The Mingary Castle restoration blog was written by Jon Haylett, who lives in the local village of Kilchoan. Now that restoration is almost complete Holly and Chris Bull will take over to report on bringing the Castle back to life.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Aerial Views of the Castle

Aerial views of buildings like Mingary Castle give a first-class view as well as a wonderful sense of place.  We were therefore extremely fortunate that local historian and archaeologist Iain Thornber, who writes a regular column in our local newspaper, The Oban Times, happened to be passing the castle yesterday in a helicopter - and in perfect weather conditions.  He took these pictures, and has generously allowed us to publish them.

The first shows the castle in its setting, with Mingary House to the left and the Ardnamurchan Estate steading (farmyard) at upper left.  The tide is fairly low, so the complex of bays are clearly visible: the one immediately to the left of the castle is called Port Ur.

The second picture shows the castle from the west.  The hard rock of the dolerite sill on which it was built is clearly visible, along with one of the unusual features of the local geology: another outcrop of hard rock which has created the angled promontory on the sea-side of the castle, a feature which was exploited by putting a sea gate to open on to it.

The north range, the main building within the courtyard area, is clearly seen in this view from the south, as well as the sorry state of its roof.

Here the castle is seen from the east.  Archaeologists have recently identified a number of small buildings in the rough land on this side of the castle.  These aren't marked on the earliest maps, and they do not appear to form part of the Mingary clachan, the old village that existed on this site up until the clearances of the mid-nineteenth century, so they may date back to an early stage in the castle's history.

Lastly in Iain's circuit of the building, the castle is here seen from the north.  In this view, the dry moat is clearly visible, as well as the massive size of the north curtain wall and the parapet that runs all round the tops of the walls.

At some point during this week it is hoped to start excavating the area of land on the north, landward side  of the castle.  The reason for doing this early is that, when the main excavation starts shortly, this will be used as a service area for the archaeologists, builders and others working on the site.  This was possibly its role in the past: a village is usually associated with a castle.  I am looking forward in some anticipation to what will be found.

Many thanks indeed to Iain Thornber for the pictures.


  1. Dave McFadzean Moniaive21 May 2013 at 09:42

    Caerlaverock down here in Dumfriesshire is meant to be our only triangular shaped castle. Looking at Mingary in these photies it looks like we are not far off having another one!

  2. It's actually hexagonal, Dave, but very irregular, with the two gates in the shortest walls. Basically, it's shape seems to have been dictated by the space available on top of the promontory. Jon

  3. They should do the same thing for Castle Tioram in Ardnamurchan now that you can't get in or around the whole of the north west side due to it's instability and potential falling masonry. Great idea!