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.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Progress Report

At the eastern end of the moat, most of the work has now been completed, with nine pieces of an early door surround found, but at the most easterly end Kenny Macfadyen has been up to his knees in mud excavating a very interesting structure.  It looks a bit like a low wall running diagonally across the moat, but the gaps between the stone blocks of which it was made have been filled with a dark clay.  Kenny, in true archaeological tradition, wouldn't speculate as to what it might be, but it leads towards the point in the castle where the cistern, or 'well', is located.

Inside the castle, Ross Cameron, centre, has spent a great deal of time excavating one quadrant of the west range.  It contains one of the most complete sequences back through time, including a midden layer full of bones.  With some way still to go before he hits bedrock, he has exposed the bottom two steps of the stairway which led up from the original courtyard to the battlements.  This ran up the northern end of the west wall (see map in the right-hand column of the blog) but was interrupted by the building of the west range.

While Kenny looks on at what Ross is doing, Dale Meegan (right), one of the volunteers from the village, continues work on a cobbled area of the courtyard.  After the fine area of cobbles we excavated on the other side of the courtyard, this one is badly damaged.

This is a view of Ross' excavation.  To the right is a flagstone which was part of the 17th/18th century kitchen, beneath which is a layer separating it from what is very probably a step of the stairway up to the battlements.

The excavations in the other rooms are nearing completion.  This is a vertical view of the floor of the southern room of the east wing, where Lara Ferrarotti has been working.  In the lower part of the picture she has excavated down to bedrock, but the upper part shows the foundations of the original southeast wall, the inner part of which was cut away when the east range was built.

With the main room in the north range now fully scaffolded, it's possible to climb safely up onto the battlements, from which there is a magnificent view across the Sound of Mull.  The workmen from Ashley Thompson have started clearing the walkway and I was able to get round about a third of the battlements - pictures and description to follow.

Today was an important day on site because Alan Rutherford of Historic Scotland visited to look at progress.  He's seen here at centre right, with builder John-Paul Ashley at left, then Francis Shaw of Wighton Jagger Shaw Architects, and Tom Addyman of Addyman Archaeology at right.

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