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, 20 June 2013

Site Update

This photograph, taken a few days ago by archaeologist Ross Cameron of Addyman Archaeology, shows the west room of the main building after it had been excavated down to the demolition layer resulting from the removal of the interior timbers and the slate roof in the middle of the 19th century....

....and this is the same room today.  All the material has been removed, and what we are looking at is the bedrock upon which the castle walls were built in the 13th century.  Kenny Macfadyen is also, therefore, standing on the floor of the mediaeval hall.  It's far from flat, so one assumes that some sort of material was laid to level it, after which rushes may have been used to cover it.

The archaeologists are coming to terms with the fact that the early 18th century alterations to the building, which divided the original great hall into three vertically floored areas, also included a complete clear-out of all existing floor debris, so there is now no chance of finding any older artifacts here.

Despite this, accurate plans has been kept of the various levels as the archaeologists have worked their way down through the layers that have accumulated over the last three hundred years.  Kenny showed me this plan, which is so detailed that even the holes in the slates, used to nail them to the roof, are drawn in.  He had also noted heights, rather like spot heights on an OS map, so the undulations of each level are recorded.  Click on the picture to see it more clearly.

This is a close-up of the northeast quadrant, where most of the material accumulated.  It may be that, as they carried out the timber demolition from the top down, they knocked holes in the northeast corner of each floor, through which they threw the resulting rubble.

Kenny has just started on a final plan, showing the bare-rock level, which will be added to the others the archaeologists have done.  These will be scanned into a computer and then redrawn, so a series of neat, accurate plans will join the catalogue of the artifacts removed from the room.

This picture shows progress in the moat.  There is more and more evidence accumulating that the moat really was a moat and not a dry ditch.  The excavation at top right is full of standing water, even though we haven't had much rain here recently.  This water would then have drained through the bricked-up area at top centre into the cistern in the east room to provide a water supply for the castle.

The archaeologists have been concentrating their efforts on the interior of the main building to enable the builders, Ashley Thompson, to start to erect the scaffolding.  Once this is done, the archaeologists will have close access to the walls which will be recorded with as much detail as the floor; and the walls go right back to the late 13th century, so they will have a fascinating story to tell.

Many thanks to Ross Cameron for the photograph.

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