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Newark Castle

Castle (15th Century)

Site Name Newark Castle

Classification Castle (15th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Port Glasgow, Castle Street, Newark Castle

Canmore ID 42421

Site Number NS37SW 1

NGR NS 32813 74520

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/42421

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2018.

Digital Images


First 100 images shown. See the Collections panel (below) for a link to all digital images.

Administrative Areas

  • Council Inverclyde
  • Parish Port Glasgow
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Inverclyde
  • Former County Renfrewshire

Archaeology Notes

NS37SW 1.00 32813 74520

(NS 32817451) Newark Castle (NR)

OS 6" map (1970).

NS37SW 1.01 NS 3284 7452 Tower

The buildings that form Newark Castle stand on three sides of a square, the S side being formerly enclosed by a curtain wall. They date from three periods. The original is the simple square keep at the S end of the E wing, of 15th century date. Next comes the gatehouse block probably mid 16th century, forming the W wing. The remainder, the main or N block, is dated 1597-9. The keep stands four storeys high; its windows have been largely altered. The gatehouse portion is three storeyed, with a gabled roof. A large arched gateway to a vaulted pend leads to the courtyard. The main block consists of a projecting centre and two wings; there are angle-turrets on all the external angles and a semicircular stair-turret in the centre of the N front. There are various types of gunloops in the rubble walls.

G W Browne 1882; D MacGibbon and T Ross 1887; J S Fleming 1903; N Tranter 1965; H Fenwick 1976

Newark Castle is generally as described; it is in excellent condition.

Visited by OS (JD) 25 July 1955.

NS 3281 7451 A watching brief was maintained during the excavation of material in the fireplace within the Custodian's Office. The exposed surfaces were drawn and photographed, although no finds or early (non post-medieval) archaeological features were recorded.

At a later date, observations were made of a trench excavated within the castle, against the S wall of the N range, from which bones had been reported. It was discovered that the animal bones and china which had been found were from within a sand deposit used as levelling material for a recent concrete floor. The S wall of this block lay directly on top of bedrock in places.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland

A Radley and D Murray 1998.

Architecture Notes

EXTERNAL REFERENCE

In the National Library of Scotland, Vol. II, No 60 of water colour sketches by Thomas Brown, Advocate, is a view of this castle.

Reference Adv. MSS. 34.8.1-3

see under "water colour sketches, series of, by Thomas Brown, Advocate".

Mitchell Library - Glasgow in former times Vol 2. - pencil and wash drawing 1859

(Undated) information in NMRS.

Activities

Publication Account (1985)

A setting amidst the shipyards of Port Glasgow may seem a somewhat incongruous background for one of southern Scotland's finest 16th century houses. In one way, however, it is quite fitting, as in 1668 the house and its surrounding land were sold to the magistrates of Glasgow for the express purpose of founding a harbour for the city merchants, and it was imaginatively christened New-Port Glasgow.

The house consists of three elements disposed around three sides of a courtyard, with the 16th century block on the north linking two earlier wings; the fourth side is now open, but at one time it was closed off by a curtain wall. The earliest part of the house is a 15th century rectangular tower which forms the east wing. Facing it, on the opposite side of the courtyard, is the mid 16th century gateway which, like that at Crossraguel Abbey (no. 54), provided both a fortified entrance to the courtyard and a tower with residential apartments above.

The principal interest of the house, however, lies in the commanding late 16th century range that forms the north side of the courtyard. It is entered from the east, opposite the gatehouse, and above the entrance there is a panel bearing the date 1597 and the monogram of the owner, Sir Patrick Maxwell, together with the inscription 'The blissings of God be herein'. The basement is taken up with domestic offices including the kitchen, buttery, stores and, to the south of the main entrance, a large bakehouse. The greater part of the first floor is occupied by a large hall, built on the grand scale, with a magnificent fireplace on the north wall next to a turnpike stair. This staircase led to the private apartments and long gallery which were situated on the second floor. The external angles of this block are provided with corbelled angle-turrets which are complemented in the middle of the north wall by the semi-circular stair turret leading upwards from the hall. Set on the top of an angle-tower in the corner of a ruined wall to the north-east of the castle, there is a beehive dovecote similar to that at Crossraguel Abbey.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: The Clyde Estuary and Central Region’, (1985).

Watching Brief (31 October 1995)

A watching brief was maintained during the investigation of existing power cables serving the castle in advance of upgrading of services. Nothing of archaeological significance was revealed.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland.

G Ewart 1995.

Watching Brief (January 1996)

A watching brief was maintained during the excavation of a pit for a sewage tank on the line of an existing service pipe. The area concerned was a grassy strip just outside and to the N of the barmekin wall, and to the S of a sea wall. The trench measured c. 2 m N-S x 2.5 m E-W and was up to 2.6 m in depth.

Kirkdale Archaeology Ltd, 1996

Watching Brief (12 November 1997)

Observations were made by Kirkdale Archaeology of a trench excavated within the castle, against the S wall of the N range, from which bones had been reported.

It was discovered that the animal bones and china which had been found were from within a sand deposit used as levelling material for a recent concrete floor. The S wall of this block was noted to lie directly on top of bedrock in places.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland

A Radley and D Murray 1997

Kirkdale Archaeology

Watching Brief (12 November 1997)

A watching brief was maintained at Newark castle during the excavation of material in the fireplace within the Custodian’s Office.

The exposed surfaces were drawn and photographed, although no finds or early (non post-medieval) archaeological features were recorded.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland

A Radley & D Murray 1997

Kirkdale Archaeology

Watching Brief (February 2007)

NS 3281 7452 As the late 16th-century roof over the North Range of Newark Castle required repair work a watching brief took place in February 2007 to monitor the removal of rubble panels between the ashlar posts of the roof in the S wall. These panels were probably modern repairs or replacements as evidence of replacement and repair to some of the ashlar posts, sole pieces and rafters was found sealed behind them.

Archive to be deposited with RCAHMS.

Funder: Historic Scotland.

Standing Building Recording (July 2007 - August 2007)

NS 3281 7452 A full archaeological survey of the central part of the roof over the North Range was carried out in July and August 2007. This revealed that the roof was constructed from a mixture of tailor-made and re-used beams. A coherent series of roman numeral carpenters’ marks were observed on all of the trusses

(numbered W to E). A series of other marks were identified on some of the reused timbers with redundant mortice holes. A third series of assembly marks had been made to ensure that the trimmers were placed in the correct location during the late 16th-century construction. We also discovered evidence for a combed ceiling on the underside of the rafters, which had been cut back where necessary, below the lower tie-beams, to accommodate this ceiling. Various historic repairs and timber replacements were noted that had been attempts to repair the slumping roof. A dendrochronological survey was undertaken by AOC Archaeology Group.

Archive to be deposited with RCAHMS.

Funder: Historic Scotland.

Information from Tom Whalley (Kirkdale Archaeology) 2007.OASIS ID - kirkdale1-30833

Standing Building Recording (30 May 2008 - 14 July 2008)

NS 3281 7452 As part of an ongoing programme the roofs of the E and W bedchambers, the turrets of the N range, the roof of the gatehouse and the roof of the E range were recorded through measured drawing and textual descriptions of features between 30 May–14 July 2008. The completion of the survey of the roofs has confirmed the generally excellent survival of late 16th-century roofs at Newark Castle. This survey has also uncovered evidence of an earlier, previously unrecognised, phase of roof surviving over the gatehouse. This was constructed between the late 15th century and the late 16th century, before the roofs of the N Range and E Range.

The N Range and E Range roofs were constructed using a high proportion of timbers reused from a previous roof structure. The roof of the E range contains the only evidence of reused timber not from a roof, which has been pit sawn to create collars in the current arrangement. Though it is likely that the E range roof is late 16th-century, on the basis of its relationship with the masonry it is possible that this roof belongs to a later phase.

During the centuries following the construction of the roofs it is likely that there were some small repairs, but it

is remarkable that the next phase of widely visible work does not occur until the 20th century. It is possible that the Ministry of Works was responsible for the replacement of all the dormer window roofs and the E, NE, NW and W Turret roofs in the early 20th century; however, these may have been replaced in the mid to late 20th century, possibly along with the major structural changes to the E bedchamber roof and the subdivision of the upper floor of the E Range. Most of the sarking is 20th-century but late 16th-century sarking does survive in the W Turret roof, the Central Turret roof and in the Central portion of the N Range roof.

Archive: RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: Historic Scotland

Information fromSarah Hogg (Kirkdale Archaeology) 28 November 2008.

OASIS ID: kirkdale1-60211

Watching Brief (19 January 2011)

NS 3282 7452 A watching brief was maintained on 19 January 2011 during the excavation of a small trench for the installation of a new stair in the wine cellar of the N range of Newark Castle. This small hole confirmed that the stair at the N end of the chamber sits over at least two more courses of masonry. Despite the fact that this range is thought to be a late 16th-century building, overlying the traces of an early 15th-century hall-like structure, the infill and the possibility of the stair being cut within an earlier wall suggest that the N wall of this room may predate the late 16th-century re-working. It is difficult to see why the floor level has been so radically raised, unless it was to rationalise a new general floor level for the passage and stair arrangement at ground floor level for the new range, which incorporated parts of the hall-like structure. All thresholds respect the newly raised floor level.

Archive: RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: Historic Scotland

Information from Gordon Ewart (Kirkdale Archaeology) 31 January 2011. OASIS ID - kirkdale1-171109

Watching Brief (16 August 2012)

NS 3280 7450 A watching brief was undertaken on 16 August 2012 during the excavation of a trench for a new sign inside the modern gateway to the SW of the castle. The trench was located on the E side of a path that runs N from the gateway. There were no finds or features of archaeological significance.

Archive: RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: Historic Scotland

Information from Paul Fox (Kirkdale Archaeology) September 2012. OASIS ID - kirkdale1-310874

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