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, 13 May 2013

The First Artifacts

Someone always gets the worst job, and today it was the turn of Canadian archaeologist Andrew Morrison from Victoria, Vancouver Island.  Andrew, who has a degree from Edinburgh University and is now taking a masters at Glasgow, is a member of the Addyman Archaeology team which is excavating the castle.

On a chillingly cold day, with frequent hailstorms, Andrew's job was to dig a trench in the bottom of the moat which runs along the north wall of the castle.  The trench is designed to answer several questions: how deep was the moat, was it a dry moat - which has been assumed up until now - or did it contain water, and....

 ....what was the significance of the area of walling at moat-level at the centre of this picture to the left of the rucksack, because behind it lies the castle well?  'Well' probably isn't the right word, as the geology is such that the hole in the ground is unlikely to have filled with groundwater from under the castle, but was more likely to be a cistern, a container into which water could be piped.  We know from documentation that the castle fell in at least one siege because the 'well' dried up, so where was the - very unsatisfactory - source for the water?

Andrew's luck was about to change because, when I visited this morning (it was raining), he'd just broken a small hole - he's pointing to it - through into what looked like some sort of pipe, and he could see standing water below.

Because this castle is so well preserved, and because it really hasn't been explored up until now, this is the sort of thrilling discovery that is going to become commonplace as the project develops.  The sense of excitement among the archaeologists working on the site is palpable.

And then Andrew's (wet) day suddenly got even better.  In the mud at the bottom of his (now very wet) hole he unearthed a piece of leather.  It's not the first artifact to be found - they already have a bucket - but it's very exciting, and a worthy reward for a wet and cold morning's work.

Tomorrow they start to excavate the well/cistern.  I'll be there to see it.

1 comment:

  1. Dee Leggett daughter of a McKean17 May 2013 at 18:57

    If you need a McKean to live there I know a few descendents who would be more than happy to fulfill those duties. Cheers and thanks for all the hard work!