A five storey Tower House originally built by the Black Douglases, Newark Castle was seized by the Crown in the fifteenth century and was later attacked on several occasions by English forces during the Rough Wooing. In 1645 over one hundred Royalist prisoners who had been captured following the Battle of Philiphaugh were executed in its grounds.
Newark Castle was constructed from 1423 onwards by Archibald Douglas, Earl of Wigtown. As with the other fortifications in England and Scotland called Newark, its name derives from "New Wark" - a new castle - suggesting it replaced an earlier structure. It took the form of a rectangular five storey tower house and was built upon a rocky knoll overlooking the River Yarrow. It was still incomplete when it was seized by James III following his overthrow of the Black Douglases and he then granted it to his Queen, Margaret of Denmark.
A quadrangular curtain wall, known as a barmkin, was built around the tower in the mid sixteenth century. Standing in excess of three metres tall with towers projecting from its south and east sides, it was constructed as a result of the regular warfare with England during Henry VIII's reign. Indeed an English army under Lord William Grey of Wilton besieged the site in 1547 but, despite successfully seizing the grounds, his forces were unable to take the tower due to a lack of artillery. The following year however the castle was attacked again and this time the tower was burnt. The damaged castle was granted to the Scott family in 1550 who made repairs and some structural modifications.
In September 1645, during the War of Three Kingdoms, Newark Castle found itself in proximity to the Battle of Philiphaugh where the Royalist forces of James Graham, Marquis of Montrose were routed. Around one hundred captured prisoners and camp followers were executed within the grounds of the castle by Covenanter forces. The mass grave of the murdered prisoners was located in 1810 in a field known as Slain Mens Lea.
Newark Castle was attacked and badly damaged by Oliver Cromwell during his invasion of Scotland in 1650. After the war it was repaired and modernised by Anne Scott, Duchess of Buccleuch. However, she was the last person to live there and, after her death, the tower was stripped of most of its fixtures and fittings. The Tower House now stands in the grounds of Bowhill House which are opened to the public (entrance fee charged) in the Summer months.
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Newark Castle is an impressive fifteenth century Tower House that has subsequently been extensively modified. Portions of the surrounding curtain wall, known as the barmkin, also survive including a tower and part of the gatehouse. The interior of the castle is not accessible.
Newark Castle Layout. The barmkin was completely separate from the Tower House.
Newark Castle. The name Newark derives from ‘New Wark’, meaning New Castle, hence why the name has been used for multiple fortifications in the UK.
Tower House. The Tower House was built in the fifteenth century by Archibald Douglas, Earl of Wigtown. The entrance into the tower was via a narrow door on the ground floor.
Barmkin. The tower’s curtain wall survives and includes a defensive turret.
Newark Castle is located within the grounds of Bowhill House (a ticket is required to access the estate). There is a public car park adjacent to the house and from there it is a 1.5 mile walk to the castle.
Bowhill House Estate
Newark Castle (Selkirk)