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, 26 May 2013

Why is Mingary Falling Down?

It seems fairly obvious that, if a structure has stood neglected for over 150 years, it's not going to be in the best of shape.  When one allows for the fact that Mingary was already almost 600 years old when the world forgot about it, it is surprising that anything stands there at all.  When one adds the castle's location - on a promontory sticking out into the sea, corroded by salt spray, and exposed to lashing rain and Atlantic gales which, in winter, can exceed 100mph - the castle ought to be a pile of moss-covered stones.

Perhaps surprisingly, it's the interior buildings, the three 'ranges' built inside the protection of the north, east and west curtain walls, that appear to have suffered the most - picture shows what little remains of the west range.  They were built as dwelling places and store rooms, so did not need what the outer walls required - the strength to withstand the pounding of a siege.  The outer curtain walls are incredibly thick, some 2.5 metres (8 feet) of stone along the north, land-facing curtain.  They have withstood the test of time....  until recently.

The curtain walls are as strong as they ever were, but are about to collapse because they are being undermined.  The walls stand on a foundation of hard, dolerite sill but, as with the majority of rocks, it is broken into blocks by joints.  These joints have widened, and the blocks of rock have moved.  This may partly be due to weathering, the break-up and erosion by the sea of the underlying, more fractured rock stratum, or because the weight of the walls, perched as they are on the edge of the dolerite block, are pushing it aside.

The breakup of the dolerite is slow but inexorable, but it has reached the point where, unless something drastic is done urgently, the community will wake up to the pile of rubble it so dreads.  The other day we had an earthquake in the area - a mere 2.8 on the Richter scale, but people heard and felt it - and one person said, "Is that Mingary falling down?"  He wasn't joking.

So the first thing that has to be done is to consolidate the dolerite by underpinning the castle's great walls.  I have no idea what this will cost, the numbers must be fearsome, but the Mingary Castle Preservation & Restoration Trust has already started this task - more details to follow.  It's not a moment too soon, and we'll breathe a sigh of relief once it's done.

From information and papers provided by Addyman Archaeology

No comments:

Post a Comment