Newark Castle, Selkirkshire
Near Bowhill, Selkirk
Newark Castle is a large, ruined tower house standing in the grounds of Bowhill House, in the valley of the Yarrow Water three miles west of Selkirk in the Scottish Borders. In addition to the keep, sections of a gatehouse and wall survive.
It takes its name from "New Wark" meaning New Castle, replacing an earlier long forgotten castle on the same site.
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 projected from its south and east sides, it was constructed as a result of the regular warfare with England during Henry VIII's reign
We were keen to discover this particular castle after reading its gruesome history and thoroughly enjoyed exploring its surrounding walls, imagining the 17th century massacre unfolding within its walls.
~ History ~
1423 ~ Newark Castle is granted to Archibald Douglas, Earl of Wigtown. Building of the castle continued for a further fifty years.
1473 ~ The castle is still incomplete when it is seized by King James III in his pursuit to destroy the Black Douglas's. After the fall of the Black Douglas's the castle is held by the crown, and given to Margaret of Denmark, wife of King James III.
1547 ~ The castle is unsuccessfully besieged by an English army under the command of Lord William Grey of Wilton.
1548 ~ The English return and burn the castle.
1550 ~ The surrounding barmkin is added to the castle's defences and accommodation, with new battlements and two square caphouses added some fifty years later. The still damaged castle is granted to the Scott family who made repairs and some structural modifications.
1645 ~ During the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, 100 royalist followers of the Marquis of Montrose are executed by Covenanter forces within the narrow confines of the barmkin of Newark after the Battle of Philiphaugh. The bodies of soldiers, many of them Irish infantry as well as their unarmed followers (mostly women and children) are herded into the courtyard of Newark Castle. Here they are savagely butchered, their bodies piled high as shots and screams ring out. None escape the slaughter.
1650 ~ The castle is again attacked and badly damaged by Oliver Cromwell during his invasion of Scotland.
1663 ~ Anne Scott, heiress to the Buccleuch lands, marries James Stewart, illegitimate son of King Charles II. Together they are created Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch and Monmouth.
1685 ~ James Stewart, nephew of King James II, leads a Protestant revolt against his Catholic Uncle. His support and resources prove inadequate, and he is defeated at the Battle of Sedgemoor, where he is captured and executed by his uncle.
Anne, the mourning Duchess, returns to Newark Castle to see out the rest of her days.
~ Myths and Legends ~
The castle is believed to be haunted by the souls of women and children murdered by brutal soldiers at the site, who are heard each year on September 13th.