I'm back! We had one of our friends visiting for the past week and a half, so we had fun times exploring more of Scotland. As a result, I have TONS of pictures and places to share with you all. We did some pretty epic trips and saw some incredible places. We were also blessed with some incredible weather nearly the entire time so for the first time really, we saw a warm, sunny Scotland. I definitely could get used to that.
One of the first places we visited was Newark Castle, located in Port Glasgow which is across the River Clyde from our little town.
The oldest parts of the castle were built in 1478, but like most old places, it was later renovated to its current state. Sir Patrick Maxwell oversaw the renovations and as the Historic Scotland guide informed us, he was a scoundrel, albeit a clever one. Just a bit of backstory on the man- he was a powerful ally to King James VI of Scotland (also known as King James I of England and rather well known for his authorised translation of the Bible). Maxwell murdered at least two of his rivals, was a known wife beater, and actually sliced his wife's face open at one point, after which she left him and died in poverty across the river. He had 16 children, and his last heir died in 1668, at which point Glasgow purchased the area around the castle and created the small shipping town of Port Glasgow where the castle is currently located.
When Maxwell renovated the house, he did an excellent job with the renovations. The house was redone in a combination of Renaissance and Scottish Baronial style was some unique quirks of its own.
For instance, Maxwell added in several areas for guests to wash their hands before they ate in the dining hall, which was relatively uncommon in that era. He also had an extensive wine cellar, but created a smaller cellar that was used as backup and designed with rather difficult access, making thievery nearly impossible. And while not exactly unique, he did convert the original 1478 northeast tower into a dovecot.
Access to the dovecot is now impossible unless you can convince the guide to let you in (hint, she probably will) because several years ago a small four year old managed to get royally stuck inside. Thanks kid for ruining it for the rest of us.
On the second floor of the castle, are the original wooden ceilings from the 1600s. Some of the wood was recycled from other buildings, making this possibly one of the oldest wooden ceilings in Scotland. Due to structural changes in the castle itself in 2007, the ceiling was inspected and it was realized that the ceiling had been carefully numbered with Roman numerals during the renovations, ensuring that each piece was in the correct location. The roof had only minor repairs done since the 1600s, but otherwise held up surprisingly well until recently, when it was renovated to ensure its survival.
Newark Castle isn't the most popular or well-known site in Scotland, but it definitely deserves a visit. We enjoyed it in part because it was so quiet and we really had the run of the place. Additionally, the tour guide was very knowledgable about all the ins and outs of the castle and wiling to answer any and all of our multitude of questions.
Of course, it is so prettily situated on the River Clyde and the vistas are simply lovely. Highly recommend this small castle if one is ever in the Glasgow area and wishing to do some exploring!