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.


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Founded: 1478
Category: Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom


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User Reviews

Nikhil Nishant (7 months ago)
It's okay for one time visit but nothing much is there to watch or experience and nothing is there from Maxwell time apart from Castle wall. It will be good if there will be some stuff which they use or had in castle. ..view is very good from it..
Steve FSE Rico (Banjo Beats) (7 months ago)
Detailed introduction to the building on entry by the host. Great place to explore. Amazing setting next to the Clyde.
Grant Shearer (8 months ago)
Passionate and knowledgeable staff member in the gift shop briefed us before we made our way round the castle. Definitely worth a visit if you’re looking for historic sites around Glasgow!
Iain Mackenzie (9 months ago)
Absolutely stunning and under rated castle. Must have driven past it a thousand times but never been in. Free parking was the first plus point but the castle itself is beautiful, so much to explore and amazing views from the upper floors. Well placed and informative information points throughout give very interesting (and sometimes dark) insights into the castles history and really make you think about the events that once happened within the same room you are standing. The manager Billy was fantastic and clearly very passionate about the place and was happy to give a detailed history and have a good chat. Overall a great way to spend an afternoon and made me want to visit other similar sites across the country
Rebecca Randall (9 months ago)
Lovely castle overlooking the water with limited opening hours for the public. I recommend visiting during sunset as you get beautiful views across the mountains and we saw a pair of dolphins jumping out of the water and playing near the pier in the carpark.
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