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.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

'Real' Archaeology

Attention shifted this morning to the area immediately to the north of the castle - ringed in this, another of Iain Thornber's excellent photographs.  It is surrounded by walls on all but the south side, these probably dating to the 19th century, the area they enclose having been used more recently for growing daffodils and for silage crops.
Since this is outside the area that's designated as an historic monument, the rules that apply to an excavation are a little different, and are the 'bread and butter' of a commercial archaeologist's job.  So I joined archaeologist Ross Cameron of Addyman Archaeology to see what a 'usual' day in the field was like.

The excavator very carefully scraped off the topsoil to expose a rubbly layer beneath.  One would have expected the area in front of a castle to be used as a bit of a rubbish tip, and there are often settlements around them, with their attendant rubbish, and musket balls have been found here in the past, so I was full of expectation.

Usually, Ross - in yellow - just stands and watches the excavator bucket, but at least today he had some company, from builder John-Paul Ashley of Ashley Thompson and from the Estate's two wolf hounds.  I asked him about his job as a commercial archaeologist, which mostly consists of.... watching an excavator bucket.

It rained.  It hailed.  A north wind gusted to near gale force, driving on the showers.  It was very, very cold.  My brain gave up, but Ross kept watching that bucket.

After four hours of watching the excavator shift the topsoil to expose the 'archaeology', Ross had found two pieces of clay pot.  It was lunch time, and I went home to defrost, but Ross, after warming up with a cup of tea, spent the rest of the afternoon completing the job.  Who'd want to be an archaeologist?

Many thanks to Iain Thornber for permission to use his photograph.

1 comment:

  1. A good piece of learning John hehe. Oh and they are Scottish Deer Hounds not wolf hounds sorry.