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.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

What Happens to the Finds

Last week, in very inclement weather, Philippo Peritone and Lara Ferrarotti had the unenviable task of cleaning out the bottom of the excavation in the moat.  It was miserable work, ladling the mud slurry into buckets while, at the same time, trying to check for any artefacts, then carrying each bucket to the top of the slope to empty it.

Once almost down to bedrock, they were able to start using the water which is, at last, on site, to work through the crevices in the rock, in the hope of finding what should have been some of the oldest material.

The basement rock looks so fresh it might have been cut yesterday - in fact, it might as well have been, because....

 ....they found very little to excite them.

These finds, being from one 'context', were placed in a plastic bag and carefully labelled with a find number and the number of the context, along with the date and the names of the archaeologists who found them.

When I went down to the site this morning, Kenny Macfadyen had returned to the castle after a few weeks away, along with Ross Cameron.  Kenny was in the moat making careful records - along the lines I described in yesterday's post.  He's seen sitting on the low, clay-lined wall that runs at an angle across the eastern end of the moat, a feature which has yet to be explained.

It being a lovely morning, Ross put me to work on the next stage of dealing with the finds.  Each plastic bag is emptied into a tray, and then every find is very carefully washed before being placed on a layer of newspaper in a clean tray to dry.  Conditions were ideal: the finds dried quickly in the sun and light breeze, and I worked on my suntan.  The only difficult part of the job was making 100% sure that the finds didn't get muddled, so the original plastic bag was pushed under the newspaper in the tray.

This is a typical tray, in this case full of animal teeth and bones - presumably from meals once eaten in the castle.  When dry, they are placed in a clean bag which is carefully numbered; the bags then go away to experts.  This collection of bones will go to a bone specialist who will know which animal each came from, and will be on the lookout for things like butchery cuts into the bone - we think the large bone in the middle may show some.

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