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, 11 July 2013
More Finds as Dig Draws to an End
The main excavation in the courtyard and interior buildings is drawing to a close. While there are still areas that could be excavated, they're going to be left. This is normal at archaeological digs, on the principle that some of the deposits should be left to future generations who may have far finer techniques than we can deploy today.
Despite this, today was a very good day for finds. Philippo Peritone found no less than three horseshoes in the west range. This area is supposed to have been a kitchen, and it has a huge fireplace at each end, but it could, possibly, have been used by a farrier at some point.
Ross Cameron, who has spent several days in the west range excavating the most complete sequence they've found, moved into the main range, were he's been working around the well. The well - or it was most likely a cistern - is immediately behind him in this picture, but the area he was clearing out today is in front of him. It was floored with flagstones but on top of them is a thick deposit of everyday rubbish - hence the deep brown colour.
Both well and small room were separated off by a stone wall, which has now been removed. Quite what the small room was used for is a bit of a mystery as, in the last refurbishment of the castle, it was inaccessible.
Perhaps this was a good thing - at least from the archaeologits' viewpoint - as it's yielding up some beautiful finds. Here, Ross is holding a piece of creamware pottery while Tom Addyman of Addyman Archaeology makes a photographic record of it.
But this is Ross' finest find, an almost-complete bowl of 18th century Chinese porcelain. He's hoping that, in the remaining time he has, he'll find the missing pieces.
Its discovery is important as it shows that the 18th century occupants of Mingary Castle were affluent. In those days, a piece like this - and perhaps, a full set of the porcelain - would have been extremely expensive. But to me, a non-archaeologist, the main interest is in speculating how and why the broken bowl ended up in this disused room. Did the scullery maid drop it on the flagstone floor and, in her panic, throw the remains over the wall to hide her crime?