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.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Mingary's Potential Importance in Tree-Ring Dating

Oak Timbers in the Main Staircase

Dr Coralie Mills, who recently visited the castle to look at the timber - see post here - has written to say, "I counted over forty historic timber elements surviving as lintels - quite remarkable really when you consider the site's exposure to the elements.

"On a more general point, the oak tree-ring coverage for Scotland is patchy geographically and chronologically, and we only have a continuous Scottish oak record for southwest Scotland.  This goes back into the 10th century AD, thanks largely to some early work on timbers from Glasgow Cathedral roof and other medieval sites by Prof Mike Baillie from Queen's University Belfast in the 1970s. He used the Scottish record to help bridge some tricky periods in the Irish oak record.

"Thus Mingary - if the wood is confirmed as oak - could form a significant new piece in the Scottish tree-ring jigsaw puzzle, representing a far more northwesterly oak site than any others dated so far; and if the material is as early as we hope, this will be a very important development indeed. We will have to see whether it can be dated against the existing rather distant oak reference data.  It may prove possible with sufficient sample replication (ie high sample numbers) and good sequence lengths (ie selecting samples with lots of rings).  The potential is looking good at this early stage, especially because many samples appear to have sub-bark surface intact, good for getting precise felling dates to the year. Alternatively, building up a more local oak reference chronology - using long-lived oaks and other historic timbers - would be the way forward."

Coralie's website is at
and she can be followed on Facebook at

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