Newark Castle (Castle of St Monans), Fife
~ History ~
1200's ~ Prince Alexander of Scotland spends part of his childhood at Newark Castle.
1214 ~ King William the Lion of Scotland dies. His sixteen year old son and heir, Prince Alexander is crowned King Alexander II of Scotland at Scone.
1215 ~ King Alexander's throne is far from secure, as Donald Bane, a great-grandson of the murdered King Duncan, declares against Alexander in Caithness, in the North of Scotland. The rebellion is quelled by a powerful Celtic Lord, Farquhar MacTaggart, who sends Alexander teh severed heads of the rebels as a present.
1220's ~ King Alexander secures his throne with strong Celtic support during a brutal period of his reign which includes him ordering the hands and feet of eighty men in Caithness cut off to punish them for roasting their bishop alive.
1221 ~ To further secure his throne King Alexander marries Joan, the eldest sister of King Henry III of England, and so secures a powerful ally.
1230 ~ Another challenger to Alexander's throne is declared by the MacWilliams. This rebellion is also crushed, ending with the brains of their chieftans baby being beaten out against the market cross in Forfar.
1238 ~ Joan dies, childless.The English have already laid claim to Scotland and Alexander's nearest male heir having died the previous year. The powerful Bruce family declare that upon Alexander's death, without an heir Robert Bruce should be King.
Alexander therefore decides to remarry. On a visit to Englandhe chooses a French lord's daughter, Marie de Coucy.
1241 ~ Marie presents Alexander with a healthy baby boy, much to teh dismay of both the Bruce family and the English Crown.
1249 ~ With the future of his throne secured, Alexander sets out to resolve the Western Isles problem once and for all. He decides the best course of action to wrestle the Islands from Norse rule is to follow what Kings of old across Britain have previously done, is to pay the Vikings.
King Haakan IV of Norway rejects this offer,and so Alexander gathers an invasion fleet to force the issue. He and his fleet gets as far as the islandof Kerrera, when he falls sick with a fever and dies. The Scottish threat to take the Western Isles from Norse control is removed.
Alexander leaves a seven year old boy who at the age of just ten would mary King Henry III's eleven year old daughter, Margaret.
1250's ~ Newark Castle is rebuilt by Sir Alan Durward.
1400's ~ The Kinloch family rebuild Newark Castle in a courtyard style.
1548 ~ The Scots defeat the invading English at the Battle of St Monans, with the death of more than 900 men dying in the battle. The English leader Admiral Seymour was beheaded a few years later. The Scottish leader James Stewart also died withina few fews after he is assassinated.
1560 ~ The nearby Abbey of St Monans, where the battle was fought and the Scots celebrated an unexpected victory against the English, is utterly ransacked.
1565 ~ Mary, Queen of Scots, visits the castle.
1649 ~ The Sandiland family become bankrupt and are forced to sell their estates, including the castle, to General David Leslie, victor against the Marquis of Montrose four years earlier.
1650 ~ Leslie is deated by Oliver Cromwell at the Battle of Dunbar.
1651 ~ Leslie is captured at the Battle of Worcester, after which he spends nine years on the Tower of London.
1660 ~ Upon the reformation Leslie is released from prison and made Baron Newark by King Charles II. He returns to his castle in Fife.
1682 ~ Before Leslie's death, many modifications of the castle have been made. The castle passes to Sir Andrew Anstruther.
1800's ~ The castle is abandoned.
St Monans, Anstruther
The impressive, crumbling, ruins of Newark Castle, sometimes also known as the "Castle of St Monans", occupies a magnificent clifftop location half a mile south west of St Monans and only a third of a mile from St Monans Church. It is from the car park next to the church you can take the scenic Fife Coastal Path to the castle. The path also passes, two thirds of a mile to the south west, the fragmentary ruins of Ardross Castle, making this an interesting stretch of coast for any Castle~Finder.
During high tide or poor weather you may need to take the inland path the other side of the church walls and fields to the castle.
The castle is reputed to be the home of the 'Green Lady', the ghost of Jean Leslie,daughter of Sir David Leslie. The caves beneath have also been used for smuggling.
A spectacular location, especially if you take the coast path to the ruin. In fine weather the views and terrific and the walk well worth the effort.