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Maxwell’s houseNewark Castle is a rediscovered treasure. For too long it lurked behind the giant cranes and sheds of the Clyde’s great shipyards. Only recently has it re-emerged to take its rightful place in the townscape of Port Glasgow.
The ‘Old Wark’Sir George Maxwell built the first castle on acquiring the barony of Finlaystone from his father in 1478. He was subsequently styled ‘of Newwerk and Finlanstone’. His contribution was the tall tower house at the SE corner, and the gatehouse on the west side of the courtyard. The gunholes shaped like inverted keyholes confirm the construction date.
The new warkThe ‘new wark’ was contributed by Sir Patrick Maxwell, who became laird in the 1580s. The date 1597 appears above the front doorway. Patrick appears to have demolished the earlier great hall, along the north side of the courtyard, and built a new self-contained residence in its place. At the same time, he incorporated the old tower into the ensemble, and had the courtyard wall, called a barmkin, rebuilt to its present alignment.
A nasty piece of workSir Patrick’s building work may have been refined, but he himself was anything but. He murdered several neighbours – including two members of the Montgomery of Skelmorlie family in one day. He even killed his own kin.