day standards multi-millionaires, it is quite conceivable every comfort available at the time would be utilised to increase living standards, and as such, for those within the castle the surroundings would have been most pleasant.