Newark Castle is a well-preserved castle sited on the south shore of the estuary of the River Clyde in Port Glasgow, Inverclyde. For centuries this location was used to offload seagoing ships, and led to the growth of Port Glasgow close to the castle on either side and to the south. When dredging techniques made the Clyde navigable as far as Glasgow the port became a shipbuilding centre, and the castle was surrounded by shipyards.
The castle was built in 1478 by George Maxwell when he inherited the Barony of Finlanstone in the parish of Kilmacolm. The original castle had a tower house within a walled enclosure or barmkin entered through a large gatehouse. All that remains of the outer defensive wall is from one of the original corner towers. It is thought that there would have been a hall and ancillary buildings such as a bakehouse and brew house inside the walled enclosure.
In the late 16th century the castle was inherited by Sir Patrick Maxwell, a powerful friend of king James VI of Scotland and who was notorious for murdering two members of a rival family and beating his wife who left him after having 16 children. In 1597 Sir Patrick expanded the building, constructing a new north range replacing the earlier hall in the form of a three storey Renaissance mansion. At this time the barmkin wall was demolished except for the north east tower, which was converted into a doocot.
The central part of the mansion has cellars with tiny windows under a main hall with large windows, and other accommodation above that. An east wing with the main entrance door close to the main block links it to the original tower house which was suitably modified, and a short west wing connects to the gatehouse. The mansion has features of the Scottish baronial style including crow-stepped gables and north corners embellished with corbelledturrets. At the centre of its north wall a stairwell supported out on corbelling gives access to the upper floor.
In 1668 the Glasgow authorities purchased 7 hectares of land around Newark Castle from Sir George Maxwell who was then the laird, and developed the harbour into what they called Port Glasgow. The last Maxwell died in 1694 and the castle had a series of non-resident owners. An early tenant was a ropemaker called John Orr who also dealt in wild animals such as big cats and bears which he obtained from ships visiting the Clyde and often housed in the castle cellars. The cellars and gardens were later rented by Charles Williamson who blocked access from the hall to stop the joiner John Gardner who rented the hall from stealing fruit stored in the cellars.
Newark Castle came into state care in 1909 and is now a property of Historic Scotland with excellent visitor facilities.
Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.
Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.
A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.
The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.
The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.
In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.
In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.