Scotland's Coastal Heritage at Risk

Sites at Risk

New to the Sites at Risk map? Watch our How to... guidance videos to help you get started.

Back to the map of sites.

Newark Castle Alternative Names: St Monance Castle (1303)

Current Priority
2
East
351823
North
701190
Site Type
Defence; Residential/ Castle
Period
16th C

The remains of Newark Castle stand on a small promontory running into the sea. The main buildings stand on the summit of the promontory to the E with remains of an enclosing wall to the S and on the W along the cliff. The earliest work is in the three most southerly vaulted cellars of the E range. These have been altered and give no indication of date. In the second period, early 16th century, the block was extended N and terminated at the NE angle in a circular tower, with an entrance gate facing N in its W side. In the third period, late 16th century, a new house was built on the second period ground floor, extending from the cellars to the wall of the tower and having a stair tower towards the courtyard. Late in the 16th century, the cellarage was altered and buildings at the S end of the courtyard, as well as those on the lower level, erected. In the fourth period, later 17th century, a storey was added to the 16th c house, and an upper storey to the tower. The courtyard was divided by a cross wall running N along the W cliff to meet the main outer wall. Other buildings, now represented by fragments of vaulted cellars, lay at a lower level towards the NW, access between the two parts being maintained by a newel stair, still traceable. At the lower level there was probably a water gate. RCAHMS 1933, visited 1927. Generally as described and planned, although the N tower has partially collapsed and the walling on the W has been eroded by the sea. Visited by OS (DWR) 30 May 1974. NO 518 012 Newark Castle sits on a promontory on the N side of the Firth of Forth, 1km W of St Monans. It probably dates from the 15th century and originally comprised ranges of buildings set around a courtyard. In the 16th century, the E range was extended northwards and a circular tower built onto it. Later that century, the upper parts of the N end of the E range and the tower were rebuilt and some of the ground-floor chambers altered, the northernmost one becoming a kitchen. In the late 17th century, the 16th-century house was heightened and Dutch gables added to it. Some parts of the castle were still occupied well into the 19th century when the tower walls were cut back to provide additional living space. This action contributed to the collapse of the N wall of the tower early in the 20th century, whilst coastal erosion has resulted in the loss of other buildings, including the entire W side of the castle. An archaeological evaluation was undertaken in advance of a proposed programme of restoration of the N end of the E range and its round tower. The principal areas of excavation were: the interior of the round tower and its entrance passage; the kitchen and its fireplace; the first-floor hall; and four trenches against the castle walls. The tower. The remains of the tower stood five storeys above ground level, although excavation also uncovered a hitherto unsuspected basement. The tower measured 7.5m in diameter over walls 2.2m thick at their base, but reduced over most of the building's height. Piercing the E and W walls of the basement were embrasures terminating in circular gun-loops which had probably opened onto a ditch. At some stage the ditch had been backfilled with at least 5m of rubble and soil. The basement floor was bedrock, into which a square feature had been cut - perhaps a well - which was not excavated. From ground level upwards, the tower walls have been reduced and alterations made to many of the mural features, such as windows and gun-loops. The kitchen. The kitchen was formed when a large fireplace was inserted into the end of the northernmost undercroft of the E range. Most of the floor of this chamber comprised bedrock although some crude paving had been added where there were undulations in the rock. Cutting the bedrock was a narrow channel leading to a slop drain, set below a window in the E wall. First-floor hall. This room, probably a hall during the later phases of occupation, lay directly over the kitchen and measured 6.2m N-S by 5m wide internally. Turf and debris overlay a deposit of sand, presumably the setting for floor tiles or flags, although no trace of either remained. There were two fireplaces in the hall, one directly over the kitchen fireplace, and another much smaller one in the S wall. Trenches outside the castle. Four trenches were excavated against the castle walls, primarily to determine the depths of their foundations. This objective proved difficult to achieve for several reasons, although some interesting features were nevertheless uncovered. Trenches were opened against the two main doorways into the E range, one of which gave access to the passage leading to the tower, the other to the kitchen and a turnpike stair (now demolished) which led to the first-floor hall. In both trenches, large sandstone flags were overlain by a secondary surface of hard-packed gravel. In a trench outside the E range a relieving arch was uncovered near the base of the E wall, over 2m below present ground level. Also in this trench were the only artefacts pre-dating the late 19th century - sherds of probable 17th-century pottery, some of it French. Sponsor: Nola Crewe. J Lewis 2002

ShoreUPDATE 31/08/2015: Actively eroding structural elements and buildings are visible in the cliffs below the Castle.

Condition and current recommendations:

Condition
Poor
Action
Monitor site to report fresh exposures

Over to you...

If you know there are errors in the original site record you can edit the original record here

If you would like to visit the site and carry out a ShoreUPDATE survey, you can prepare a ShoreUPDATE pack for this site (PDF) here.

If you want to use your smart phone to carry out the ShoreUPDATE survey, you can download the app here.

If you have completed a field survey of this site, you can submit your ShoreUPDATE record here.

Record NO50SW17 on map 17 in Coastal Assessment Survey for Historic Scotland Fife -Kincardine to Fifeness, 1996

Other records:

NMRS
34203
SMR
Unknown

ShoreUpdates

1 ShoreUpdate accepted and 0 pending.

Click on an update to expand it.

31st August, 2015 by marcyrockman
Survey Information
User:
marcyrockman
Date:
Aug. 31, 2015
Tidal state:
low
Site located?:
Yes
Condition Information
Proximity to coast edge:
coast edge
Coastally eroding?:
active sea erosion
Is there a coastal defence?:
no
Other threats?:
structural damage/decay
Description:

The remains of Newark Castle stand on a small promontory running into the sea. The main buildings stand on the summit of the promontory to the E with remains of an enclosing wall to the S and on the W along the cliff. The earliest work is in the three most southerly vaulted cellars of the E range. These have been altered and give no indication of date. In the second period, early 16th century, the block was extended N and terminated at the NE angle in a circular tower, with an entrance gate facing N in its W side. In the third period, late 16th century, a new house was built on the second period ground floor, extending from the cellars to the wall of the tower and having a stair tower towards the courtyard. Late in the 16th century, the cellarage was altered and buildings at the S end of the courtyard, as well as those on the lower level, erected. In the fourth period, later 17th century, a storey was added to the 16th c house, and an upper storey to the tower. The courtyard was divided by a cross wall running N along the W cliff to meet the main outer wall. Other buildings, now represented by fragments of vaulted cellars, lay at a lower level towards the NW, access between the two parts being maintained by a newel stair, still traceable. At the lower level there was probably a water gate. RCAHMS 1933, visited 1927. Generally as described and planned, although the N tower has partially collapsed and the walling on the W has been eroded by the sea. Visited by OS (DWR) 30 May 1974. NO 518 012 Newark Castle sits on a promontory on the N side of the Firth of Forth, 1km W of St Monans. It probably dates from the 15th century and originally comprised ranges of buildings set around a courtyard. In the 16th century, the E range was extended northwards and a circular tower built onto it. Later that century, the upper parts of the N end of the E range and the tower were rebuilt and some of the ground-floor chambers altered, the northernmost one becoming a kitchen. In the late 17th century, the 16th-century house was heightened and Dutch gables added to it. Some parts of the castle were still occupied well into the 19th century when the tower walls were cut back to provide additional living space. This action contributed to the collapse of the N wall of the tower early in the 20th century, whilst coastal erosion has resulted in the loss of other buildings, including the entire W side of the castle. An archaeological evaluation was undertaken in advance of a proposed programme of restoration of the N end of the E range and its round tower. The principal areas of excavation were: the interior of the round tower and its entrance passage; the kitchen and its fireplace; the first-floor hall; and four trenches against the castle walls. The tower. The remains of the tower stood five storeys above ground level, although excavation also uncovered a hitherto unsuspected basement. The tower measured 7.5m in diameter over walls 2.2m thick at their base, but reduced over most of the building's height. Piercing the E and W walls of the basement were embrasures terminating in circular gun-loops which had probably opened onto a ditch. At some stage the ditch had been backfilled with at least 5m of rubble and soil. The basement floor was bedrock, into which a square feature had been cut - perhaps a well - which was not excavated. From ground level upwards, the tower walls have been reduced and alterations made to many of the mural features, such as windows and gun-loops. The kitchen. The kitchen was formed when a large fireplace was inserted into the end of the northernmost undercroft of the E range. Most of the floor of this chamber comprised bedrock although some crude paving had been added where there were undulations in the rock. Cutting the bedrock was a narrow channel leading to a slop drain, set below a window in the E wall. First-floor hall. This room, probably a hall during the later phases of occupation, lay directly over the kitchen and measured 6.2m N-S by 5m wide internally. Turf and debris overlay a deposit of sand, presumably the setting for floor tiles or flags, although no trace of either remained. There were two fireplaces in the hall, one directly over the kitchen fireplace, and another much smaller one in the S wall. Trenches outside the castle. Four trenches were excavated against the castle walls, primarily to determine the depths of their foundations. This objective proved difficult to achieve for several reasons, although some interesting features were nevertheless uncovered. Trenches were opened against the two main doorways into the E range, one of which gave access to the passage leading to the tower, the other to the kitchen and a turnpike stair (now demolished) which led to the first-floor hall. In both trenches, large sandstone flags were overlain by a secondary surface of hard-packed gravel. In a trench outside the E range a relieving arch was uncovered near the base of the E wall, over 2m below present ground level. Also in this trench were the only artefacts pre-dating the late 19th century - sherds of probable 17th-century pottery, some of it French. Sponsor: Nola Crewe. J Lewis 2002

ShoreUPDATE 31/08/2015 Actively eroding structural elements and buildings are visible in the cliffs below the Castle.

Management Information
How visible are the remains? (above ground):
highly visible (substantial remains)
How visible are the remains? (in section):
not visible
How accessibile is the site?:
easily accessible- no restrictions; accessible on foot (footpath)
The site is:
is well known; is well visited
Comments and recommendations
Comments:

This is a prominent and well-visited heritage asset on the popular Fife Coastal Path. A management plan is urgently required.

Recommendations:

Reassign priority 2 on the basis of structural elements in the cliffs below the castle being damaged by wave action. Detailed photographic survey of cliff face followed up by regular photographic survey.