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.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

The Finds Start Rolling In

It was inevitable: once the excavations started on a building like Mingary Castle, which has been abandoned for over 150 years, the finds were going to start rolling in - and yesterday was the start of it. In the last twenty-four hours the two archaeologists working on the site have filled umpteen plastic bags with little treasures which are going away to be conserved.

When I went up to the site this morning, they could hardly contain their excitement.  Addyman Archaeology's Ross Cameron, working in the West Range, had found a coin.  It's remarkably well preserved but, other than removing some of the mud, he hasn't touched it: identification will have to wait until it's been cleaned by experts.

Nearby he found a round piece of slate with a hole bored through the centre.  I had no idea what it was, but Ross knew - it's the weight at the bottom of a spindle used for spinning wool.  It's a particularly touching find as it provides a link from the twenty-first century to women who were spinning and weaving their clothes perhaps hundreds of years ago.

Even more exciting is what I described in yesterday's post as a 'bucket'.  It's something far more complicated, having two pieces of rounded metal coming in to it from either side, as well as a riveted rim.  Ross doesn't know what it is, but he hopes to expose more of it in the next couple of days.

Meanwhile, Andrew Morrison has been soldiering on in the (very wet) moat, and has been further rewarded with finds as varied as bones and large metal nails. But the most exciting artifacts he's unearthed have been china.  These pieces look like Chinese ware, though it may also be English, and may date from the 18th or 19th century.

This piece of earthenware is interesting as it bears a rose surrounded by oak leaves, which suggests an English connection.

There's a fair amount of glass lying in the moat.  This is the neck and top of a bottle which has a wonderful pearly lustre.  As with the pottery, Andrew wouldn't be drawn on dates: that's a job for experts.

I particularly liked this piece of glass, almost certainly window glass.  It's incredibly delicate and thin, and one can quite imagine it in the leaded windows of the Principal Range.

The two archaeologists are hardly scratching the surface of this huge task.  Once Addyman Archaeology have the go-ahead from Historic Scotland, we'll be witnessing an archaeological event of truly historic significance.

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